I have learned an amazing little trick. I am so excited to share it with you because I think it could make a big difference as you face every day challenges in your life. AND when you face more difficult trials as well!
Here is the trick
Every time I am in a situation that would cause me stress, I simply breathe. Taking a deep breath to the count of five, holding it a moment, and then releasing it slowly really does help our bodies put the brakes on to the whole downward spiral of stress. I do this a couple of times and then end it by listing off 5 things I am grateful for. If I am facing a very difficult situation, I will repeat this process as often as I feel necessary.
This really works?
I wish I could take credit for this, as it really DOES work, but Brance is the one who first introduced me to the benefits of deep breathing. I tacked the gratitude piece on the end. And let me tell you, together they are one remarkable duo! I’m not kidding, often within a couple of minutes, rarely longer than twenty, my mood will completely shift and I will feel calm and at peace.
How the duo works for me
Yesterday we had something very stressful go down and I felt all those icky stress hormones start to surge. In the past, a situation like this would have ruined my entire day, if not week. But within a matter of minutes, by practicing deep breathing and gratitude together, I was able to stop the tide of negative emotions and was actually able to turn them around. Instead of feeling anxiety, I felt peace. Instead of feeling bitterness, I felt acceptance. My day wasn’t ruined and I was able to enjoy beautiful moments that evening with the family God has blessed me with, instead of being consumed with stress (like I often was in years gone by!).
When we aren’t ruled by stress we are free to
- be healthy – According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can cause a whole host of physical issues including: headache, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, change in sex drive, stomach upset, sleep problems, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, irritability or anger, sadness or depression etc. You get the picture, stress is not good for our bodies.
- feel at peace – There is no peace to be found in the vortex of stress and the affixed negative spiraling emotions. BUT, when we are able to escape the vortex using deep breathing and gratitude etc., we can experience a calm even in the midst of the “storm”.
- make wise decisions – When we are controlled by stress, stress dictates the decisions we make. We can’t make good, rational decisions when our emotions are out of balance because we have been hit with a tsunami wave of anxiety, frustration, bitterness, anger, sadness. Ruling stress, instead of being ruled by it, clears our heads and hearts to respond in a healthy way.
- help others – One of the beautiful things that comes from being able to rule our emotions is that we are then available to help other people. And this really is one of the greatest things in life. Doing good for others, benefits them AND it benefits us as well. I dare you to give it a try! If our lives aren’t ruled by stress, we are available more often for others. My sister does an amazing job of this.