We’ve been discussing stress and the significant, yet often hidden, impact it can
have on your life.
Many of us go through life on auto-pilot when it comes to what we are truly feeling
inside. We become so used to our stressful environment, we become desensitized
to it. Our “normal” state is actually an unhealthy one.
I’ve mentioned that one of the first steps you can take to handle stress is to assess
your response to stress.
Your response has mental, emotional and physical components. Diving into
the mental and emotional components can take a lot of work and a lot of
You have to be brutally honest with yourself about whether the choices
you are making in life are congruent with your values, and whether they are
moving you towards the type of life you want to have.
Whew! That’s some deep stuff there. C’mom Karen, I don’t have time for all
that? Can’t you give me something quicker?
Yes, I know, the type of self examination required to get at the heart of
your stress is beyond the scope of these tips. I’ll continue to suggest
it from time to time, though, because I think we could all benefit from
a bit more introspection at times.
In the meantime, while you set out to grapple with your inner demons, you
can usually identify some simple step or action to help you either
(1) decrease the stress in your life, or (2) better handle the stress you
To give you a simple example of the first type of action:
I used to always be late for meetings and conference calls. I was a principal
in a start-up IT company and wore many hats. So I was deluged all day
long (and often into the evenings) with meetings and conference calls I
“had to” attend.
Being perpetually late was starting to significantly impact my productivity.
It was very unprofessional and inconsiderate. Even more importantly, it was
increasing my stress.
So I made a decision: not only would I be on time to every meeting, I would
be five minutes early!
This small step prompted me to do a better job of scheduling. I learned to say
“No” to back-to-back meeting requests, or to meetings where I felt it wasn’t
really necessary for me to attend. This made a huge change in my experience
of stress at work.
Now, there are times when we don’t feel like we have any control over the
people and incidents that are creating excessive stress in our lives. We may
be going through a period in which we just have to suck it up and take it.
This lack of control is a hugely negative emotion. Anyone who has endured
this (which would be just about everyone) knows the feeling well. The harder you
struggle to assert control, the worse your situation seems to get.
In cases such as these, your best bet is to focus on what you CAN control.
Focus on your reaction to the person, condition or situation that is causing you
One of the best ways to do this is to attend to your breathing and posture.
More than likely, when you are stressed, your breathing is shallow and rapid,
and your posture is tight and hunched.
It’s important that you take a few minutes to step back, calm and deepen
your breathing, and improve your posture.
Simply changing your breathing pattern and standing (or sitting) up straight can
help you feel better, usually within a few short minutes.
Concentrate on breathing into the stress. Start by breathing into any areas of
your body that are tight or uncomfortable. (Your face, your shoulders or your lower back are a great place to start.)
With each breath, tell the tight areas to relax. Feel the breath you are inhaling converge upon those tight, uncomfortable areas. Feel it relaxing and soothing them.
Picturing a soothing color, such as light blue, may help you more easily relax
those tight muscles. Or you can visualize your muscles as tightly knotted
ropes that are slowly and steadily unraveling until they are completely loose.
I like to think of them as limp and loose like spaghetti noodles fresh out of the pot.
As you breathe, make sure you inhale and exhale through your nose. Place
the tip of your tongue on your soft palate (the area just behind your top front
teeth). This helps connect the circuit in your body that allows the energy
you are producing from your breathing to circulate throughout your body.
This technique works well when you are experiencing stressful conditions. It’s
also used to help patients or accident victims deal with pain.
Breathe into the tight or painful area. By doing this, you confront the tightness,
discomfort or pain in an intelligent way, instead of being victimized by it.
It’s like mental jujitsu. Rather than attacking head on (which usually increases
your symptoms or sensations of pain), you are enveloping it and taking control
Likewise, rather than attacking the stress you are feeling, assert control over
your breathing and posture first. Then you can control and reduce your perception
If you think you don’t have time to do this type of thing, or that it is too simple
to work, think again. This simple exercise only takes a few minutes. But it can
positively impact the rest of your day.
In the long run, it could add years to your life.
You Can Do It!
P.S. Cut through all the stress and mental tension, and relieve tight muscles
naturally and easily with the exercises in the Secret Power of Dynamic Energy
Exercise Course. The movements are easy and take only minutes to do!
You can get more information and order your copy today by visiting
the Best Breathing Exercises website.