Dealing with Stress
Learning to Breathe

Dealing with stress is vital not only to your health but also to your level of focus and clarity. Stress, way back in the day, used to be about finding food, shelter, and escaping the occasional rogue bear.

These days, stress is almost entirely mental. Either you’re stressed because you feel that your obligations are never finished (with work, kids, family, etc…) or you are worried about what the future will look like. It is stressful to try to control each detail of our lives.

If you’ve read my most recent newsletter, you learned that I recently felt a bit lost. Yes, feeling lost can be stressful if, like me, you took a few months to desperately try to be found. When I finally decided to give into being lost and trust that I would be found, I let go of having an agenda. I put the self-help books aside and simply decided to learn to breathe.

When we get stressed, our breathing becomes very short and shallow. We are literally letting less life in. The tension in our stressed-out mind is reflected in a stressed-out body. Dealing with stress often seems like an introspective mental exercise of trying to figure out how to (omit-handle life, a.k.a.) control everything. Oddly enough, exactly the opposite is true. The best way to handle stress is to move out of your head and into your body. Learning to breathe properly is one of the best places to start.

Recently, while I was sitting in my car, I realized that my breathing had become very shallow. I began to breathe in as deeply as I could, feeling all of my chest muscles expand. I pictured my entire torso expanding like a balloon. I then exhaled as completely as I could, letting the muscles return to a more relaxed state. In and out, over and over again. No agenda, no “special technique,” just deep breathing. Each time I was in the car or lying in bed, I got an urge to practice breathing again. I started noticing how I tended to only allow air into the upper portion of my lungs. I realized that with simple intention I could expand my lower diaphragm to allow more air into my body. Eventually, I realized that I was breathing deeper more often without conscious effort. It was a simple gift to give myself,

especially when I wasn’t sure what else to do.

If you are dealing with stress, take a moment to breathe deeply. It is so simply fundamental to becoming a relaxed and functional human being. The deeper the breath, the quieter the stressful thoughts.

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