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The first defense against unhealthy responses to stress is not to take a pill... but instead deep breathing. Caution, if you suffer from panic attacks or agoraphobia, this technique is not recommended until after the symptoms are treated. This is because breathing techniques require internal focusing which is not recommended for severe anxiety sufferers. For them, external relaxation techniques are recommended--see the resource box.
In response to stress, it is normal that our breathing is immediately affected. It becomes shallow and upper chest, which is actually part of the defense mechanism. Even a sigh is usually a tense upper chest unhealthy breadth.
We generally make three basic mistakes in breathing:
No matter what the physical health problem--headaches, neckaches, muscle pain... (all direct effects of stress), or disease such as cancer, heart disease... it's important to address breathing (except for severe anxiety sufferers as previously noted). Look for times during the day when you are feeling stressed, under pressure, in a rush, defensive, tense... It's during these times that instead of tensing as you normally would, that you instead remember to do your stress relief deep breathing.
And all you have to do to engage your first defense against stress is to consciously become aware of your breathing. Then shift from your upper chest tense breathing consciously to an abdominal breath.
How to take an abdominal breadth, the first defense against stress:
If you have the time, take a class in Yoga breathing to get in some serious breathing. Yoga will provide many healthful benefits.
When to do your deep breathing: make a list of times during the day when it would be appropriate to take advantage of the deep breathing stress management technique such as:
The problem is that no one makes any money from deep breathing. No drugs are required so you will not hear an announcement on the radio, "Remember to do your stress reduction deep breathing exercise!"