The Easy Way to Ease Stress
Did you know that a headache, upset stomach, anger, anxiety and many other physical and mental health issues can be symptoms of stress?
If you aren’t sure about the source of a health concern you have, it’s a good idea to take stock of your stress levels.
Stress is a common occurrence in our always-on world. According to the latest statistics from the American Institute of Stress, 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms related to stress and 73% experience psychological symptoms.
Prolonged stress can contribute to serious health problems for the body and mind such as cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal disorders and depression.
Thankfully, there’s a simple, accessible, inexhaustible and cost-free remedy for stress.
It all starts with the breath.
Breathe for your health
For centuries, people from all over the globe have used the breath and different breathing techniques to promote wellness and help heal the body and mind.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of stress or you’re simply interested in using your breath as a tool for wellness, start by paying attention to the way you breathe.
You can observe your breath anytime, anywhere. Close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you and focus your attention on your breath.
Without judging or changing your breath, simply observe what it’s doing. Draw your attention to the movement of your chest or abdomen or pay attention to the temperature of the air coming into your nostrils and then flowing out again.
When thoughts come into your head – which they will – simply notice them and then bring your focus back to your breath.
Improve your breathing technique
Once you’ve spent a little time paying attention to your breath, you may notice that you breathe high up, in your chest.
While it’s not uncommon to breathe this way, shallow chest breathing isn’t the best way to breathe because it doesn’t allow you to completely fill your lungs with air. This shorter breath can contribute to tension and anxiety.
Using your belly to breathe is a more effective way to fill the lungs. In fact, lower abdominal breathing is a technique recommended by the Harvard Medical School as a way to encourage “full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide”.
To practice lower abdominal breathing, allow your belly to expand as you breathe in. As you breathe out, your belly should deflate. This may feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you aren’t used to breathing in this way. However, by practicing this technique, you can develop a healthier way to breathe.
A breathing exercise you can do anytime, anywhere
Here’s one of our favorite exercises to help you get started with lower abdominal breathing.
It’s a good idea to do this in the evening, just before you go to bed, but you can do it anytime during the day. Ideally, you should lie down on your back, but this can also be done sitting or even standing in line at the grocery store if that’s the only time you have.
If you are lying down, place your hands on your hip bones and allow your fingers to meet across your belly if possible. Placing your hands like this will help you focus your attention on your breathing.
Breathe in through your nostrils to the count of 10, allowing your lower abdomen to expand. Hold for the count of 10. Then, breathe out through your mouth for the count of 10. Repeat this exercise five times working up to the count of 30 if you can.
This practice produces many positive effects for the body and mind, including slowing and regulating heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, relaxing muscles and increasing feelings of peacefulness. It’ll get you in the right frame of mind for a good night’s rest.
More ways to de-stress
There are many types of breathing exercises which can help with a wide range of health issues. If you’re interested in learning more, join us for a yoga class at Nature’s Link. Our classes are open to everyone, from beginners to those who have been practicing yoga for many years. More information can be found on our website.
One final de-stressing tip: One of our favorite products for the daily management of stress is Solle Essentials™ Calm Oil, specially formulated to help soothe body and mind. This blend of patchouli, petitgrain, Roman chamomile, balsam, blue cypress, German chamomile, and yuzu will help enhance the benefits of your breathing practice.
At Nature’s Link Wellness Center in Breaux Bridge, LA, we’re committed to a holistic approach to health. Led by natural health practitioner and board-certified naturopathic doctor Kristine Devillier, we are passionate about helping clients find their own personal balance and achieve optimal health and wellness.
We’ll help you learn easy daily practices that can add up to significant health benefits. For all the latest in natural medicine in Lafayette, LA, give us a call on 337-332-2705 or reach us online to set up your appointment today.