For many people, stress can be an everyday occurrence. Juggling the work- life balance, money commitments, career pressures, health concerns, deadlines, family and relationship issues, worry about the aftershocks, the list goes on.
We get stressed out, feel bogged down or angry. Thereafter, even little things cause us tension and worry.
Stress has a huge impact on our health. As a result of hormone and chemical release into the blood, the pulse and heart rates increase and we start perspiring.
Repeated exposure to stressful situations (chronic stress) can lead to irreversible physiological changes, resulting in diseased states like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, asthma, gastrointestinal ulcers, viral infections, migraine and non-specific headaches.
We lose our inner balance, feel week and lacking in energy, irritable and edgy. We may also experience negative emotions such as hate, anger, lack of self-worth, greed, resent and fear.
We cannot let go of the past, which is often accompanied by guilt and we constantly worry about the future. National statistics say that one in six New Zealanders experience serious depression at some time in their life.
The typical ways we deal with stress – drugs, alcohol, smoking, medication, eating (despite having their own health risks) are actually counterproductive.
They can worsen the stress and can make us more reactive (sensitive) to further stress.
So what’s the solution?
Take a deep breath, it is that simple! Beyond mere inhalation and exhalation to stay alive, proper breathing has proven to relieve physical discomfort, to de-stress, to relax the body, calm the mind and transform overpowering emotions.
Alternative health care practitioners will say that the breath can actually eliminate diseases and toxins, not only acting as prevention but also as a cure.
The Art of Living Foundation conducts workshops that help people eliminate physical and emotional impurities. I have conducted free workshops in Christchurch since the September 4 (2010) earthquake. More than 200 people have attended these workshops, achieving amazing results.
Breathing is the link between the mind, the body and activity.
People experiencing emotions such as anger or sadness, their breath pattern changes. When you use the breath, you are able to harness the mind and gain control of your emotions.
Peter Mittermuller is a Volunteer at the Art of Living New Zealand.