We know stress isn’t healthy. Real stress like “I can’t pay my house payment” or “I’m going through a divorce” is more obvious in its health-damaging properties. However, even the things you think of as the little stresses of life can do your body damage as they accumulate over time. Even things you worry about that don’t ever really happen are detrimental. Your body reacts to worry as if the thing is actually happening right now. You’ve envisioned the crisis, and your subconscious mind doesn’t reason out that the threat is imaginary.
You’re relaxed now, right? OK, so think of something you have been worrying about lately. What if the worst happened? What if the phone rang right now, confirming your worst fear to be true? Have you started breathing a little faster? Is your stomach starting to feel a little funny? Are your hands shaking? Your body is responding to your thoughts. Here’s another example of that. Think of a wonderful yellow lemon. Imagine holding it in your hand and then putting it down on a cutting board and cutting it in half. Now imagine squeezing the juice of that lemon right into your mouth. Did just thinking of this make your jaw tighten? Did you salivate?
Your thoughts act as things to your body. Be aware of and control your thoughts, and you can begin to control your health. In those stressful moments when you can feel your heart rate increase, or your breathing change, or a tension headache coming on, take time to breathe. Here’s how to do it:
- Slowly breathe in through your nose. Breathe deeply from the abdomen, not raising the shoulders, and count to four.
- Hold that breath in for the same count.
- Slow exhale for the same count.
- Then, hold your breath out for the same count. Note: If the exercise is too difficult for you, lower the counts to one, two or three.
- Repeat the exercise until you can feel the tension or nervousness leaving your body.
- Do this exercise every time you feel stress coming on, and also to relax at the end of the day.
For more information on the whole Morter HealthSystem, go to www.morter.com.