Take a breather, relax

...relax...let the tension go...


As you do this work there will be periods of stress that will seem inescapable.  While it is okay and productive to simply remain in that state until you move forward there are measures you can take for temporary relief in a positive manner.  The following breathing techniques are useful:

Stress Relief via Breathing Strategies

The body's primary natural method of stress response reduction is to engage the parasympathetic nervous system to counteract the tension producing action of the sympathetic nervous system. There is perhaps no more direct route to parasympathetic nervous system activation than through the breath. Conscious deep rhythmic breathing has a calming effect on the body, and tends to help the heart rate to slow down, the mind to quiet and attention to turn inward towards the sensation of inhalation and exhalation.

Relaxation Response

Pick a focus word or phrase. (A single syllable word or sound such as "one","calm","om","ah", but any word or tone you find restful will work well.)

Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes.
Relax your muscles.
Breathe slowly and naturally, repeating your focus word or phrase as you exhale.
Continue this simple practice for ten to twenty minutes or until you get sleepy and want to go to bed or take a nap.  Then go to sleep! Otherwise, do not worry about how well you are doing. Try to concentrate on your breathing and your focus word or tone. If other thoughts come to mind, gently direct your mind back towards your breathing.  Shallow breathing causes the hand on the chest to move the most.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Another related simple and effective method for releasing body tension is diaphragmatic breathing, which involves breathing deeply from your diaphragm.  Adults tend to breathe in a very shallow way, using only the upper part of the chest. This tendency is exacerbated during times of stress, as breathing becomes even more shallow and rapid. Deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing releases tension from the muscles by improving the flow of oxygenated blood throughout our bodies.  Deep, diaphragmatic breathing causes the hand on your abdomen to move the most.  Continue breathing deeply for 5 or 10 minutes or until you feel like going to sleep or taking a nap.  Then take your nap! Otherwise, concentrate on moving the hand on your abdomen more than the hand on your chest. 

These simple breathing  exercises can help you cope with emotional stress.  You have naturally developed your own set of defense mechanisms.  Its okay to fall back on them on occasion.  The next chapter will go into these specifically so that you can recognize them and avoid them.