We are a stressed out nation. About 75% of people experience physical and psychological symptoms caused by stress. About 50% of people lay awake at night because of stress.
Chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide, according to the American Psychological Association. Stress has permeated our lives and embedded itself in our daily routine. Do you even know you’re stressed?
Anxiety and tension from stress are so common people think its OK. If they’re not having a heart attack then it’s not too much to handle. Unfortunately, stress builds up and can become a serious problem. Clearly that’s happening in American life. If three-quarters of the population is showing signs of stress we’re letting it build up.
Sleeplessness, weight gain, inconsistent meals, and back pain are all physical signs stress has creeped into your life. Mentally and emotionally there are signs as well. Forgetfulness, irritability, lack of motivation, racing thoughts and lack of concentration are some of the signs.
Stress can show itself in your behavior as well. Your work or school performance may be suffering. You’re eating too much or binging. Your alcohol or tobacco use may be increasing. You may be having trouble with decisions or responsibilities. Stressful behavior makes its way into your daily habits and routines and you have trouble sticking with them.
Exercise is a great stress reducer. Any regular physical exercise is going to help reduce this anxiety. The physical exertion of exercise releases hormones that deal with stress. Your self-esteem improves and you can get rid of excess energy and high emotion. Getting into the gym for regular workouts does wonders for your stress levels.
One of the things you do when you exercise is breath deeply. Deep, controlled breathing is incredibly important when we move our bodies. It coordinates our cardio systems with our muscular system so we can perform at a higher level. Exercise helps coordinate our breathing and control stress.
You can practice deep breathing almost anywhere. You don’t have to be in the gym. You can train your breathing while you’re sitting at your desk or in your car.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out so that your diaphragm is put to maximal use.
2. Hold your breath briefly.
3. Exhale slowly, thinking “relax.”
4. Repeat this entire sequence 5-10 times, concentrating on breathing deeply and slowly.
Identify the stress in your life and learn effective ways to deal with it. Exercise and deep breathing will help significantly!