Stress has been called “the silent killer,” because it’s linked to chest pain and heart disease, but its other symptoms are unfortunately all too visible—weight gain, depression, and exhaustion, to name a few.
The feeling of being overwhelmed is common to many of us, according to Susan B. Lord, MD, an integrative family physician who teaches the Healthy Living program Transforming Stress at Kripalu.
Stress tends to affect people in different ways, but everyone feels it. Some people have trouble sleeping at night; others are plagued by high levels of anxiety during the day. But what if you could change all that?
According to Susan, the first step is to ask yourself: What impact is stress having on my life? Being able to name the problem is half the battle.
Susan explains, “We are overwhelmed by work, family, balance, relationships—and until we identify and deal with these issues of stress in our lives, it is very hard to make intelligent, healthy choices when it comes to lifestyle.”
She recommends transforming stress by practicing simple awareness and mindfulness techniques that target your mind and your body. A regular practice of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can help identify stressful thoughts and situations as they occur, bringing our lives back into balance.
These tools also help develop resilience, so that, when we experience difficult times such as a death in the family, illness, or a fight with a friend, we know how to handle the associated stress. That might mean taking a deep breath after an argument, or going for a walk after receiving bad news. Or it might mean establishing a place to retreat to in hard times: nature, a meditation cushion, or your yoga mat.
Here, Susan describes a breathing practice for transforming stress.