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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Smyth, LCSW

Just Breathe!

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Stressed??? Yes of course we are, no surprise there! Our routines, activities, and much of our choices have been stripped from us. Yes, we want to be safe, but it doesn't mean we have to like what is happening. Many of us are trying to manage professional responsibilities while attempting to support children who are isolated from their peers and trying to learn from home. Perhaps we are out of work and have a loss of income. The results are the same, stress.

What is worse at this point in the game a month into our new "normal" we are dealing with chronic stress. Chronic stress is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period of time in which an individual perceives they have little or no control. Our body is designed to release cortisol when we are stressed. While the short term effects of this stress hormones are beneficial, long-term exposure to stress creates a high level of these hormones. This may lead to high blood pressure, damage to muscle tissue, inhibition of growth, suppression of the immune system, and damage to mental health.

Regular physical exercise will lower your cortisol levels, 20-30 minutes most days a week will do the job. Don't have 20-30 minutes for whatever reason, get creative! Do 20-30 jumping jacks every time you go to the bathroom to get that blood pumping. I call them Bathroom Jax.

In moments of frustration or better yet, proactively, take a 2 min break and breathe. Try the mindfulness app (or try here for androids) to remind you throughout the day to breathe. Deep breathing helps to stimulate the vagus nerve The vagus nerve has a role in controlling mood, heart rate, digestion and immune response. Now, relax your shoulders, do a little stretch and follow the graphic...

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