Stress is no jokeSubmitted by Financial Planning Solutions, LLC on March 29th, 2018
Most of our blogs deal with topics related to finance. Since we really care about the overall well-being of our clients here at FPS, we sometimes veer off in a more health related direction. Hey, if you are financially secure that is great but if you are too stressed to enjoy life what good is that? This is one reason you will find our weekly newsletter unlike any other newsletter from most financial planning firms.
Stress is all around us.
It sometimes seems there is no hiding from it. You might have a crazy boss to deal with, traffic jams, deadlines and commitments, and then you go home and maybe the kids are going nuts.
I've talked to some that have told me they feel stressed as soon as they get out of bed. Just anticipating the day can cause stress for many.
We can blame our autonomic nervous system. It basically consists of two parts. The sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic part is what activates our "fight or flight" response. This causes our heart rate to increase, blood pressure to rise, our livers to release glucose, we begin to sweat, and can even give us goosebumps.
Conversely, our parasympathetic nervous system functions in the opposite. Slowing down our breathing and heart rate and other bodily functions.
Even though we don't live in a time where there is a saber tooth tiger lurking around a big rock, we have developed to be much more sensitive to these fight or flight responses even though there is no real danger.
What can we do about it?
We could quit our jobs, move to Bali, sit on the beach and meditate most of the day.
Or, we can learn to manage stress and anxiety better. One way I have found that works very well when in a stressful situation is to breathe.
However, you must breathe correctly. Breathing incorrectly can actually cause you to feel more stressed.
The simplest and most effective method I have found is something called the relaxing breath or the 4-7-8 breath. You basically, breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold for a count of seven, and blow out through your mouth for a count of eight. You repeat this four times, preferably twice a day (morning and night) and can also do it while feeling stressed during the day. I close my eyes when doing it in the morning and at night however, if I'm late to the airport and in traffic, I've done it with my eyes open. It only takes a couple of minutes and unlike medications and trips to Bali, it costs nothing and has no side effects. Okay, I'll admit it isn't as nice as the Bali trip but it is what it is.
I've been doing this breathing technique for years and learned it from a book I read by Dr. Andrew Weil. The short clip below shows him doing the technique so you can follow along. He goes a lot faster than I do but, when starting out, I suggest doing it like he is and then as you get better at it, slowing it down as I find it more relaxing the slower I go.
This technique has been shown, when done consistently over time, to reduce blood pressure and even reduce heart arrhythmias. One thing I want to mention that Dr. Weil does not is the importance of breathing from your diaphragm and not your chest. If you watch a baby sleeping, you will see their tummy rise and fall. Adults many times breathe through their chests. The best way to learn to breathe through your diaphragm is to lie on your back, put one hand on your stomach and focus on making it rise as you breathe in. Okay, now on to Dr. Weil.
Here is Dr. Weil doing the 4-7-8 relaxing breath. Click HERE
Questions? I'm here to help.
All the best.
Rick Fingerman, CFP®, CDFA®, CCFS®
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