Stress is a royal pain, right? For those of us with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel, Crohn’s Disease, lupus, etc. stress is more than just a pain. It’s a direct link to pain. Just sit back and take a deep breath. I’ll share with you below a Stress Reset for this very persistent problem.
Because stress is such a big subject, today I’ll explore just one aspect of its many facets. Let’s look at the self-induced kind (a great topic requested by my dear Facebook friend, Kim P.).
Have you ever known a person who seems completely unruffled by life? I used to work with a guy named Robin. He was as low-key as they come. He had a high-pressure job of scheduling work crews and making sure the jobs were done correctly. He was the hub between several different departments and if you wanted a “buck stops here” guy, he was it. When his warehouse supervisor shouted commands, Robin shrugged his shoulders and said, “OK, I’ll change that, or okay, but that can’t be changed for this reason…”
The point is that Robin was okay either way.
What do you do, when your well-planned day goes sideways? Say, you’ve got a 10:00 appointment, you’re already running late, and now you can’t find your keys (that’s never happened to me, of course). Do you call and cancel the appointment? Call everyone you have on speed dial to blame them for your plight? After running around in a frenzy wild enough to scare the dog, do you find the keys and drive off like there’s a checkered flag fluttering before your windshield? It’s likely that any of these scenarios can stir up the intestinal tornado and require at least a day’s recovery from the inevitable fibro flare.
In fact, you could stir up the digestive troubles (and increased pulse/heart rate, etc.) simply by reading the above. The brain tells the body how to feel. That’s usually a good thing, but when the brain communications get a bit wonky, we’ve got to compensate. We’ve got to Robin-ize our thoughts.
What comes naturally to Robin is something that can be learned by the rest of us. We might interpret even minor stress as a major event. It depends on how we think of it. When we learn and experience true relaxation (yes, it’s a learned thing!), then we can develop a goal — something to reach for.
Remember how it felt at the beach or on that picnic when (for at least 10 seconds) you didn’t have something to do? Think about how your body felt; your relaxed muscles, lowered heart rate, calmed thoughts, etc.
As a learned process,
you can re-create that feeling.
Getting to a state of “calm” usually begins with a deep breath.
As a whole, chronically ill people are quite shallow — breathers, that is. People in pain often take short, inadequate breaths attempting to minimize pain. It’s a vicious cycle since shallow breathing actually hurts us in the long run.
Taking a deep breath, filling the lungs and letting it out slowly, does more than just oxygenate the body. The time it takes to breath deeply is a stopping point for stress. It helps you put on the brakes. It’s a built-in stress reducer.1
Sort of like a welcomed period in a paragraph of run-on sentences, a deep breath gives you an opportunity to stop and evaluate. It gives you the opportunity to clear your thoughts and make better decisions. You might even take a step back and decide to approach the problem in a better way.
The next time you find your mind going from 0 to 60 on some tangent, STOP. Take a deep breath. Ask yourself this question: “Is it true?” (Read Byron Katie’s, Loving What Is if you haven’t already.) Oftentimes, our minds race to false conclusions. We may return home after a frazzled trip of dropping off kids at school only to find a needed field trip permission slip on the kitchen table. The mind begins to compound our faults and before we know it, we’re thinking, “I can’t do anything right, I’m the worst mother in the world.”
If you take a deep breath and ask, “Is this true?” You may be able to get to the heart of the matter. Perhaps setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day could help with the morning frazzles. Or, planning ahead and setting out clothes and breakfast items could help alleviate morning stress. Either way, recognizing that you’re a fallible human is quite different from the notion that you’re a bad parent. They’re worlds apart.
That little breath can be your link from one world to the other. That stopping point, re-grouping point, re-directing point may be just what you need to make better decisions and stop the negative thinking that causes undue stress. That little breath helps you to Robin-ize the situation.
Make a point of it this week. When the mind wants to launch into overdrive, make a conscious decision to stop, then take a deep breath. That’s it. Start anew and move forward.
Think of that cleansing breath
as your own personal re-set button.
Go ahead now, breathe….
Has deep breathing worked for you? Share below!