You may be like many people who have the never-ending To Do list. Most people have difficulty juggling the demands of modern life: work, family, finances, maintaining a home, texts, e-mails, etc. It is crucial to establish a balance in your life of work and play, or else your body and mind never have a chance to recover. Our body was not meant to endure the constant barrage of stimuli, which incessantly calls our attention and causes the release of stress hormones. These chemicals, cortisol and adrenaline, tell our hearts to beat harder, our lungs to breathe faster, and our muscles to tighten up. The cortisol/adrenaline cocktail, combined with high-fat foods and lack of exercise (who has time to exercise with all there is to do?), is the exact recipe for lining your arteries with plaque, otherwise known as atherosclerosis. This puts you at risk for high blood pressure, a stroke or even a heart attack.
This is how lifestyle contributes to disease. What to do? First, don't wait until you become sick to make changes to your lifestyle. Second, don't wait until your next vacation, the weekend or even the end of the day to insert some relaxation into your day. You may be saying, "But I'm so busy during the day, I don't have time to relax!" It's easier than you think and takes less time than you may realize. Start by taking one minute - ONE MINUTE - to focus on your breathing - NOTHING ELSE - just your breathing. See if you can slow your breathing down to 3 seconds in, 3 seconds out for one minute. Congratulations. You just gave your body a break. It may not seem like much but that simple gift of honoring your body for one minute just helped your heart rate and breathing slow down. As a result, your body temporarily stopped pumping cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. Maybe you could do it 3 times a day for one minute, say 9am, Noon, and 3pm. Or if you do a lot of driving, maybe do focused breathing whenever you're at a red light.
BUT . . . (There's always a caveat isn't there?) Yes, like everything else, practice makes perfect. Focused breathing for one minute 3 times a day isn't guaranteed stress-reduction. It has to be part of a commitment to yourself - your mind and body. This commitment should include visiting your doctor for a regular checkup, eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising your body regularly, and balancing your work/rest pattern every day. Eventually, you might be able to slow your breathing down to 4 seconds in, 4 seconds out, for a minute. Rather than only 3 times a day, maybe do focused breathing for one minute every hour, on the hour. Better yet, perhaps sometime in the evening, I recommend right before you lay down to go to sleep, give yourself 15 minutes of focused breathing. Believe it or not that's called meditation. Especially if you are in a quiet, dimly lit room without any distractions. It doesn't have to take an hour to be good for you - just 15 minutes a day. You don't have to sit in lotus position, burn incense, wear birkenstocks, eat tofu and bean sprouts, or travel to the far East, to meditate. More on that in a future blog article . . .
Please call me for a free phone consultation if you want to discuss your stress level further. My phone number: (203) 493-0344. Or you can send me an e-mail at [email protected]