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ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION: Easy Stress-Busting Strategy #1
Easy Stress-Busting Strategy #1: Deep Breathing
Are you sick and tired of people telling you to manage your stress? Would you like to try something that can help you feel better in less than five minutes? Deep breathing is easy and can make a big difference.
How can something as simple as breathing help your worried thoughts and anxious emotions? The fact is that we can carry our stress and anxiety in our bodies. When our fight-or-flight response is activated, our muscles tense up, our breathing gets fast and shallow, and our hearts pound as adrenaline courses through our bodies and blood rushes to our body core. While this can help keep you alive when you are fighting a bear in the woods or escaping a burning building, it’s not so helpful when you are sitting watching the nightly news. Some of us live our lives in an anxious state, tense and on alert for the next problem we have to face.
If you carry your stress in your body, then you can use your body to manage and release your stress. One of the easiest ways is through deep breathing. Ready to give it a try?
Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet planted on the floor, your head back and your arms resting at your sides. Many people find that closing their eyes helps them focus. Feel the chair holding you up and the floor solid under your feet.
Become aware of your breathing in and out. Consciously take the air in through your nose and release it through your mouth. As you take the air in, let it fill your abdomen and feel it expand. Gently let your abdomen fall as you release your breath. Your chest should stay still and your stomach should go out and in as you take in each breath and release it.
Slow down your breathing by slowly counting 1-2-3 as you breath in through your nose, hold 1-2-3, release the air through your mouth 1-2-3 and hold 1-2-3.
When you breathe in, tell yourself, “I have peace.” When you breathe out, tell yourself, “All is well.” As you do this, become aware of the tension gradually leaving your body.
Take ten slow, deep breaths.
If you are not used to deep breathing, it may feel strange at first. Your brain may argue with you and tell you things like, “This is stupid. I am NOT at peace and all is NOT well!” That’s normal. Don’t worry about it. You can do the ten deep breaths anyway--or you can start with one and work your way up. You can do deep breathing when you wake up, when you go to bed and anytime you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Most people find that each time, it makes them feel a little bit better, stronger and more able to handle the day--and it only takes about four minutes. If you make this a daily practice, over time it can make a tremendous difference.
Check out our post tomorrow for a second stress-busting technique. In the meantime, if you want some additional tips for coping with stress, click here.