Stress can feel complicated. Approaching and managing stress should feel not complicated. In recovery, a commonly used saying is: keep it simple. Stress management should be simple. As complicated as stress can be, stress management can be simple. Such is the philosophy behind the saying to “keep it simple”. Keeping stress management simple actually makes the stress more simple. A trick by nature, a practice by discipline, keeping stress management simple changes the way you relate to stress.
Stress is what we make it. We realize quickly when we practice stress management that we are in complete control of how we react to stress. Breathing, for example, is one of the most basic ways to manage stress. Stress is primarily a physical reaction. Part of the fight or flight system, stress is a physical response to a perceived threat which could possibly live entirely in the mind. Breathing reduces the heart rate, which immediately reduces the effect of stress hormones produced by the fight or flight system. Without breathing, in addition to other relaxation techniques, stress hormones have an adverse effect on the body as well as the mind. Stress contributes to disease, disorders, illness, and mental health conditions. Stress-relief focused breathing is a stand alone practice as well as a part of meditation and mindfulness, in addition to yoga. Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga are all proven practices for effectively reducing stress, all the way down to a molecular level. These practices are simple and can be done in as little as five to ten minutes a day.
Breathing is a simple tool for stress because breathing is simple. Coming “back to the breath” as it is described, is simple. Breathing is something we do every single day, every single minute of the day. Yet, we rarely pay attention to the breath. We don’t always breathe as deeply as we need to. When we take a moment to really focus on taking a deep breath, we are often amazed at the result. Instantaneously, our bodies relieve tension, in areas we weren’t aware we had tension. Our brains become a little more fuzzy and soften. Immediately, our stress in that moment is relieved. We come back to center and find a more relaxed foundation to operate from. The every detail of our stress may not be managed or resolved. However, in order to go about handling stress we have to manage how we approach stress. All it takes is one deep breath.