Need A Little Stress Relief?
If you were to ask a dozen people to define stress, or explain how stress affects them, you would likely get 12 different answers. The reason for this is that there is no definition of stress that everyone agrees on, and what is stressful for one person may be pleasurable or have little effect on others. Every person reacts to stress in their own, unique way. Some of these reactions are not healthy, such as eating large quantities of comfort food. (After all, “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts”!)
Modern life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands. Occupational pressures and difficult family situations, illnesses and financial concerns, and fears of the future all can serve as sources of stress.
Here is a list of things you can do to relieve stress. By taking a little time each day for one of these, you can maintain a healthy equilibrium mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically, even when your life becomes stressful.
Praying: Those who pray daily experience less stress and anxiety. Prayer helps you see your woes from an eternal perspective. Prayer also provides an opportunity to give thanks for your blessings, and ask for Divine help.
Relaxation Breathing: Deep, slow breathing- the kind that reaches all the way into your gut, moving your abdomen in and out- is one of the easiest approaches to getting relief from stress. Deep breathing helps oxygenate your blood, which wakes up your brain, relaxes your muscles, and quiets your mind. Try breathing in for a slow count of 4, and then out for a slow count of 6. Repeat 3 to 6 times. Do this multiple times throughout the day.
Exercising: Any form of exercise is useful to help your body deal with the unwanted physiologic impact of stress. Walking in a nice environment is an excellent choice, or perhaps something more rigorous like bicycling or running. For exercise suggestions, see my book, Staying Young And Healthy.
Listening to Calming Music: Listening to, or performing, calming music can be a powerful tool to aid relaxation and relieve stress. Music has been found to have an impact on hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain, and has direct anxiety lowering actions.
Lying quietly in a neck cradle: Available from our office, I call this “stress management in a box”. Within 10 to 15 minutes, most of my patients experience deep muscle relaxation and a sense of calm.
Laughing: Seeing a funny movie, reading a funny book or article, of hanging out with an entertaining friend grants a great respite from daily stress. A good belly laugh is very therapeutic, releasing a number of healing chemicals from the brain.
Avoiding stress in our world is not a realistic option. However, by regularly applying these strategies, the harmful health effects of stress can be minimized. If you feel that your stress is causing physical symptoms or contributing to pain, please tell me about this at a future visit!