Effects of Stress
Many things can cause stress in our lives, some we can control and some we cannot, things such as pressures from work, money, family problems, moving, losing a loved one, and changing careers. According to webmd.com:
- 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- 75% to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
Stress can have detrimental effects on us physically and mentally. It can make us feel anxious, unmotivated, overwhelmed and/or depressed. Physically, we experience headaches, muscle tension, low energy and/or stomach pains. Even our behaviors change and we stop doing things we enjoy or do things we don’t normally such as comfort eating, withdrawal socially or have outbursts of anger.
Breathing Exercise 4-4-4
One easy way to manage stress is to perform a breathing exercise. Focusing on your breath can help take your mind off of what is causing stress and help your body to relax. There are many different breathing exercises that are effective. However, I like to keep things simple. The breathing technique I find beneficial for a beginner is the 4-4-4 method. Using diaphragmatic breathing, breathe in for a count of 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds and breathe out for 4 seconds. As you get comfortable with 4-4-4 method, you can adjust it to get the most benefit for you. For example, I like to breathe in for 6 seconds, hold for 8-10 seconds and breathe out for 7 seconds.
By placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen, you know you are diaphragmatic breathing when your abdomen expands along with your chest. This helps you to get a full breath in while keeping your shoulders and the rest of your body relaxed.