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From Rita Miller,RN,BC,BSPA

“I am so stressed.”  How many times have you heard that or said it yourself?

Well, you are not alone because being alive inevitably involves stress.  Stress is not a bad thing; in fact it is a form of energy.  Like anything else in life, too little or too much of it is not good.

Stress can motivate you and it can give you valuable information on how your body handles it.

Last week, I was going to an appointment, thinking I had left the house in plenty of time.  By the way, one of my major sources of stress is thinking I can get somewhere MUCH FASTER than traffic allows.  Anyway, I encountered a railway crossing with an endless train that was traveling about 2 miles per hour.  I could feel the stress increasing as the train was almost stopped with no end in sight.

When I finally made it to my doctor’s appointment, my blood pressure was 40 points higher than ever before in my life.  I asked the nurse to wait a minute while I took a few deep cleansing breaths and imagined myself walking on a beach.  When she took the blood pressure again, it had dropped by 36 points.

There are many techniques for managing our stress to make it work for us rather than against us.  Take charge of your stress by focusing on your breathing.  Then put you hand on your stomach and take in a nice deep breath through your nose.  Your stomach should rise.

Breathe in to a steady count of 4, then hold your breath to a steady count of 7, then gently blow out the breath through your lips to a steady count of 8.  This is called the 4-7-8 breathing technique.  With this technique, you are breathing out twice as much as you breathed in, so your next inspiration will be much deeper.

Practice this whenever you are stressed or anxious.  Any everyday annoyance is really an opportunity for you to practice this very healthy, effective technique.