Experiencing Stress? We have the perfect interview today. Meet yoga instructor, professor, and stress management specialist, Holly Konrady. She works at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation on the Dr. Dean Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Team where the concentration is on exercise, plant-based nutrition, stress management and group support to help patients heal and potentially reverse heart disease.
Intentional breathing is an important part of everyday life and a key to reducing stress and anxiety. Our breathing is a bridge between the mind and body and the two are inseparable. Conscious slow deeper breaths help reduce muscular tension as well as anxiety and stress in the mind.
There are two branches of the autonomic nervous system to discuss: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic is also known as fight or flight (or freeze). Our bodies were not built to manage long term stress (chronic) only short term- whether positive or negative. Parasympathetic is our rest and digest/restore system.
The best tool we have to help regulate this is our breathing. During stress, breathing will be shallow. Pause during those moments and take deeper slower breaths; in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth. Focus on the breath coming in being cooler than the breath coming out to focus the mind away from stressful thoughts and into the present moment. Or try counting how long it takes to fully inhale and then make your exhale one count longer. This is also a focal point for changing where your attention is and purposefully drawing your awareness to something else.
You are capable of changing your state of being just by breathing slower and deeper and paying attention to it.
Chronic stress can keep us from healing and cause chronic disease, as during the stress response digestion and immune function shut down. Stress comes from events in life that cause us to feel overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, but we also have the ability to change where our focus lies.
Four elements for preventing heart disease and other chronic diseases are exercise, plant-based nutrition, stress management and connection to others.
Watch the interview to learn more!