By Roxanne Donovan - Wellness
Stress is bad, folks. Like bad, bad.
"Okay," you're thinking, "I already know that." But do you really?
Are you aware that prolonged stress damages mind, body, and spirit? Sure does. I'm talking:
I could go on, but you get my point.
Stress, though, isn't an issue without stressors - i.e., the stuff in our lives we perceive as maxing out our resources. Unfortunately, there are lots of those around, according to a recent American Psychological Association survey (and anyone who's awake). The top five: future of our nation (63%); money (62%); work (61%); current political climate (57%); and violence and crime (51%).
Umm...yes, to all that.
For academics, add to the list deadlines, grading, finding time to write, demanding students, those demoralizing comments from reviewer two, and service overload.
That's the bad news. The good news: high stress and its negative consequences are NOT inevitable. There are tools - a.k.a. coping mechanisms - that when used correctly can reduce stress.
In fact, you have one of these stress-busting tools with you right now.
Yep, that thing your body does mostly outside of awareness to keep you alive can also provide much needed stress relief.
Consciously slowing and deepening your breath sends messages to the brain to relax which turns down the sympathetic nervous system's fight or flight response and turns up the parasympathetic nervous system's rest and digest response - exactly what's required to halt a stress spiral.
There are several deep breathing techniques to choose from. Whichever you try, stick with it. Regular practice equals better outcomes.
So let's all take a moment to inhale slowly for the count of five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)...hold...exhale slowly for the count of five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Now repeat for the next three minutes. Your body will thank you.
In peace and solidarity,