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Managing Stress pt. 2

This is the sec­ond of a three part series. In this series we will dis­cuss the sources of stress and then how to deal with them.


Last week we wrote about the mean­ing and the sources of stress in the first part of this arti­cle. This week we want to share with you a few tips and a few prac­ti­cal things you can do if you want to man­age your stress. Before we get into the prac­ti­cal part, I would like to share with you the rela­tion­ships that take place as a result of stress.

For me, the most inter­est­ing rela­tion­ship is that of emo­tion­al stress and your breath­ing. An increase in stress lev­els caus­es a phys­i­o­log­i­cal impact on your breath­ing. Search­ing youtube I came upon this video, now, it illus­trates well how an increase in stress will lead to a respons­es in the breath­ing. Impor­tant to note is that this video was being shown to an audi­ence and peo­ple were laugh­ing. I do not endorse that and I am pret­ty sure that if any of those peo­ple laugh­ing were placed in the same sit­u­a­tion they would not find it amus­ing.

Try to recall a sit­u­a­tion where you were stressed and try to remem­ber your breath­ing.

I think that the rela­tion­ship of stress and breath­ing is clear. My friend Gus­ta­vo from Lon­don, has put it very well: “Stress is the psy­cho-organ­ic state pro­duced by the gap between your poten­tial and the chal­lenges that you need to be face to achieve this.”

But is the oppo­site true? If your stress can change the way you breathe, can the way you breath change your lev­el of stress?

Well, let us run a lit­tle exper­i­ment. We are going pay some atten­tion to the way you are breath­ing and try to observe if that has any effect on you. The exer­cise will take around 3 min­utes and if you would like you can do it for longer.

First a few ground rules: try to breathe exclu­sive­ly through your nos­trils in this exer­cise. We are going to aim to cap­ture as much air as pos­si­ble with every breath, there­fore, breathe as deeply as you can. In order to enhance your expe­ri­ence we rec­om­mend that you sit down in a com­fort­able posi­tion, or that you try this exer­cise lay­ing down with your back on the floor, your feet on the ground and your knees touch­ing each oth­er.

The abdomen is one of the first parts of the body to tense under stress. There­fore, in our exer­cise the first step is to expand your abdomen every time you inhale, and con­tract it when you exhale. The sec­ond step is to become con­scious of each of the four stages in your breath­ing process: inhala­tion, main­tain­ing the lungs full, exha­la­tion and main­tain­ing the lungs emp­ty. The third step is to try to add a rhythm to this breath­ing, use the mea­sure of 4 sec­onds and apply it to each of the four stages: inhale in 4 sec­onds, retain air in your lungs for 4 sec­onds, exhale in 4 sec­onds and stay with your lungs emp­ty for 4 sec­onds. Remem­ber to breathe exclu­sive­ly with your nos­trils and con­tin­ue this tech­nique for a cou­ple of min­utes.

When you fin­ish try to observe your state of mind. The next time you feel you may be start­ing to feel stressed try this exper­i­ment. in sim­ple bul­let points:

  • Find a com­fort­able posi­tion;
  • Breathe exclu­sive­ly through your nos­trils;
  • Con­cen­trate on expe­ri­enc­ing each of the four stages in your breath­ing cycle:  inhala­tion, main­tain­ing the lung full, exha­la­tion and main­tain­ing the lungs emp­ty;
  • Try to exe­cute each of these stages for 4 sec­onds;
  • Main­tain this tech­nique for a cou­ple of min­utes, or longer if you feel com­fort­able.
  • If you feel dizzy, stop.

At the end of this tech­nique you should observe your­self, observe your state of mind if there was any change in the lev­el of stress you feel. These steps are a great start at your process of man­ag­ing stress.

If you find that you do not have a cou­ple of min­utes or that main­tain­ing this tech­nique for a cou­ple of min­utes is dif­fi­cult remem­ber one impor­tant tip: your most valu­able asset is the machin­ery which car­ries your brain and allows you to exe­cute all of your dreams and desires — take your time to main­tain and care for your body. This sim­ple exer­cise is a great way of giv­ing your­self a lit­tle atten­tion and care.

In the next arti­cle in this series we are going to give some oth­er tips about the work­ing of stress and how to man­age your stress through oth­er habits in your life.

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