In order to fall prey to the effects of stress, you must first recognise that stress is not about external environmental conditions such as traffic jams, economic demands or a busy life style.
The key to being a master of stress is to realise that stress is how you react physically, mentally and emotionally to you own internal perceptions of events in your life. How we see the world determines how we construct our personal reality. We either live most of our day in the calm using all the eustress or good stress we need to thrive in life, or we allow all sorts of stressors to trigger negative responses to things we generally have little or no control over.
How we see the world signals our bodies to react in one of two ways. Our internal perceptions can create a world for us where overwhelm, anxiety, fear, anger, resentment or self-doubt are the rulers and control our lives. The other option is that we can embrace a world where we create calm, surround ourselves with loving and supporting friends and work mates and create a balance between a hectic full on busy life as a high achiever, with some exercise and relaxation as part of our daily timetable we set ourselves.
Back in the late 1980s I was introduced to breath work when I was full on running our high volume chiropractic practice, being the president of a very active Foundation and Chairing a major national fundraising program, teaching a post graduate education course around the country on weekends, the father to three recently adopted older children from overseas who were learning to speak English and assimilate into a new world and be the best husband I could be. A life path that was loaded with stress possibilities.
Why did I explore breath work at this amazingly hectic time in my life?
As a chiropractor I have always known that the nervous system is the master control system in the body, and a balanced nervous system is a key factor in good health.
Apart from my early morning exercise of running or cycling I started to take a couple of hours a week out of my hectic schedule for ME TIME. A friend referred me to an excellent massage therapist. Rhonda introduced me to the power of the breath and incorporated breath work into her massage sessions.
Rhonda related to me that we either flood our bodies with stress hormones that set into motion a chronic condition of tension and strain on all the body’s systems or we can communicate to the body with a balanced, relaxed, life-affirming physiological message. So the master of stress must begin to master his internal reality first.
How we breathe either directly reinforces stressful patterns or reduces and eliminates them. Hold your breath when you are angry, and your stress increases. Take shallow, arrhythmic breaths with frequent sighing and this can extend bouts of depression. On the other hand, taking a deep breath releases tensions, calms the emotions and energises the body.
Next week I’ll take you further on my de-stressing journey using the breath.