At times our life get stressful, but probably not as stressful as the life of a Navy Seal during special ops.

Yes, we all have to occasionally dodge a figurative bullet or two, but Navy Seals face the possibility of confronting the real thing. Stress sets in motion a cacophony of hormones that can undermine mental focus and the ability to intelligently respond to crisis.This is something a Seal cannot afford. Neither can you.

Stress creates a cellular mess for all of us.  It messes with the brain cells and the ability to learn and think clearly. It messes with the heart, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.  It messes with  the immune systems causing it to release compounds that can damage healthy cells. It even messes with our skin,  reducing  blood flow which accellerates the aging process. Weight gain, relationship issues and addiction are all associated with chronic stress.

One way you can help clean up the stress mess? –  Breathe like a Navy Seal.  When you breath deeply, oxygen pours into every cell of the body improving mental concentration and physical stamina.  The infusion of oxygen helps your body absorb vitamins and nutrients more efficiently. It  creates more white blood cells to help with healing. Your muscle relax. You Blood pressure lowers. Endorphins – the feel good hormones – are released.

So why not take a deep breath? A simple way to prove if it works –try it.  It costs you nothing, but a little time.

Here is the Seals technique for controlling stress with breath. It’s called 4×4 or box breathing.

Step 1: Find a comfortable chair or place to lie down.
Step 2: Inhale for 4 seconds
Step 3: Hold air in your lungs for 4 seconds
Step 4: Exhale for 4 seconds, emptying all of the air in your lungs
Step 5: Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds.
Step 6: Repeat for five minutes, or as long as  necessary to feel refocused and relaxed.

RECOMMENDED READING:  Resources on breathing and stress management can also be found online at www.health.harvard.edu

Remember:  Always consult with your supervising health care practitioner before making any diet and lifestyle changes.