When the audience at CVEP’s recent small business gathering were asked, “how many of you can identify stress?” only 5% raised their hand. It quickly became apparent that the first step in managing stress is being able to identify it.
“Our cars tell us when the gas is low, but people aren’t born with dashboards,” says Chris Flores, MD, “So if we can learn the science behind stress and its effect on our body, and can learn to monitor the signs, then we can begin to do something about it.” And everyone’s perception of stress is unique, adds Ann Marie Palma of Bikram Yoga Palm Desert. What one person considers stressful, another may not, so responses to dealing with stress need to be individualized.
“Many people feel that physical ailments such as a migraine or irritable bowel syndrome must be medical,” adds Flores, “when in fact, they may simply be signs of stress.” We live in a society where people seek an external cure first – treatment or pill – so the fundamental mindset has to change.
How do we recognize stress in our body? Flores says know your vitals. Buy a blood pressure cuff and monitor your heart rate. The average resting heart rate is around 70 and higher numbers are a sign of stress. Monitor how you feel. Are you getting 6 – 8 hours of restful sleep a night? Are you fatigued throughout the day? Do you crave sugar, carbs or alcohol? These are all indicators that your body is not in balance and may be under stress.
How do we relieve stress? The panel agreed that you need to create a healthy daily protocol, and make it a priority in your life. Something you enjoy like exercise, yoga, or meditation to calm the mind and create that mind-body connection. “Being able to achieve a balance – physically, mentally and emotionally – is key,” states Sonja Fung, ND.
And all agree that you need to learn to breathe. Most people take very short shallow breaths all day long. “Deep breaths activate your parasympathetic system,” adds Fung, “creating a feeling of safety and relaxation naturally.” Flores notes that people tend to breathe an average of 20 times a minute, when that rate should be only 8-10 times. And consciously breathing 4 times a minute is very therapeutic “and can even lower your blood pressure by 20 points.”
So let’s try it. Empty out your breath. Now breathe in deeply for the count of 5. Then hold that breathe for 5. Then slowly release the breath completely for 5. That is one 15 second breath. Do this 4 times and feel the difference in your body just after this one minute conscious breathing exercise.
Learn to identify your individual symptoms of stress. Establish a daily protocol to help you release it and to create and maintain balance in your body. And don’t forget to breathe….Really breathe.
CVEP’s Small Business Development Center offers free classes at their monthly Fireside Chats. For more information, visit www.cvsmallbusiness.com or contact Managing Director Ezekiel Bonillas [email protected] 760-340-1575