Stress causes our bodies react by releasing hormones and chemicals that set us on alert. This is sometimes called the stress response.
You may have also heard this called the fight-or-flight response. Research has recently expanded this to fight, flight or freeze.
The stress response is designed to be triggered when we are in mortal danger to protect us from that danger. The problem comes in when everyday activities activate the stress response.
According to Harvard Health Publications, “health problems are one result (of stress). A prime example is high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. The stress response also suppresses the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. Moreover, the buildup of stress can contribute to anxiety and depression.”
Learning how to manage your stress can be as simple as learning breathing techniques.
Here is a list of different breathing exercises for you to try:
1) Breath Counting
I do this with every patient that comes into the office for the first time. It is simple and powerful. It helps you to become conscious of your breathing.
Sit with your spine erect but relaxed. Begin by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Once you have finished your exhale, mentally count the number one. Then take your next breath again in through your nose and out through your mouth and count two. Continue until you reach ten.
If you lose your count you have to start over at one until you can get to ten with no interruption.
This is particularly powerful when you are stressed, because it is easy to lose count if you are not paying attention to your breath.
2) Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”
This only requires you to inhale and exhale for the same duration. It is done by breathing in through your nose for four counts. Then you breath out of your nose for the same four counts. Continue for a few minutes.
6 Breathing Exercises to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less. Greatist.com. 10 April 2016.
Three Breathing Exercises. DrWeil.com. 10 April 2016.
Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response. www.health.harvard.edu. 10 April 2016.