How many of you are convinced there is no end in sight to the stress and deadlines and traffic and all the other things strewn on the railroad tracks? Time to MAD about stress.

When you are stressed, your thought patterns are in your right frontal cortex. (This is why lobotomies were common as a cure for PTSD and anxiety.) The right side of your brain is creatively trying to escape the stressors and artistically avoid conflict. It fails to consult the analytic left side on how to get organized for breaking activities down into smaller pieces for a more effective attack.

When you are stressed, your whole body gets in on the game, not just your brain. Your heart rate jumps up, your blood vessels constrict raising your blood pressure, your blood stream infuses with adrenaline which suppresses feel-good brain chemicals, your breathing rate increases to accommodate the increased heartbeat and other bodily functions…all this makes you tired faster.


Oh, right. You are just going to quit stressing. Well, you can.

Want to trade all of the physical reactions above for even a handful of these?

  • Younger looking skin
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Less depression
  • Better sleep
  • Increased happiness
  • More peace
  • Improved memory
  • Steadier heartbeat
  • More creativity

Gather up all of your stress and squeeze it. Now, let’s try something different.

Move Away

First thing is to move that stress from your crowded right brain over to your filing system left brain where it will be broken into smaller pieces and put into compartments. How? Meditation or prayer. Go somewhere quiet(er) and be still.

By meditating, you are concentrating on one thing: Calm. The first step is to slow your breathing. When your breathing is down to six breaths per minute, your lungs and your heart are in the perfect biorhythm. You have just begun the path to better cardiovascular health.

File 13 is a great place for this.

While you were busy counting breaths, something fundamental happened. Your left brain filed away all those stressors under Worry about this some other time, like never. 

When you aligned your (now empty) brain with the cardiopulmonary rhythm, you set the stage for the right oxygen flow to your organs and your skin. The decreased blood pressure allows more blood to flow through the tiny blood vessels in your skin, making it more resilient (anti-aging). This oxygen-rich blood infusion is good for all of your organs which filter out toxins (anti-aging) like kidneys, liver and intestines (better digestion).

The vasodilation makes breathing easier and saturates your brain in oxygen, making it:

  • rest easier
  • think clearer
  • learn faster
  • retain more
  • send waves more coherently
  • stabilize moods better
  • decrease anxiety reactions
  • produce more feel good chemicals (happiness)

The longer you practice meditation, the greater your chances of shifting from being mired in stress to personal and spiritual growth. If you choose prayer, the greater the likelihood you will shift your stressors to your higher power.

Make a Difference

You do not need a book or a guru or a shaman to meditate or pray. You can do this all on your own.

1. Go to a quiet place.

This can be your bedroom. You can close the door to your office. Sit in your car. Go out into the backyard.

Turn off distractions like music, telephone, computer and television. Be quiet.

2. Be still.

Sit down. Lie down. Let your body be at rest and comfortable. No nervous twitching. No fidgeting. No looking around the room. Close your eyes to block out extra stimuli. Turn off the light if it helps reduce distractions.

3. Take deep breaths.

Slow your breath rate. Inhale to the count of four. Hold your breath to the count of seven. Exhale to the count of eight. Build up to the numbers until you are all the way there.

4. Meditate or pray.

Your mind is empty of everything except the number of your breaths. Let them autopilot and your mind reach out to the quiet. Let your mind go where it will, but stop shy of your stressors.

5. Record.

With a clear mind, journal what your insights are. Write your thoughts or draw what your mind’s eye created. Embrace your creativity.

6. Repeat.

Take time everyday to meditate or pray. It is just the medicine to heal a stressed mind and body.


You do make a difference. Give your brain and body the chance to be the most effective they can be by recharging what makes them work. When you are at your peak, you are making the most difference in your world, for yourself and everyone else.

With this list of benefits, you would be hard pressed to supply a reason not to meditate or pray.


