Noun – A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances/pressures.
Pressures associated with the expectations of ourselves, family, health, well-being and work can often seem too much.
Some people encounter more stressful life events than others, though stress is an everyday fact of life, the way we perceive and react to stress is often more significant than the amount of stress we have, stress isn’t necessarily associated with unhappy events but happy ones too.
Feeling stressed or anxious can alter the way in which we breathe, often faster, using only the upper chest. This makes the lungs feel full and that you can’t take another breath, you may over breathe or hyperventilate to compensate or start to take big sighs of breath. This can produce all sorts of symptoms; physical and mental including light-headedness and poor concentration. This in turn can make you feel more anxious, stressed or even panicky as a result of breathing this way.
A quick routine to control your breathing, help you to feel calmer and more in control:
- Place your hands on your abdomen with your elbows resting comfortably at your sides ensuring the fingers of both hands meet just at the navel
- Inhale slowly to a count of 4 then exhale for the same count of 4
- Draw the abdomen in as you breathe out and you should feel your hands sinking
- Again inhale slowly, expand the abdomen like a balloon then slowly exhale drawing the abdomen in.
- The number you count is not important, the balance between the inward and outward breath IS important
- Again inhale slowly feel your fingers rising slightly
- Exhale and your fingers sinking
- Inhale and gently expand the abdomen
- Exhale and gently draw the abdomen in
- Now rest and breathe normally
Abdominal breathing reverses and helps control; worry, tension, stress, anxiety and panic.
Remember if you are relaxed – you can’t be tense!