Monday, December 21, 2009

Creative Health Tip December 21 2009

Today's tip is about breathing mindfully

Almost everyone gets stressed out during this busy holiday season. However, stress suppresses the immune system, so the last thing you want to be during the holidays is stressed because it leaves you vulnerable to illness.

There is one very simple thing you do all the time, and when done mindfully, can reduce stress. You can do it anywhere, anytime, for a couple minutes or even a half-hour. It's simple, easy, effective……have you guessed what it is?

Yes, it's breathing.

Breathing mindfully is one of the best and fastest ways to reduce stress whether you are caught in traffic or a long line at the checkout counter of the department store or have just arrived home at the end of a hectic day.

Breathing mindfully means paying attention to your breath, to follow the breath as you inhale and exhale. You need not intentionally breathe deeply though you may find that you are breathing more deeply as you practice, and that's good because it can help relieve muscular tension. Breathing shallowly deprives your muscles of much-needed oxygen and they become tense as a result. Just breathing slowly and deeply can relieve a lot of tension in your legs and back and shoulders.

To practice: as you inhale (through the nose only, please) follow the path the air takes, and feel the coolness in your throat as the air travels to your lungs. You may pause to enjoy the sensation if you like, but pausing isn't required. As you exhale, you will pay attention to the breath as it leaves your lungs and warms the throat, and here you may exhale through the mouth if you like.

To add an extra mind-body dimension of stress relief and relaxation, as you exhale, set the intention to relax simply by repeating "I am relaxed" as you practice, and may even be a little playful by emphasizing different words as you say it, first emphasizing "I" then "am" then "relaxed." If you are a visual person, you may also visualize the release of all your tensions, just watch them leave your body as thought they were riding the crest of a wave of breath, and say good-bye to each as they leave: "Good-bye, work stress, good-bye traffic jam," and so on.

The more fun you have with this practice, the more stress it will relieve and the faster you will feel better!

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