Rather than worrying about stress or succumbing to it, you can actively reduce its influence. And you can achieve and maintain a sense of calm by practicing a number of techniques.
Rather than worrying about stress or succumbing to it, you can actively reduce its influence. In fact, with a little effort you can actually make your body relax.
Try this simple technique: Shut your eyes and take a deep breath. Hold it for a few seconds, then let it out. Take another breath and hold it longer than the first one. Let it out fully. Take a third breath and hold it even longer.
Now deliberately slow down your breathing rate. Exhale and inhale more fully, but at a leisurely pace. Let your breathing return to a natural rhythm. Notice how you feel. Odds are you’re calmer now than when you began the exercise.
Like stress, this exercise targets the sympathetic nervous system, but with dramatically different and healthier results. By slowing down your breathing rate, you set off a ripple effect in your body. Your pulse and metabolism return to a more leisurely pace because you’re quieting your involuntary reactions. In other words, you’re experiencing the relaxation response.
Triggering that response is easy, even on the first try. You’ll find that with practice your body will learn to slip quickly into relaxation.
Relaxation Made Easy
Although the best antidote for stress may be a month-long vacation in a tropical paradise, chances are that’s not a realistic option. If you’re one of those people who can’t remember the last vacation you took, relaxation doesn’t have to be something you just dream about. You can achieve and maintain a sense of calm by practicing a number of techniques. All are surprisingly quick and simple, and you can even do some in your car, at your desk or in the kitchen.
If you have five minutes to spare, try some of the following techniques. And if your schedule is so crowded that you can’t imagine taking a few moments to relax, stop and think of how many times a day you get a cup of coffee or a cold drink. Any of these exercises can be done in that amount of time. Use them as a general preventative, or to prepare when you anticipate stress, such as before accepting a difficult phone call or attending an anxiety-provoking meeting.
© Kathy Biehl 2009. All Rights Reserved. Do not use, reproduce or electronically forward this article without the prior written permission of the author. Karma, ya know.