Just Breathe

by Caroline Benitez

To be stressed is to be human, especially during these uncertain times. At some point, everyone experiences situations that cloud their head with worry and overwhelms their thoughts. While there are plenty of ways to describe this sort of feeling, it would be a mistake to think that stress is something that’s just in your head.

Stress is more than just a feeling- it’s your body’s way of preparing you for perceived threats. There are two kinds of stress, acute and chronic. Think of acute stress as your body’s alarm system for short term stressors. In such situations, the hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released, which raise your blood pressure and heart rate, and quickens your breathing. This response can be useful when you have the act quick- like, for example, when you must slam the breaks to avoid a fender bender. Stress lasting for periods of weeks or months is better described as chronic stress. Over time, this type of stress can take a toll on your body and can contribute to conditions such as hypertension and heart disease down the road.

The good news is that chronic stress doesn’t have remain a chronic issue. If you are experiencing this kind of stress, it can be helpful to first identify your stressors. Once you find tangible sources of your stress, you can create a plan to address them head on. Recruiting strong social support- be it through family, friends, counselors or coworkers- is essential. While we are currently under a Safer at Home order in Florida, there ways to remain connected with your social network using FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or a phone call.  Remember that no matter how insurmountable your problems feel, there are always people who want to help you get through them!

As for acute stress, there is no shortage of activities that you can use to cope in a healthy way. Go for a walk, put on your favorite music, or take time to work on a hobby. The important thing is to find something that you enjoy doing that allows you time to step back and refocus. Why not try mediation? Below is a deep breathing excessive you can try the next time you feel stressed.

INHALE deeply through your nose as if you were smelling a rose.

IMAGINE that your lungs are balloons slowly and steadily inflating in your chest.

EXHALE slowly through your mouth as if you were trying to blow out a candle.

REPEAT and remember to take things one breath at a time!

About LVIM

LVIM provides free, high-quality, out-patient medical, dental, and mental health care to the working uninsured of Polk County in a compassionate manner. Through 19 years of excellent leadership, LVIM has grown into a thriving and crucial organization for the Polk County community serving the health care needs of over 4,300 eligible patients each year and providing over $9 million in services in 2019 alone. At LVIM the treatment is free, the care is priceless!

To learn more about LVIM visit https://www.lvim.net/.