Stress -- we all feel it in our daily lives. We are constantly running from pillar to post each day in our jobs, at home with our kids, and even when we are running errands at the grocery store. No one has a moment to breathe freely, or so it seems!
Stress is the No. 1 killer in the United States. It kills indirectly, from causing one to have a heart attack to lowering the immune response of the body to pathogens and harmful microbes. Even when stress doesn't kill, it can result in psychological issues, such as clinical depression or panic attacks. Too much stress is not healthy, yet it is inevitable in day-to-day living. So what can we do about it?
I have developed a five-minute stress buster that I have used successfully with my patients. You can do it anywhere, and it can have long-lasting benefits for your health. And all it takes is five minutes of your precious time! This is adapted from a regular PMR (progressive muscular relaxation) exercise that is often used in psychotherapy for stress management. The regular PMR exercise is often much longer, and can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, or even longer to complete.
The first step is to breathe slowly, deeply and purposefully. We have never been taught to breathe properly, so most of us indulge in shallow breathing that does not supply enough oxygen to our brain and heart. So start out by deliberately changing that pattern. You will notice an almost immediate difference in your attitude.
Practice this deep breathing for about two minutes (about 50 deep breaths, depending on your rate of breathing). Next, clench your teeth as tightly as you can, hold for about half a minute, and slowly release the tension.
Continue the deep breathing, then make fists with both your hands and hold it like that for about half a minute again. Then gradually release the tension and continue breathing deeply again.
Next, hunch up your shoulders and hold it like that for the next 30 seconds, then release the tension gradually. Finally, take a deep breath in while extending your stomach out like a balloon. Hold for about half a minute and then slowly breathe out. If you have some time left, you can continue the deep breathing for the remainder of the time. It's that simple.
Most of the patients who I have taught this simple technique to describe better sleep, better decision making capability and other long-lasting health benefits. Try it out and be sure to tell me about the results. You can find me at www.drdeepanchatterjee.com, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
HuffPost's GPS for the Soul app is based on two truths about human beings. First: We all have a centered place of wisdom, harmony and balance within us. Second: We're all going to veer away from that place, again and again and again. What we need is a great course-correcting mechanism -- a GPS for the Soul -- to help us find our way back to that centered place, from which everything is possible.
Because no one knows better than you what helps you de-stress and tap into that place of peace inside yourself, it's important for you to create your very own GPS guide -- a personalized collection of whatever helps you course-correct. Email us at GPS@huffingtonpost.com and we'll set you up with your very own HuffPost blogger account to share your guide on the site. If you're already a blogger, we encourage you to upload your personal guide today. We can't wait to see what you have to share.