* I am not a doctor. I am a yoga instructor and movement educator that studies the body and loves anatomy. Overtime my advice and knowledge will change. Please always see a doctor for any medical concerns. Thank you!
Let’s all take a collective exhale. Ahhhhhh…okay! Who hasn’t been stressed? We’re human, right? Stress feels as if we have the weight of the world sitting on our shoulders as responsibility lies heavily on our chest. Whether it’s work, family, friends, or planning a big event, life can become stressful and often spiral out of control. Instead of losing your cool when these big moments hit, have a few go-to’s to keep in your back pocket when life starts to stress you out.
Breathing plays a fundamental role in our mental health and overall well-being. Posture, stress, and anxiety factor in to how we inhale and exhale. When stressed or anxious, breathing originates in the chest (clavicular breathing) mostly eliminating the muscle of the diaphragm. Clavicular breathing is a shallow breath that allows for the least amount of oxygen to fill the lungs. Abdominal breathing contracts the diaphragm and triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, calming the body down for relaxation. Sending each inhale down to the lower belly towards the diaphragm, calms the nervous system with each slow repetition. The diaphragm is a large muscle dividing the thoracic and abdominal cavities. It contracts and draws downward during inhalation, sucking air into the lungs like a vacuum. The diaphragm then relaxes and rises up on the exhalation drawing the air out of the lungs. Focusing on each inhale and exhale for several counts is extremely meditative and healing for the body. Keep your breath low and your head held high.
Different types of myofascial release (applying pressure into myofascial connective tissue) can relieve unwanted tension in the body. Massage increases circulation and rings out tight muscles and tissues in the body from stressful mental and physical activity. Go for a massage, hop on a foam roller/therapy balls, or have your loved one give you a back rub. The feeling of touch is comforting, healing and eases the physical effects of stress on the body.
Movement is medicine as many experts indicate. Channeling that stress into movement can increase energy, improve concentration and help with sleep. Stress can leave the body exhausted, unmotivated, and in extreme cases lead to illness. If there’s a way to move each day, why not try it? Walk, run, take a dance class, do yoga or grab a fit bit and count your steps!
Manage stress with these tools in order to find relief when life get’s in the way.
Biel, Andrew. Trail Guide to the Body, Fourth Edition. Boulder, CO: Books of Discovery, 2010.