Why “Manage” Stress? Master It with Conscious Breathing


Lois Grasso, CTBF

Anxiety, PTSD, peace of mind, brain, Dr. AmenAre you dealing with social anxiety, panic attacks, depression, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), chronic pain (aka fibromyalgia) or chronic illness, chronic fatigue? Maybe you’re trying to figure out how to manage the stress of parenting, weight loss, financial problems or difficult relationships? If so, you’re not alone and there is real, drug-free help available right here! Here’s the scoop.

According to Dean Ornish, M.D., author of the highly-respected bestseller, Reversing Heart Disease, “Deep breathing exercises are the most powerful and effective form of stress management”. This is no surprise, since stress is the number one reason people get sick and heart disease is the number one killer of Americans.

Likewise, pioneering psychiatrist and brain activity researcher, Dr. Daniel Amen says in his bestselling book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, that he teaches all his patients “deep, diaphragmatic breathing” as the first step in healing the brain. Hmmm.. so deep breathing is key for mental health, too!

So if our leading heart and brain doctors know healing is mostly a matter of plain old deep breathing, why are so many people so stressed out and taking drugs to deal with the consequences? It turns out that most people are not breathing properly. Taking a deeper breath in the wrong way, does not help. In fact, this can possibly make matters worse.

So let’s back up a moment. We all know that when we go without oxygen for even five minutes, we usually die. It’s pretty black and white. But there are also many shades of gray in between life and death. How well you are breathing also determines how well you are living, in more ways than one.

When your cells are bathed in abundant oxygen, you are free to relax and enjoy an abundant life. Chances are, however, your cells are starving. How do I know? Almost 80% of the population restricts their breathing! And it happens especially when they need oxygen most: under stress.

This is how anxiety and panic attacks happen, and it’s all because of a conditioned response to stress (recall Pavlov’s dogs? Bingo.). As children, we usually learn very early on to restrict our breathing because it’s the only way to “stop crying or get something to really cry about!”

Remember hearing that? Maybe you’ve even said it to your own kids? But you didn’t realize the long term damage it was doing – neither did your parents – so don’t beat yourself up. Because of the need children have to gain parents approval, they learn to breath shallowly – using tiny, weak chest muscles instead of the diaphragm – the 2nd most powerful muscle in the body.

Restricted breathing severely limits health and vitality, as it depletes your energy and brain power. This depletion in turn spirals into deeper levels of stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, and illness.

The good news is: this cycle of doom can be reversed. But not with drugs.

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