Chicago Health | Homepage
Want to Reduce Stress? Here’s How

Want to Reduce Stress? Here’s How

Patricia Normand, MD, a psychiatrist at Rush University Medical Center and director of its Mindful Life Program, says that in order to reduce stress, she teaches students to focus on the sensation of their breath. When people know what it feels like to quickly shift focus away from what is causing them stress and onto a physical sensation, it brings them into the present moment. There, they can choose how to respond to stress rather than giving into it with a knee-jerk reaction.

Normand says that you don’t have to do it with your eyes closed; you can be in the middle of a business meeting, in the middle of a dinner; anywhere when the situation arises that’s feeling stressful to you.

Then, she encourages patients to recognize how stress in their body feels. Is there tightness in the stomach, the shoulders, the jaw? “If they’re in a situation where they’re recognizing stress, then they can make the choice to pause briefly and put attention on their breath. They can do this for one breath, two breaths, 10 breaths,” she says.

The reason it works is quite simple. The brain can only focus on one thing at a time. If you’re focusing on your breath, you’re not focusing on anything else. That stops the biological cycle of stress.

While people often assume that meditation requires a dark, quiet room and privacy, Normand says that it can be as simple as focusing on breathing. “That gives them a little space,” she says. “It interrupts the stress cascade and gives the brain a moment to stop sending signals to the adrenals to quit pouring out those stress chemicals. Because now the brain is busy doing something else.”—KS

Originally published in the Winter/Spring 2015 print edition

Similar Articles

Restrictive diet usually not necessary to control symptoms of GERD

Restrictive diet usually not necessary to control symptoms of GERD

Mayo Clinic Q&A DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I'm 62 years old and am having difficulty keeping healthy

Plan ahead to cover retiree health care costs

Plan ahead to cover retiree health care costs

By Susan B. Garland, Kiplinger's Retirement Report When you draw up a retirement-spending budget, you're likely

Carbonated beverages not a health hazard, but don’t overdo caffeine

Carbonated beverages not a health hazard, but don’t overdo caffeine

By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: Do all carbonated beverages rob the bones of calcium? How about

Breast Cancer Statistics

Breast Cancer Statistics

Letter from the Publisher

Letter from the Publisher

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

April 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
March 26, 2017 March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017
April 2, 2017 April 3, 2017 April 4, 2017 April 5, 2017 April 6, 2017 April 7, 2017 April 8, 2017
April 9, 2017 April 10, 2017 April 11, 2017 April 12, 2017 April 13, 2017 April 14, 2017 April 15, 2017
April 16, 2017 April 17, 2017 April 18, 2017 April 19, 2017 April 20, 2017 April 21, 2017 April 22, 2017
April 23, 2017 April 24, 2017 April 25, 2017 April 26, 2017 April 27, 2017 April 28, 2017 April 29, 2017
April 30, 2017 May 1, 2017 May 2, 2017 May 3, 2017 May 4, 2017 May 5, 2017 May 6, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives