Stressed Anyone?


Stressed anyone? It doesn’t matter if it’s the weather, holidays, or just the same old daily tensions (which include trying to eat healthier), you know that stress takes its toll on your well-being and makes aches and pains feel even worse. And who has time for a meditation practice or yoga class when they are under extreme stress?

Sadly, that’s when relief is needed the most, yet life-changing health habits are practiced the least. If you would like a vacation form your problems, relief from your physical and mental aches and pains, there are some simple things you can do wherever you are, no equipment or membership needed. All that’s needed is the willingness.

It's important to realize that your brain amplifies pain as a consequence of living in stress, anxiety, and fear. It’s not “all in your head” pain, but “aggravated by your head” pain. Like back pain, IBS or gastrointestinal issues, or an ulcer, there is a real physical problem — that is exacerbated by our emotional state. 

Sometimes, your brain’s interpretation of a situation becomes a major part of the issue. Like picking at a scab, the brain can become excessively focused on a pain problem and the next thing you know your body is still overreacting to a stress that happened years ago. This is often the case with chronic illness and injuries that won’t go away, no matter what you do, including excessive medical intervention which can become part of your stress response if you aren’t careful.

Not to worry. There is more hope than you might think! Proverbs 14:30 states: “A peaceful heart and a tranquil mind lead to a healthy body.” Say goodbye to aches and pains and chronic conditions that are keeping you from living the life you're meant to live!

The most important thing you can do is breathe! Breathe out — exhale to be exact. Most of us literally hold our breath when we are under stress. Think of it this way... exhale and let the stress come out with it.

Why is breathing so important when stressed? Breathing provides immediate stress relief as well as a host of other benefits as well as deep, lasting physiological advantages.

The National Institute of Mental Health confirms that deep breathing shifts the body out of sympathetic nervous system control (anxious) and into parasympathetic mode, a healthier, calmer state in terms of general well-being and biochemical balance. This curbing of stress hormones (like cortisol) in turn, preserves the body’s immune function and keeps blood pressure and heart rate in check while helping to alleviate aches and pains.

Deep breathing for relaxation (not hard, heart-pumping exercise) can also influence gene expression that’s related to just about every disease, including the most popular inflammation (source of our pains), oxidative stress, and cellular metabolism. The more frequently and longer you practice deep breathing and stretching, the more pronounced the benefits for any particular condition as well as gene activity. Simply put, you get relief!

It’s all about increasing your oxygen intake and inducing the body’s relaxation response. Breathing helps clear your body of toxic byproducts that make your body ache, gain weight, and store belly fat, making your entire body feel sick and tired.

Combine breathing/breath work with stretching exercises as an active form of meditation. Sometimes when we try to meditate under stress, it allows us to hyper-focus on problems, and that’s unhelpful. It actually makes things worse, so stretch instead. It helps open up tight muscles, relieving aches and pains on the spot. Just about any ailment you’re dealing with can be alleviated by breathing and stretching... and a little Faith!

This combo also improves lung function by “stretching” airway tissue and inducing the release of a protective chemical known to maintain airway integrity.

Here's an instant pain-relieving, stress-reducing plan (I suggest using a Stretch Strap so you can relax more. It's more comfortable, and you can go deeper into the stretch):

  1. Simply lie down on a mat or floor, get comfortable in any position, and put your hands on your chest and stomach.
  2. To maximize oxygen intake, it’s important to learn to breathe from your abdomen (“belly breathing”) rather than your chest. Focus on your breath until you feel your stomach rise and fall more dramatically than your chest with each inhalation and exhalation.
  3. Breathe right — For a calming breath. Breathe in through your nose, hold the breath for a few seconds, and then exhale through your mouth. The time it takes to exhale should be about twice what it is to inhale. (Many suggest a 4:7:8 patterns – 4 to inhale, 7 to hold, and 8 to exhale.) Let go of other thoughts while you breathe and to help you do that it’s a good idea to stretch your tight legs that cause aches pains and almost all bad backs. If you hold your breath, you stop the process. Your breath controls your success!
  4. Do 2-3 breath, stretch cycles, 1-3 times every day (1st before you get out of bed, 2nd mid-day, and the 3rd before bedtime). If you’re under extreme stress, you may need to do 4-6 times daily for relief.

If you don’t already practice daily stretching and deep breathing, it’s one of the most effective, easiest yet straightforward, undemanding goals you can set for yourself. It’s a doable, painless way to keep your body in working order. There’s no better way to alleviate stress, aches and pains, and boost healing. It's the best deal out there!

For aches and pains, I suggest the following:

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