Today's guest blogger is Frances Zappalla, DO, a pediatric cardiologist at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Stress is common in our daily life. We now know about the link between stress and disease because of the mind-body connection. This time of year may be particularly stressful for students with finals just around the corner. There are many ways to help ease day-to-day stress.
One way is simply to breathe. Breathing is the part of our autonomic (or automatic) nervous system that we have control over. When we make ourselves breathe slower, deeper, and more regularly, we stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms our bodies and minds. The more you practice your breathing, the stronger that part of your nervous system gets - so when you’re in a stressful situation you can use slow, deep breathing to calm yourself down.
Take your breathing further and try meditation. Meditation has been found to be beneficial in relieving pain and stress. It helps to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and boost concentration, even in children with attention deficient disorder. Find a quiet spot where no one will disturb you. Shut off the phone. Sit quietly and close your eyes. You do not need to sit in the lotus position to meditate; you can sit in a chair with your hands on your lap. Now pay attention to your breathing. When thoughts or sounds come, notice them, but do not respond, just let them go. Aim for 10 minutes to start. Try to work up to 20 minutes twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening and see what happens. You may find that you can “trigger” relaxation and reduce anxiety with the use of breathing techniques.