How to Relieve Stress Without Exercise or Drugs

“‘Expansion and contraction of your lungs massages your heart as you breathe.  At the same time, your diaphragm pulls and pushes on your heart from below, assisting blood flow.  When our spine is extended by your use of food breathing mechanics, the fascial envelope around the heart stretches, contributing to the balance of pressures around this essential organ.  Healthy posture and breathing actually support your heart.  This gives added meaning to the term “lighthearted’.”

Do you breathe correctly?  Perhaps you do.  Most of us do not.  Many of us are aware that we do not breathe correctly but don’t know how to go about correcting the problem.  Poor breathing habits develop when we get into the habit of incorrectly using our posture and respiratory system, often in response to stress or trauma.


We still our bodies by not breathing at all or with shallow breathing which overrides our natural rhythm and ebb and flow of breath into and out of the body. “Emergency breathing can become an insidious habit that distorts posture and damages health.  Humans freeze their bodies in response to an emergency trigger.  We stop our breathing to achieve stillness so that we can hear and see more clearly and pointedly by stabilizing our eyes and ears for sharper perception and quick reaction.

By ‘playing dead’ we can render ourselves “invisible’.  We also hold our bodies still to restrain anger, block fear, or contain the energy of an overwhelming situation.  We hold still to keep our emotions from bubbling over and revealing our private thoughts and feelings.

When the horizontal stabilizers which surround the torso become overly constricted they can close your body around its’ core. They are structures that run perpendicularly around the torso’s central axis.  We hold our arms tightly to our sides limiting the chests capacity to expand.  Evidence of this can be heard in the voice which will sound higher and more shrill especially if the voice is raised.

Spiritual teachers from every tradition stress the importance of proper breathing and mastering ones breathing as a key to balanced living as well as to achieving higher states of consciousness.  One of the very first things one is taught when learning to meditate is to relax and breathe slowly, deeply until a natural rhythm is achieved.  This is because proper breathing affects every aspect of our bodies’ functioning, from our mental state to our digestive efficiency.

Breathing is central to our posture and to the way in which we move.  It has a huge influence on our appearance, health, emotions, outlook, physical and emotional resilience, and capacity to manage stress.

Take a moment to become aware of how you are breathing right now without trying to control it.  Cannot do it, can you?  Mary Bond says,” that trying to be aware of your breath without attempting to control it is like trying to touch your shadow”.  As you become aware of how you are breathing at this moment notice whether you breathe with your chest or belly- nose or mouth -shoulders hunched up and forward or resting low and back.  Just become aware without adjusting it.

Hmmm.  I wonder what you discovered.


Bond, Mary, New Rules of Posture:  How to Sit Stand and Move in the Modern world. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont   2007, pp. 72-90


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