How to relieve stress on the spot using just your breath

Ever found yourself in a difficult or stressful situation that just gets your blood boiling or causes you to feel all frantic inside? Yes. We all have these moments. Whether it’s hearing bad news, dealing with traffic, being in a confrontation, or experiencing a full blown panic attack, the stress of life is inevitable – something I am always reminding myself and my patients. So if stress is inevitable, the only thing that can really determine whether or not you allow that stress to have a detrimental effect on your body and physiology is how you respond to it. After all, life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it, right?

Here is a quick and easy tip that you can implement at anytime, anywhere for any type of stress. Best of all, it’s free and all you need is your breath.

I like to call it 4×4 breathing because it’s easiest for me to remember. Here’s how it works:

Inhale for 4 counts
Hold for 4 counts
Exhale for 4 counts
Hold for 4 counts

Repeat 4 times and compare how you feel before and after. You can also compare objective measures such as your breathing and heart rates and you will likely notice that these will be lower after the exercise. Rhythmic breath is something that you can use to quickly and effectively switch your nervous response from sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (rest and digest). The latter is where the body can relax and heal.

Here’s a tip: if you can close your eyes and visualize your happy place while doing this exercise, it will help further deepen your relaxation.

So next time you find yourself stressed, anxious or nervous, try implementing this simple stress management technique and watch what it does to your body.

In health,

Dr. Shilo

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