STRESS: A 6 Letter Word That Can
Take 5 Minutes a Day to Fix
by Monica Fernandi | July 2019
Stress, fatigue, and a case of the blues are the #1 complaint in doctor’s offices these days, totaling a staggering 75-90% of reasons for trips to the doctor. Do you suffer from one of these ailments? Whether it is rooted in relationships, finances, or job situations, the spinning out of control scenario can cause your body to become restless at night, hyper-ventilate during the day, and simply lack desire and motivation to do ANYTHING. We may know what we “should” be doing but are not always feeling the drive to do it.
Does this hit home for you at all? In my fitness and personal training experience, I have heard the word stress a lot when asking how someone is feeling. It does not matter what age my clients are, that word becomes the obstacle for staying on the health and wellness course. Let me just say that stress is part of the human process, but it is HOW we handle it that can set its course. This is where the ancient yet scientific act of deep breathing can help you get to the heart of the matter. Stress is often a reaction to a fear based thought that, in a clinical sense, can be the cause of physical or mental tension. The top 3 stressors in a human being’s life are death, divorce and moving. Huge changes can trigger fear of the unknown and within a matter of minutes that fear can get us into shallow breath, depriving the body of much needed inner strength to get through what we are facing. Ultimately, your health is at stake if you continue to focus on what is stressing you out in the first place. Blood pressure can rise and the mind can spiral out of control if we give it the power to do so. What we think about expands and although it may seem impossible, if you shift your thoughts to more positivity you shall live and breathe more easily. Seemingly simple yet sometimes complex.
With the help of mindfulness and meditation you can start turning that stress around. Be patient and do your best. Starting out with repetition will truly pay off. Our thoughts sometimes need a baby-sitter and the act of sitting with them, much like you would a child in time out, can help build the calm muscles. If you already have a meditation practice perhaps you know how much this can help de-stress your life? Never done it before? Try these steps below and practice as much as you can. Like any new action or habit, be patient and repeat daily. The more you do it the more your body will want more of it. You will find more ease in traffic, more harmony with people that may trigger anger in you, and even more ability to sleep without disturbance. These are just some of the rewards in our everyday life but the overall grand prize is less stress and a happier you. Are you ready?
Sit comfortably and allow feet to touch the floor if seated in a chair
Notice your inhale, notice your exhale, notice the space between
Starting with the top of your head, be aware of your alignment and notice any discomfort. Adjust your posture if you are not comfortable
Continue your awareness down the entire body and feel what may need permission to relax
Close your eyes and picture a big white fluffy cloud
Put your current worries into that cloud in your mind’s eye. Start with just one word that represents those concerns- get it on that imaginary cloud and send it out with a big exhale.
Now choose a positive word and see it in your mind’s eye. Say the word to yourself as you breathe in and as you breathe out.
Continue to breathe deeply in and out for ten breaths.
Eventually ten becomes twenty and so on and so on.
Allow thoughts to come in to your mind and just notice them, then exhale them away.
Great job! I can say it until I am blue in the face, pardon the proverbial pun, but the breath is such an amazing tool to begin the de-stress journey. Together along with exercise, yoga, and meditation, this breath awareness and mindfulness are important components to your overall physical well-being. With just a few minutes each morning and a few more at the end of your day you can be sure to find a more peaceful you no matter what you are dealing with right now. You may even begin to become more aware of all the beauty in your life, including yourself!