Wednesday, 28 December 2016 10:41

Regulating Stress Through Mindful Breathing

Written by   Julie Bach, executive director of Wellness for Cancer

Stress is an emotional state of unease; it is an experience ranging from mild feelings of unrest to intense feelings of turmoil. It clearly demonstrates that the sufferer does not have a good relationship with reality.

Many events happen in life that cannot be controlled. However, people always have a choice in how they respond. They also have a choice about whether or not they listen and participate in their own internal dialogue. If people are not mindful, they can cultivate feelings of anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, impatience, and self-doubt. When people are stressed, they deplete their energy and create inflammation in their body, which leads to a weakened immune system.

If clients mention that they are stressed, a healthy approach for them is to take responsibility for their own emotional state. It should never be someone else's fault. While many people want to blame others or events for their stress, they need to become emotionally mature enough to self-regulate their emotions.

One thing is definite: a person's thoughts, speech, and actions follow their emotional state.

The challenge is that most of humanity is walking around stressedout and on stimulants, which make them react very quickly. This society is stressed, overworked, and
sleep-deprived.

If clients are tired of being stressed or ruminating about their stress, they should be mindful of their breath.

Mindfulness of breath is the first pillar of mindfulness practices. It involves clients getting out of their head and into their body. What they will learn from this practice is to feel their breath and use it as a way to have a calm state of mind. As their breathing practice develops, they will learn to utilize the breath as a proxy for how they feel.

For example, if the professional notices subtle changes in their breath when they are a little anxious, they should recognize that time as inappropriate to enter a difficult conversation. Instead, they should self-regulate and then enter the conversation later.

Stress does not have to be overwhelming. Learn to self-regulate through difficult situations.

MINDFUL BREATHING
1. Begin breathing in and out of your abdomen for a few breaths. Notice the rise and fall of your breath and abdomen. Feel your breath in your lower back as you breathe into your abdomen. Repeat this step a few times.

2. Focus your attention on your solar plexus. Breath in and out. Feel your breath in the middle of your back. Expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale.

3. Continue this practice in your chest. Feel your breath completely in your chest and notice your chest expanding. Also notice your shoulders moving up and down with your breath.

4. Continue this practice by moving your breath to your throat, the middle of your head, the top of your head and the back of your neck.

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