What is the foundation for living a good life? How much must we have and achieve? Or better yet: Who must we be?
Could it be more straightforward than we often think?
In today’s society (in the U.S. and other “first world” countries), many of us are under constant stress. Constant stress is devasting to our health. It causes many diseases, accelerated aging, and a shortened lifespan. Not to mention that continuous stress impairs the quality of our life on an ongoing basis.
You may have heard of the “fight or flight” mechanism we all have. It is an essential part of our biology and is controlled by our nervous system. Our nervous system has two parts:
- The sympathetic nervous system controls your stress response, which you need to fight off or escape dangers threatening you. It is the accelerator if you compare your body to a car.
- The parasympathetic response is akin to brakes in the car analogy. This response is vital for digesting food, healing, and sleep.
How can you be healthy if you constantly feel like you are in “fight or flight” mode as if a bear was about to attack you? It is like your car is revving at high RPM all the time.
What is the answer?
You can’t manage stress, but you can manage your focus, your response to stress.Dr. Livingood, author of “Livingood Daily“
In other words, things that can create stress happen. But our response to them is up to us. It reminds me of Jack Canfield’s E+R=O formula (Event plus response equals outcome) I recently wrote about.
Six Simple Things You Can Do to Change Your Focus
What are several simple things we can do to change your focus and strengthen your “brakes”?
- A walk (even a short one)
- Meditation (which is essentially focusing on something, most often your breath)
- Any form of exercise or physical activity
Wow. That IS simple. However, it is not always easy to remember what to do in the heat of the moment.
Gratitude Is A Powerful Shield Against Stress
A powerful way to set the tone for the day is to take a minute in the morning and be grateful for all you have.
For example, I’m grateful for my family and friends. I am thankful for our house and the little “treasures” meaningful to us. Writing about this makes me think of a crystal we have. My husband and I had our faces etched into it during our first trip together. The engraving says, “Adam and Stephie, Las Vegas 2004, Our First Trip Of Many.” Imagine how I feel just thinking about it. These memories could be like a force field again stressful situations that might show up later in the day.
That’s the point: Being grateful is like a powerful shield against stress.
Gratitude can also be as simple as looking out of the window and seeing the sun reflect beautifully in the leaves of the trees. It is good to be alive!
Deep Breathing – Just Two Minutes Make a Difference
What about breathing? “Long, deep breaths have been shown to regulate your parasympathetic nervous system and strengthen your brakes,” says Dr. Livinggood.
He describes paced and boxed breathing:
- Paced breathing: Take in a breath for five seconds. Take at least five seconds to let that breath back out. Do that for two minutes.
- Boxed breathing: Take a four-second deep breath in, hold it for two seconds, and take at least four seconds to let that breath out. Repeat this for two minutes.
- Which of these techniques will you apply in your life today?
- Headsup: Tomorrow, we will begin a new 7-day challenge. More on that tomorrow. 🙂
- Tip: As you wake up tomorrow morning, focus on being grateful for just 30-60 seconds. Appreciate that you are alive. That is a great start!
P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Treasure Tuesday with others. Thank you!