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A Quick Way To Quiet Your Stress

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Stress can worsen the symptoms of psychiatric issues – including eating disorders, depression and anxiety.

To combat the damaging effects of stress, we need more than the distraction of TV or video games. We must activate our innate relaxation response. This response is a physical state of deep rest that alters our emotional and physical reactions to stress.

By triggering the relaxation response, our:

  1. Metabolism slows down.
  2. Breathing and heart rates are reduced.
  3. Muscle tension diminishes.
  4. Blood pressure is lowered.

One of the most effective ways to activate the relaxation response is breathing. Many simple breathing techniques can be practiced almost anywhere and some, such as the Quieting Response, can be done in a few seconds.

The Quick Quieting Response

This technique combines deep breathing with visualization to stop a sudden surge of stress and keep it from escalating – and it takes six seconds to do.

  1. The first step is to smile inwardly with your mouth and eyes while releasing any tension in the shoulders and neck.
  2. Now, imagine there are holes in the soles of your feet. As you inhale slowly, picture in your mind hot air flowing through the holes, moving up the legs, through the abdominal area and into your lungs.
  3. As you exhale, mentally see the hot air flowing down through your body and out of the holes in your soles.
  4. As you imagine the hot air moving in and out of your body, allow it to melt away the tension in your muscles.

Repeat this exercise throughout the day whenever you feel the tug of tension or simply want to feel more calm.

Source: American Institute of Stress
Photo credit: Dani_vr / flickr creative commons