Do you meditate or pray? Where do you escape the stressors? Will you Make A Difference in your own life by dropping the stress? Have you ever been surprised by what you created when your mind was at rest after meditation or prayer?

(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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  1. OK I tried your “When your breathing is down to six breaths per minute,” and now my stress is up from trying NOT to suffocate.
    Bearman recently posted..Editorial Cartoon: Chick-fil-A and Same Sex MarriageMy Profile

    • ROFL! You do need to build down to six. When I first tried it, I struggled to get past eight. Now I can get to four, but I have to concentrate to stay up to six. 😉

  2. When I breathe deep, my dizziness increases … But I do understand the concept and all that.

    I really hate when doctor’s tell you to eliminate stress to improve health conditions. Of course stress affects health, but would it not be better to teach patients how to deal with stress and sort through the one they can control?

    For example, if your stress is caused by factors beyond control (health issues, family members, job whatever) all you can do is control your reaction.

    Well, unless you leave all behind and live in the woods.

    So, they should just tell us what you did in the post, it would make way more sense.
    Alexandra Heep recently posted..You Might be a Facebook Addict if:My Profile

    • Alex, I rarely fill my lungs completely. As slowly as I breathe, I would be breathing about two to three breaths per minute if I did fill them all the way. Instead of trying to breathe deeply, try metered breaths which are comfortable. In-hold-out. And divorce some of the problems. You may be amazed what you can eradicate.

      • Haha, divorcing the major ones takes money, but I am pretty good at letting go what I can’t control.

        My biggest issue is the health, which can’t be fixed, not without health insurance anyway. At my appointment yesterday they said “we can’t do anything for you here.” Not the first time I’ve heard that.
        Alexandra Heep recently posted..You Might be a Facebook Addict if:My Profile

  3. Girl- I wrote the book on stress. Then I took a xanax, poured a glass of wine and burned that damn thing! (not that I’m condoning combining the three, just saying it was therapeutic for me)
    Lynn recently posted..Update on Baby PichaiMy Profile

  4. Laurie

     /  July 26, 2012

    Perfect timing, I’m going to go play in the mud.

  5. Some lovely reminders of how to back off from a stressful life. Thanks.

    • Welcome, Kate. Stop by the Green Room and leave a link to your blog. There are quite a few of the M3 Readers who would enjoy a peruse of your site!

  6. These are useful tips. As you say the individual experience can be crafted and there is no right or wrong way. The deadlines do seem nonstop but we will get through them..! 🙂 I like the notion of having clearer skin too!
    Christy Birmingham recently posted..Poem: Caffeinated ThinkingMy Profile

    • I rather like that myself. Anything to help release me from supporting Oil of Olay. 😉

  7. Can’t they just make a pill for that? I don’t have time to slow down!
    Binky recently posted..Sticks And StonesMy Profile

  8. Your post taught me things that my therapist was only able to touch on because I was so busy listing the stressors! For my meditation, I go out on the patio by the garden, even in winter and sit with a blank journal and do not write. I focus on nature around me because it has always brought me back to my spiritual and happy place. Thanks, Red, you gave me a gift today!
    Gail Thornton recently posted..Poem – PublishedMy Profile

    • You are very welcome. If you get a chance, click the link in the post. It will take you to different techniques especially designed for sleeping and avoiding day stressors by scheduling.

  9. Yes. — I am sorry, long answers stress me out. 🙂

  10. I meditate a lot Red but my way is a bit different..I play with my daughter,jump on puddles whenever it is possible,write silly fun stories with my daughter..great stress busters all of them and then we have these insane move dances..it is a must to create some ridiculous hand body movements duriing these dances..its a laughter riot..
    clears up the brain and somehow always makes things better.
    lately things have not been going well and we had a tuesday dance party just three of us..and i can tell you
    Soma Mukherjee recently posted..The Magnificent world of WombiesMy Profile

    • Fabulous! I am a firm believer in embracing the inner child. It beats being a grown up all the time. <3


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