How many times do you feel yourself struggling with stress or feeling worried? If you are like many Americans, you may feel like such feelings are normal and may have no idea how actually stressed you really are.


Stress and worry can feel absolutely miserable and painful. However, how we respond to, or deal with our stress and strain can lead to even more pain. Engaging in gimmicks and unhealthy measures to alleviate our stress and strain only breaks the body down leaving us more vulnerable to stress than before! That alcoholic drink to unwind and loosen up works in the moment, but breaks us down leaving us more sensitive the next day to strain. So what do we do? Drink more again! Doesn’t that sound strange?


Buddha once asked a student, “If you are struck by an arrow, does that hurt?” The student responded, “yes.” The Buddha then asked, “If you are struck by a second arrow, does that hurt more than the first?” The student then replied, “yes.” Buddha then explained that what happens to you (the circumstances) is the first arrow. The second arrow is your response to the first arrow!


The stress and strain of your day is nothing but the first arrow. Yes, you will feel some sort of uncomfortableness and pain from the circumstances, but you must resist responding to the day by striking yourself with a second arrow! Unhealthy coping may work in the short run to feel better, however such choices will leave you weakened and more susceptable to stress the next day!


There is a real simple answer to this problem. Have you ever taken a sigh of relief? You know that deep inhale and strong exhale that leaves you feeling RELIEF (which is why they call it a sigh of RELIEF). Yep, that is it! All you need to do is take a few sighs of relief and you will soon feel much better. Oh and you will not actually deplete yourself for the next day. Sometimes it may take a few of those sighs but, it is much better than any gimmick or unhealthy coping mechanism.


To do this, you need to inhale through the nose and fill up your lungs from the stomach up, not the chest down. While doing this inhale, you can visualize sucking up all that stress and strain, pulling it together and waiting to exhale it out of you. Then, exhale out the mouth and expel all that garbage and strain while relaxing your tense muscles. That’s it!


Many of you have already breathed a sigh of relief at some point, so using it when feeling stressed or even worried can be a simple, healthy response that leaves you feeling RELIEF! Plus, you are not striking yourself with a second arrow because you are not weakening yourself for the next day, rather you are strengthening and recovering for the next the day!


Now that you have been made aware of this, the choice is yours! When struck by that first arrow of circumstance, how are you going to respond?



Chris Swenson is a licensed therapist who helps people overcome and face life’s most treacherous challenges. His office is located in Sterling, CO. For an appointment please call Chris at (970) 522-0796.

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