I have been asked many times about stress management. The question is not about removing the busyness of life, but about handling the challenges that life brings without going into a tailspin.
My plan was, and is, to post a series of short practical tips for stress management.
Around Valentine’s Day, I realized that one of the behaviors that goes along with the euphoria of being in love is a particular kind of breathing. You look adoringly at your lover, take a deep breath and sigh. It is so universal it’s called a “love sigh.”
The love sigh is usually unconscious. You take a deep breath and then let it go.
We naturally use the same process whenever we are confronted with something that is particularly beautiful or awesome. I look out at the ocean and mountains and I’m struck by the wonder. If I pay attention, I notice that my breathing deepens.
You can harness this very natural breathing process associated with love and wonder and euphoria whenever you need a strategy for reducing stress.
When you are under stress and need some relief, pause for a moment and take a few long deep breaths. After each deep inhalation, let the air go from your lungs and with it visualize the tension leaving each part of your body. Try it; make it a habit; it’s easy.
Deliberate and deep breathing has another benefit. As you become more conscious of your breathing when under stress, you may find that you have been holding your breath rather than breathing normally. Holding your breath deprives you of oxygen and increases stress. So in practicing this little breathing exercise when under stress, you gradually replace a stress-inducing habit with a healthier stress-reducing habit.