BREATHE. BALANCE. HEALING

SESSION 2: MIND with Deepak Chopra❤️
3 Quick Practices to Counteract the Stress Response

3 Quick Practices to Counteract the Stress Response
Stressed out?

You’re not alone. 80% of Americans  say they encounter stress in their daily lives.

While you cannot control the external stress that finds its way into your life, you can control how you manage your reaction to stress and learn ways to calm the overactive mind.

If left unmanaged, how can stress affect your life? On the surface, you can probably intuitively answer this question as feelings of having an overactive mind, worry, anxiety, and a general feeling of chaos in your life.

This is all true, but if you look below the surface, you will find that the unpleasant effects that stress has on your mind can affect the body, too.

Since the mind and the body are inextricably connected, stress is experienced at both levels.

So if you find yourself facing stressful circumstances, conversations, relationships, or moments in your life, keep reading to discover three ways to help you expand the power of your mind so that you can control stress in your life—and ensure it doesn’t end up controlling YOU!

Practice the Sigh of Relief
The exhale is tied to the relaxation response in the brain, and so learning to really take advantage of this simple act of exhaling—an activity you do all day long—can help you let go of stress and clear your mind.

Relaxation is necessary for the body to reverse the effects of stress and for your mind to refresh.

Think about it: when you are stressed or in fight-or-flight mode, you are typically breathing very rapidly, in a shallow way.

When you consciously slow down the breath, exaggerate your exhale, and practice sighing, you are simultaneously counteracting the stress response and activating the relaxation response.

That’s why it feels so good to sigh with relief!
Give it a Try:
Relax your shoulders and your jaw and close your eyes. Breathe in slowly through your nose and silently count to five, hold the breath at the top, then open your mouth and let out an audible exhale—smoothly and slowly—as you silently count to five. Repeat!

Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation Technique
Stress can cause your muscles to tense and tighten and your mind to get lost in a downhill spiral.

When you gather up all the tension in your muscles, hold it, and then consciously release it, you help to trigger the relaxation response that counteracts the stress response, and alleviates tension from the body and anxiety from the mind.

Give it a Try:
Before you begin, make sure you have at least five minutes and are in a place free of distractions.

Lie down so you are comfortable, and start to slow down your breath, in and out through your nose.

Then, start to bring attention to one area of your body at a time, as you tense all the muscles in that part of your body—holding it as tight as you are able for at least a few seconds—and then release, feeling that part of your body relax and release. Try this progression:
• Feet
• Legs
• Pelvis
• Stomach
• Chest
• Arms, shoulders, and hands
• Neck
• Face
When you are through with the progression, tense all the muscles in your body as tight as you can—making fists with your hands and feet, tightening the stomach, legs, arms, and squeezing the eyes shut.

As you tense the body, take a big inhale through your nose, holding the breath and all of the tension in your body, and then releasing with a big sigh of relief when you are finished.

You can repeat the sequence as many times as you would like, anytime you feel stress begin to rise.

Give Someone a Good Hug
When you hug someone—really hug then with both arms and hold it for a moment like you
mean it—you release oxytocin, which can counteract the harmful effects of the stress response.

Oxytocin helps your blood vessels stay relaxed, strengthens your heart, and helps your mind become more resilient in the face of stress.

The simple act of offering someone social support, such as a hug, can physiologically give you the hormones you need to calm the mind and pull you back into the present moment.
Give it a Try:
Find a friend, partner, family member, co-worker, neighbor, or pet, and give them a great big bear hug like you really mean it—with a smile, both arms, and with a good intention for their well-being. Breathe slowly together for a moment, and notice the person’s heart beat, breathing pattern, and that they, too, have stress in their lives—just like you. You are not alone.

The Bottom Line
Try these simple stress-releasing strategies when your mind feels burdened with worry, anxiety and overwhelm, and find out what works best for you!

Developing the awareness to notice when you have slipped off balance, and then knowing how to regain your center, is a skill you need to continue on your path to staying present, healthy, balanced, and whole.
Balance. Heal. Transform. © Copyright 2019 The Chopra Center