Relax more, age slower
As a bodyworker, I often encourage my clients to breathe deeply into their bodies, and to visualize their breath going directly to the tense areas they may be feeling. This “mini-meditation” is a great way to help reverse the effects of holding stress in our bodies.
The stress response is a very important evolutionary process that evolved as our alarm to danger. This fight-or-flight response creates a cascade of hormones that affects brain function, digestion, heart function, muscle tone, and more. The opposite of that reaction is the relaxation response, which calms the stress response and releases feel-good hormones. The stress response was very beneficial in warning us against immediate danger, like a saber-toothed tiger, but our modern-day stresses are not as dynamic. It’s not a saber-toothed tiger threatening our lives; it’s the economy, the Internal Revenue Service, job insecurities, family pressures, our boss, and other daily stresses that never seem to subside.
When we don’t get a break from our reaction to that stress, it starts to manifest as a problem in the body. Studies have shown that increasing the relaxation response not only slows heart rate, decreases blood pressure, and lowers cholesterol, it also slows the genetic expression of aging. That’s right – relax more, age slower.
For more tips on how to breathe into the relaxation response, check out this issue of BodySense Magazine.
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