How to Master Stress and Profit from It.
Posted on October 06, 2009 by Pierre Milot, One of Thousands of Life Coaches on Noomii.
A short article defining stress and its dangers, plus a description of an efficient breathing exercise.
How to Master Stress and Profit from it
Defining stress in general and its dangers
According to Hans Selye, the dean of stress, ‘’ Stress is the body’s non-specific response to any demand placed upon it, be it pleasant or not’’. Under stress, the body is placed on alert and reacts in three stages:
The alarm – in this phase, an enormous and sudden stress can go as far as causing death. But most often, the counter-shock phase activates the ‘’Flight or Fight’’ mechanism in response to a continuous stress.
The resistance – in this second phase, the psychological and physiological defenses take over and eliminate the need that the body had until now to mobilize the general activity of the nervous and glandular systems. In this stage, the defense system wins the battle or, if the stress is too intense and continuous and that the defenses are inadequate, it is the exhaustion phase that installs itself.
The exhaustion – in this phase, the endocrinal and nervous systems are once more solicited and the physical counter-shock symptoms start to reappear. At this level, the body’s resistance capability diminishes constantly and, if nothing is done to change this situation, disease starts to appear.
To fight or to flight
When we are afraid or feel sufficiently threatened, the ‘’Flight or Fight’’ reaction is triggered. The subconscious mind does not differentiate between a real physical or imaginary situation and reacts as strongly to either one of them, thus, activating a host of physiological reactions in an effort to respond to the demands of the ‘’Fight or Flight’’ state: more energy and oxygen to the muscles to prepare for action. To accomplish this, the body, while increasing the activity of the heart and lungs, will send a powerful rush of adrenaline throughout the body.
Now, let’s imagine a real life situation. As you walk along leisurely, a large dog suddenly appears and menaces you. Instantaneously, the systems trigger an alert while you rapidly evaluate the situation: should I stay and fight or should I run? Eventually, whatever you decide, the situation will resolve itself and the systems will return to normal. But as far as stress is concerned, the problem is that, in imaginary or emotional stress situations, the subconscious mind does not try to determine if the moment is real or not and will still trigger the ‘’Fight or Flight’’ reactions. Since of course alleviating emotional stress is mostly a long-term commitment, the ‘’Fight or Flight’’ mechanism is maintained until the problem is resolved. Thus overtaxed, the body will in the long-term rapidly exhaust itself.
Let us now go over our first breathing exercise.
Without crossing your legs, sit down comfortably on a chair, back straight, let your hands rest on your thighs, close your eyes and focus on the air that is coming in and out of your lungs. Now, slowly breathe in towards the top of your nose (as if smelling a flower) to the count of three and hold the air in your lungs for another count of three. Once this is done, exhale slowly while counting up to three again, then continue to force out the air left in your lungs by contracting your stomach muscles to crush your diaphragm. Start once more from the beginning. At first, begin with 3 to 5 minute sessions and increase the length gradually to reach 15 to 20 minute sessions at a time.
By: Pierre Milot, Ph.D.
Tel : 613.528.1725
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org