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Mind Your Stress for Better Health – Just Breathe!

I cannot recall the last time I had a physical ailment, not even a cold or the flu. I do not get headaches and I have rarely had bodily aches that resulted in any prolonged illness. I do experience stress of some form every day but I believe in the ability of your mind to overcome limitations including physical limitations and as a result, good health follows.

One of the most stressful experiences I have had occurred during the time I had to care for a seriously ill child over an extended period. The stress was due to lots of anxiety, worry and fear about the health of the child and the neglect of my own physical and mental state. It was during this period that I learned the value of practicing yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises.

The practice of these processes made me more aware of my environment, my physical body and how it felt when I was under stress.  In fact, my meditation and yoga practices have heightened my self-awareness and have caused me to pay attention to how I am feeling…in the moment… which allows me to shift my attention to thoughts that cause me to feel better.

Over time, I have built up a truly robust and healthy immune system and mental resiliency so that when a potentially stressful situation arises, I am able to consciously choose how I want to respond.  This proactive approach to managing my feelings in any given situation has entirely changed my “relationship” and experience with stress.

I recently had the chance to put my “practice” for handling stress to the test.  I was out shopping for a new rug in a busy store. I asked the sales person if he would take the rug down from its rack so that I could purchase it.  The rug was very large and heavy. He agreed to assist me and proceeded to secure a special tool to release the rug from the rack. However, with the tool in hand, and before returning to assist me, he stopped to help another customer instead of me.  After all, I was the next one in line to be helped.  So, why did the sales person overlook me?

In the past, I would have quickly gotten angry and would have felt like I was being deliberately treated unfairly when I had to wait until another person was served before I was served.  This type of treatment had occurred countless times in the recent past.  I started to feel annoyed (another form of stress), but instead of letting my annoyance change into anger, thus causing even more stress, I took a deep breath and decided to just wait until he finished with that customer.  Then, I redirect his attention back to assist me, as there were now several other customers also waiting for his assistance.

You see, the situation did not change.  I still felt some stress (annoyance) in the moment. So what changed?  The answer is the way I reacted to the feeling being annoyed.  Here is exactly what I did: I first, acknowledged my feeling of annoyance.   It is important to acknowledge your emotions and not suppress them.  They are provided to help you, and guide your behavior.  Next, I shifted my attention to just taking a few deep breaths while I waited for the attendant to finish with helping the other customer.  Finally, I started thinking about how beautiful the rug would look in my home and got excited about taking it home.  The time whisked by in a flash! When the sales person finished helping that customer, he bypassed the other customers and came immediately over to assist me, wearing a big smile on his face as he greeted me. That made me feel even happier, a kind of reward for waiting for him to assist me instead of vocalizing any complaints for being overlooked!

When I changed the way I thought about having to wait for assistance, the delay did not fuel the negative stress levels in my body- – – no cortisol overload occurred to cloud my thinking.  I remained level headed, clear and relaxed.  In fact, I felt pretty good!  I even gave the attendant a tip for loading the heavy rug into my shopping cart.  That probably made him feel good too!

Make it a practice of recognizing when and where you feel stress.  Acknowledge the emotion in the moment. Then, Just Breathe!  Just Breathe! Breathe again!  Over time and with practice, you will feel a sense of peace, and a sense of ease and flow wash over you! This is your body thanking you for allowing it the opportunity to bounce back into its natural state of wellbeing.

Stay healthy in Mind & Body!   Remember, Life is supposed to Feel Good!

Abundantly yours, Coach Viv,
Vivian C. Hardison, BS, CPC, MA / vivian@vivianhardison.com / www.vivianhardison.com