Cut off in traffic? Almost drop that hand-blown glass heirloom? Forgot about the exam? Canít figure out how to cover that check to the IRS?
Yeah, you know what stress feels like. Itís that quickening of the pulse, the instantaneous sweat, the jumps, the jitters, the sleeplessness of adult strains and stresses.
And it makes you fat. Seriously. Freaking out makes you fat. It turns out you gotta stay cool to stay cut, especially around your middle. Freaking out releases stress hormones that encourage your body to pack on pounds for fighting and flying. And those stress pounds pack on primarily around your middle.
No wonder itís people whose kids can drive and parents canít who are softest between the shoulders and the knees. Stress gets you if youíre smart, involved, busy, concerned, emotionally mobile, in love, out of love, and especially if youíre a parent. When people depend on you. When youíre undependable. When things go very, very well, and when they go badly. Good stress and bad stress and even medium stress. It all shows up in the center of you. On the other hand, if youíre really dumb and unaware, you probably donít have to worry too much.
So, if stress fat is your foe, and you know who you are, hereís one little trick: Breathe.
No kidding. Seriously. Breathe. Donít just count to 10 before blowing a gasket. Really learn some breathing exercises, and take some time every day or so to do them.
Who can teach you to breathe? There are good books on the subject, good tapes. DVDs, and nearby yoga instructors. I like the latter way the best, learning restorative breathing with the help of an instructor who can guide you into a good technique while you are in a relaxed state. Breathing audio tapes are my next favorite. The crush-worthy Andrew Weil offers a CD for that purpose. He has a yummy voice. If his cuteness isnít too distracting, it could work for you. Remember panting and regenerative breathing are not the same thing.
Why focus on it. The shallow breathing that accompanies stressful times can help sustain the stress, cutting back on your oxygen and your energy. Restorative breathing not only restores your oxygen supplies, but helps to massage your organs, increasing healthy circulation throughout your system. And of course, regenerative breathing is relaxing. Even if you return to your stressful world, taking a few minutes out of your busy day to reach a rested state always helps.
So try breathing. You might get hooked. I will if you will.