The strange thing about stress is that we don’t always notice it. Sure, we say we’re really stressed when we’re busy, but the sense of actual stress affects the body subtly and without warning. It’s that sinking feeling in your stomach that makes your heart rate increase, causing you to sweat a bit more, and it’s difficult to focus on anything else except the cause of your stress.
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That’s why it can be so helpful when we’re reading for a big exam or preparing that major work presentation; it sharpens your minds a bit,and sends a strong signal to the slacker inside of you that this time, we’re in it to win it.
Here are a couple of tried and tested tips on how to use stress in controlled portions. You still get the benefits of a sharp and focused mind, but without all the constipating downsides.
There’s a reason that meditation and yoga have been celebrated so much for their ability to decrease stress; the secret is all in the breathing.
A stressed-out mind tends to ramble out on a solo adventure by leaping from one thought to another, making it impossible for you to gain the benefits of being able to concentrate a bit better.
Learn proper breathing techniques, even if you’re not chronically stressed, and you may be able to silence your mind for a few minutes – and it will come in handy right before the big exam or presentation as well. Focus on breathing deeply, count your way to 4, hold it for a second, and exhale for a count of 4.
The more you’re able to bring your mind inwards rather than outwards, the easier it will be to silence your mind and feel your heart rate decrease slightly.
You’re likely to experience a few health problems if the stress has gone from acute to chronic, and it’s important to have a talk with your physician or GI doctors to keep the problem from getting worse.
The 4-7-8 Exercise
A favorite exercise among many doctors is the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Sit up straight and comfortably, placing the tip of your tongue against the back of your front teeth. It should stay there during the entire exercise.
Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 7, and breathe out through your mouth for a count of 8, making that audible sound they tend to make in yoga classes. Repeat it 3 more times so that you’re completing 4 rounds in total.
Stress affects our bodies tremendously and even more so when it goes from acute to chronic. That’s when you should head off on a couple of weeks of meditation far into the forest and away from the noise of civilization – or just have a chat with your doctor, it’s up to you.
Use these techniques before you go to sleep too, by the way, to make it a bit easier to drift away.
Did you find these tips useful? How do you cope with stress?
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