How To Reduce Stress Naturally

How To Reduce Stress By Learning to Relax, and Breathe!

Learning to relax and breathe to reduce stress is key to staying healthy. Stress can cause shortness of breath and make breathing difficult. Whenever we start to feel short of breath, most people get nervous and anxious which can make matters worse. Anxiety causes our muscles that help us breathe to tighten and we begin to take short quick breaths and we breathe even faster. Our muscles become tired, and we experience more shortness of breath and more anxiety. We are now in a panic.

If we learn to control stress we can avoid this cycle. I’ll be sharing some tips to help you learn to relax along with some breathing techniques to help get more air into your lungs.

As the primary caregiver for a loved one living with dementia, you must find a way to de-stress. Some people can read a blog post, apply what they learn and have success. Some need more support. If you would like additional personal support from me, simply fill out a short form and I will contact you within 24-48 hours.  

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Let’s Look at Relaxation First

We have a relaxation response which is the opposite of the “fight or flight” response.

When we invoke relaxation, our breathing and heartbeat slow down, our blood pressure is lowered and our muscles relax.

We can trigger this response by learning how to meditate.

I like to do this method each morning before starting my day. I meditate on a bible verse that builds my mind and my spirit. This helps me get through each day without undue stress.

Learning to Relax

relaxation

I remember years ago saying “I have to Strive to Relax”.  As a young mother of 4 children there was a lot of stress in my life. Unfortunately I didn’t Learn to Relax until much later in life! I have learned that when I start to feel stressed, I look for a quiet place (even in the midst of chaos) where I can sit down if possible, think of the word or phrase I meditated on earlier and breathe.

Proper Breathing Is The Answer to Stress

Breathing and our emotions are intricately connected. Neuroscience has studied and shown that breathing patterns correlate to different emotions. Learning to breathe correctly lowers cortisol levels and can immediately relieve stress, anxiety, depression and anger.

Anxiety is often felt by a tightness in the chest along with an increase in heart rate and shallow fast breaths. It may feel like you cannot catch your breath. This rapid shallow type of breathing is our response to danger, called the “fight or flight response”. As our heart rate and blood pressure increases, our bodies automatically respond with the release of adrenalin and cortisol, the stress hormones. Blood surges to your muscles as you prepare to stand and fight or turn and run.

These hormones are only meant to remain in our bodies for a short period of time to help us escape the danger. Unfortunately for caregivers who are under chronic stress, these hormones remain in our bodies at elevated levels which cause havoc with our health.

Therefore, it is imperative, in my opinion, to learn various relaxation and breathing techniques, to help reduce these hormones and the stress in our bodies.

In a perfect situation, when the danger has passed, breathing should return to normal. However, most caregivers continue shallow breathing as a normal way of breathing and forget to take deep breathes throughout the day.

This needs to change, especially for caregivers who are experiencing increased or chronic stress.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

While watching my dog sleep I noticed that when he breathes his stomach rises and falls more than his chest. Babies also breathe from their stomachs and their chest doesn’t move like most adults.

We were actually meant to breathe abdominally since it stimulates the nervous system and brings about a state of calmness.

When we are stressed our sympathetic nervous system, via the amygdala deep within in our brain, engages the “fight or flight” state and our bodies feel that surge of adrenaline and cortisol.

Stop The Panic Before It Begins

When you begin to feel shortness of breath, stay calm, Stop whatever you are doing and sit or lie down if you can. Relax your shoulders, and place your arms on a table or desk in front of you.

Lean over slightly and take a deep breathe in through your nose and hold it for a few seconds then blow

the air out through pursed lips as if you are blowing out a candle.

Blow out for about 5 – 8 seconds until all the air is gone! This ensures that when you take the next breath, you will take in a greater amount of air.

This is the breathing method I taught patients to do when they returned from surgery or got home from the hospital to promote the healing process. Funny how it reduces stress as well.

Deep breathing exercises are one of the most effective forms relaxation and stress relief. Caregivers should learn this technique to help them deal with the chronic stress and anxiety they experience daily.

Has anyone ever told you to relax and take a deep breath when you have experienced anxiety or bad news?

In order to obtain maximum benefits, you need to practice breathing!

My main advice for healthy living is to learn how to take cleansing breaths throughout your day!

There are several different types of breathing exercises you can learn to relieve anxiety at the root cause which is stress.  These exercises will also help you if you experience sudden anxiety or panic.

Breathing correctly using the right types of breaths will help you handle stress and curtail anxiety before it has a chance to take hold.

Relaxation Response Breathing Technique

Our first breathing exercise is breathing with the diaphragm.  This is best practiced laying down or sitting in a chair. Once you have mastered this, you can do it anywhere.

Place a hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.

Slowly inhale through your nose while concentrating on keeping your chest still and expand your stomach.

Hold for a moment and then – Slowly exhale ALL the air through your mouth.

I like to teach people to exhale ALL the air through pursed lips like blowing out a candle. Be sure ALL air is exhaled.

Practice this at least 3-5 times throughout your day to reduce stress and anxiety.

After learning to breathe from your abdomen you will notice an increased resistance to stress.

But until you’ve mastered abdominal breathing, here are some other breathing techniques for you can try.

Technique number 2

Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

Focus on a single word or phrase of your choice that you are totally comfortable with.

Examples are “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

Breathe from your abdomen while silently repeating your word or phrase.

Do this for 10 minutes a day along with diaphragmatic breathing.

There are several more breathing techniques, but these 2 are the best I have found to quickly reduce stress and anxiety and when practiced and focused on, you will reap the benefit!

Here are some tips to try when you feel that tightening of your chest and stomach:

  • Find a spot where you can sit.
  • Tighten and relax each muscle in your body starting at your toes and work your way to your head.
  • Imagine your muscles relaxing and becoming heavy.
  • Try to empty your mind of all thoughts.
  • Let yourself relax more and more deeply.
  • Become aware of the state of calmness that surrounds you.

Of course, this is not always possible to do. When you are faced with a situation where you cannot get away and sit for a few minutes, you must begin to BREATHE.

 One last tip…When dealing with a care partner who is out of control, START your deep breathing in a very pronounced manner and encourage them to join you…You will be amazed that they will usually follow what you are doing and the both of you will soon relax.

Remember, If you would like some personal help Click here. I will be in touch with you within 24 - 48 hours.

If you have found value please leave a comment and share this with someone you know who could benefit!  May God richly bless you today and always.

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