They say stress kills.
Studies are actually proving this is true; a recent study of cancer patients shows that stress reduction may prolong lives. We know that prolonged exposure to stress can cause vascular, cardiac, endocrine, and brain function changes. When the body is under stress — whether physical, emotional or perceived — it releases hormones like adrenaline that are responsible for the fight or flight response.
The immediate physical reaction includes:
• Increased Heart Rate
• Accelerated Breathing
• Constriction of Blood Vessels in Some Areas and Dilation of Blood Vessels to Muscles
• Dilation of Pupils
• Hearing Loss
• Tunnel Vision
• Perspiration to Cool the Body
While these responses were once helpful to keep us alive during our evolution and gradual climb to the top of the food chain, they are not helpful in any way shape or form while running late for work, stuck in traffic, or just plain having a bad day. In fact, not only does long-term exposure cause physiological damage, you can become addicted to the chemicals released during periods of stress, thus creating a cycle that’s difficult to break.
Long-term effects of exposure to stress can range from weakened immune system to major cardiac events. It has even been proven to cause visible signs of aging.
Everyone has a different response to stressors in their life. What may put you on edge might be a slight annoyance for me. Knowing what your major stressors are and learning to mitigate your reaction both emotional and physiological will play a major role in your overall well-being and happiness.
One quick way to immediately reduce your stress response is to place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Almost instantly you become aware of your breathing. Now focus on moving your breathing from your chest down into your belly. Breathe slowly, comfortably and evenly for at least 5 to 10 breaths. Then once you’re sure you are belly-breathing, remove the hand from your belly and with the remaining hand on your chest take another deep breath and exhale while saying “aaah.” You really want to take that sound into your chest and do your best to vibrate your hand.
This is called toning. The majority of my clients report a 50 percent reduction in their SUDS (Subjective Units of Distress Scale) immediately.