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How do we reduce and manage stress?

March 23, 2017

One of my favorites ways to get patients to reduce and mediate their stress levels is to use a free “breath trainer” on their smart phone or computer. There are a lot of free apps to do this, and my favorite is MyCalmBeat. It works for both androids and iPhones. It’s as simple as a metronome with a breathing visual. You can set the number of breaths per minutes and the duration of the exercise. I like to set it at five breaths for 5 minutes and recommend that patients do it for 2 to 5 minutes twice a day.

Breathing

Then, when patients find themselves holding their breath during the day or breathing shallowly, they are far more likely to notice. At these times, I recommend that they do what I call three “rescue breaths.” Without even turning on the app, they can simply remember the tones and the timing, close their eyes and do three of these breaths at the same pacing that they’ve been practicing twice a day. It’s very effective because it’s not just working when they do the exercise, it increases awareness throughout the day of when life stresses are taking a hold of the nervous system and respiratory system and perpetuating a sympathetic stressor state.

This app is peripherally related to the “heart math”. I personally do not recommend going any deeper into heart math than to reap the benefits of regular, long slow breathing. In my personal opinion, the state of “coherence” that the heart math people talk about is simply a normal physiological response of the heart rate increasing when during inspiration, and decreasing during expiration.

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