Thursday, August 17, 2017

An Easy, Yet Powerful Stress Management Tip

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Filed under Stress Management

 

Last week, I had a stressful interaction with someone at work.  As I continued to try to reason with the person, I become more agitated.  Ideally, I would have left the area to take a brisk walk.  Even a five minute walk can be very helpful for reducing stress, calming down and gaining a fresh perspective.  Unfortunately, I could not leave the area due to time constraints.  Fortunately, I remembered a stress management method that can be done anywhere and anytime: deep breathing. Deep breathing seems like it would be too simple to work, but it is surprisingly effective.

 

According to researchers, your breathing becomes shallower when you are under stress. Your heart rate and blood pressure increases, causing blood to flow more rapidly from your brain to your arms and legs. This is the classic fight-or-flight stress response that instantly mobilizes your body to enable it to respond to danger. However, with less oxygen available to your brain, you don’t think as objectively.  This is unfortunate, because during stress, you really need to think clearly.

 

Fortunately, there is a simple way to undo the stress reaction. Slow, deep breathing will help reverse your body’s fight-or-flight stress response.  When you take slow, deep breaths, you decrease the accumulation of carbon dioxide in your body, thereby increasing oxygen to your brain.  This enables you to think more clearly and regain control of your thought processes.

 

Whenever you take deep breaths, oxygen begins to saturate the alveoli, the lungs innermost air sacs.  This stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to release feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.  This makes you feel calm almost immediately.

 

It sounds almost too good to be true: simply breathing deeply can make you happier and more relaxed?  But it’s been proven scientifically.  The May 2011 issue of the International Journal of Psychophysiology featured a study conducted by researchers at Toho University of Medicine in Japan.  The researchers taught healthy men and women to breathe deeply into their abdomen for twenty minutes.

 

Immediately after their deep breathing session, the subjects were tested.  It was found that they had more of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin in their bloodstream. This would explain why they reported fewer negative feelings.  They also had more oxygenated hemoglobin in their prefrontal cortex.  This area of the brain is associated with attention and high-level processing.  Simply by breathing deeply for twenty minutes, they were able to concentrate better and think more creatively.

 

This is what I did, as I continued to interact with the person I mentioned above.  I took deep breathes for a couple minutes and I quickly started to feel more relaxed.  I was able to calm down and find a creative solution that was acceptable to everyone.

 

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4 Responses to “An Easy, Yet Powerful Stress Management Tip”
  1. Dana Blois says:

    Stress can be defined many different ways. The most common definition is, stress is the body’s response to an outside situation in one’s life. Stress effects one’s environment, life and others around them in many ways. Sometimes these situations get the better of us and we have trouble dealing with the feelings of stress. You may become irritable, hostile, angry or overly sensitive just to name a few. Sometimes our physical body deals with the stress in an unhealthy way as well. You may have high blood pressure, become depressed, develop ulcers, or have a heart attack. It is important to learn what your stress triggers are and how to deal with both the triggers and the effects. Only by learning this will you be able to successfully manage your stress.^

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  2. Ramonita Tkach says:

    Modern-day living is too demanding that stress is almost inevitable. This is especially true for those who are living in highly urbanized areas. Stress is a consequence of fast-paced lifestyles. Careers, family life, relationships, and social pressures are the most common causes of stressful situations that may lead to health problems if not properly managed.”

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  3. Tayna Nickolich says:

    Stress management is always necessary if you want to be more productive and most importantly, if you want a longer and healthier life. *,';`

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  4. Damian says:

    Quite an interesting read. As a stress management coach myself, I have to say that you have touched on one of the best but often ignored tools for managing stress… controlled breathing!