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Stress and how to calm your body in 1 minute!

If you live in the world, you probably experience stress (thank you Master of the Obvious!).  Stress is not inherently a bad thing but the way that most of us in our modern world live with low grade stress regularly is terrible for our health and immunity (and energy, sleep, maintaining weight...you get the point).

Back in the day when we lived in caves and occasionally had to run from a tiger or bear, accessing our "flight or fight" sympathetic nervous system was really helpful.  That's the part of our brain that releases cortisol and epinephrine (aka adrenaline) so when running from a giant animal that wants to make us into a snack, those stress hormones are quite useful!  However in our current world, we don't have to run from tigers or bears (or if you do, you are living a way cooler life than I am).  

Unfortunately when we freak out at work, jump at an email notification, worry constantly about our children's safety or are unable to quiet our monkey brains, our bodies cannot differentiate between this perceived stress (replying to 100 emails) and actual stress (running from a bear).  So our sympathetic nervous systems are activated and constantly secreting those stress hormones.  This leads to adrenal fatigue as well as increase in blood pressure, decrease in digestive function, reproductive function and thyroid function.  So, pretty bad stuff.  You can read more here about the effects of stress on your body and digestion.

I don't say any of this to make you feel guilty, bad or nervous.  Just saying that being conscious of your daily low-grade stress level is important.  Here's the upside-you can change the way you let stress affect your body in just one minute.  Here's what to do:

Sit tall in a chair or if you can't sit, stand still
Close your eyes (even if you are in your office or at the grocery store)
Exhale fully until your belly is totally deflated and you have no more air
Take a breath through your nose to the count of 7 (slow 7 counts)
Hold your breath for a count of 5
Slowly exhale for a count of 8
Repeat this a total of four times

Do this as much as you need to during the day to quiet your mind and slow your heart rate!

Photo cred: livehappy.com



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