Anxiety and Stress are two huge problems in the U.S.
Our lives are going so fast we have a hard time relaxing, and prolonged stress will lead to health problems in the future.
There are two tricks I use to deal with stress in the moment. These techniques are effective in forcing your brain from the Sympathetic Nervous system (SNS) “fight or flight” to our Parasympathetic Nervous system (PNS) “rest and digest”.
Someone with anxiety, typically, is in a prolonged state of SNS with a constant release of cortisol. This will eventually lead to adrenal fatigue with symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, body aches and sleeplessness. SNS is needed to keep us safe but PNS is not essential to overall body functions. Your body will never actively force a state of PNS. So you have to activate it. Practices like Yoga and Meditation give you the tools to maintain a healthy defense against stress. The two tricks I use help in the moment and stop SNS from taking over.
Trick one: Diaphragmatic Breathing
The diaphragm sits at the bottom of your lungs and when you inhale it will drop down and push out allowing for a bigger volume of air into the lungs. As babies we breathe this way. But as we grow older we eventually teach ourselves to breathe using our upper chest and shoulders. Never allowing for a truly deep breath.
By breathing deep our heart rate and blood pressure decrease. This effectively tells our brain that we are in a safe place and its time to activate PNS.
The next time you are stressed take three diaphragmatic breaths allowing each exhale to be longer than the last. In through the nose and out through the mouth.
Trick Two: 5 seconds
Seems simple right? But how many times have you reacted to something immediately and regretted it? Do yourself a favor and count to 5 in your head when you are stressed. Adding deep breathing to this will increase the effect. But overall the idea is when you concentrated on counting your brain focuses on that simple task. This decreases your heart rate and deepens your breathing.
The next time you feel stressed try one of these techniques. See if they work for you! If they do please share with me your experience. I would love to hear it!