Do you have too much to do with too little time to get it done? Are you constantly frazzled, trying to do all that you want or need to do? Does the end of the month bring financial worries without relief in sight? Do you struggle to juggle your work, your home, your family and your spouse? Do you suffer with a chronic illness that drains you of all your energy? If so, you are suffering with chronic stress.
Stress is a natural part of life. Your body is designed to respond to acute stress for survival. Nature instilled a protective reflex called the “fight or flight” response to warn us in times of danger. Imagine your primal ancestors, living in a cave. When a danger surfaced – for example a tiger nearby in the wild – their bodies responded with physical changes to prepare them to either fight the battle or flee for survival. These physical responses – increased blood pressure, racing heart beat, dilated pupils to detect danger, heightened hearing, decreased blood flow to the arms and legs with blood going to more vital organs such as the brain, heart and lungs – enabled them to respond quickly for survival of our species.
When danger passed, another reflex occurred, the “rest and digest” response. This response is designed to restore the normal, harmonious balance of the body. Blood pressure decreases, heart rate slows and blood flow returns to the digestive system, arms and legs, while draining away from the head, heart and lungs. Pupils constrict while hearing returns to normal. The physical effects of acute stress have been neutralized.
Today, we don’t generally have to fight tigers to survive. Yet we do have many real crisises, both large and small, that produce this same physical response on a chronic basis. When you experience chronic stress, your body is poised in the “fight or flight” mode long-term. The physical effects continue and ultimately begin to drain your body of vital energy. The stress hormones that sustain these processes – cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline – wreak havoc on your immune system, your metabolism and ultimately your overall health.
This is why it is important to manage chronic stress. You may not be able to eliminate the stress in your life but you can teach your body not to respond so strongly on a chronic basis to these stresses. You can provide regular periods of relaxation in order to neutralize the toxic effect of stress on your body. Chronic stress has now been linked to the development of many common conditions – high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and even obesity. Let’s look at some common ways to reduce stress.
Exercise, done on a regular basis, is an excellent way to dispel excessive stress and anxiety. Pleasurable activities, such as hobbies,golf or even a bubble bath can be very effective at lowering stress. A soothing massage can melt away stress. Surprisingly, good old-fashioned laughter can diffuse the physical effects of chronic stress. And guess what? Even “simulated” laugher can lower stress. That’s right! Just pretending to laugh can raise your endorphins, the “feel good” molecules of your brain! There are even laughter clubs springing up across the country to provide a place for people to laugh together on a regular basis.
If you want to explore some more interesting ways to reduce stress, there are actual mind body exercises you can quickly and easily learn from books, audios or classes. Most communities have programs at local hospitals, clinics, gyms or yoga centers, designed to teach all levels from beginners to advanced.
For example, breathing techniques are great forms of stress reduction since you always have your breath available to use anytime, anywhere. They can be as simple as taking a slow, relaxed in-breath with a soft belly and then gently letting out the breath. They can be as complex px7 primal flow reviews as very stylized, rapid and chaotic breathing patterns used for centuries in yoga. There are many exercises from which to choose.
Visualization exercises, often called guided imagery, are also great forms of stress relief. Simply by using your imagination, you create calm and relaxing images in your mind that actually calm and relax your body. These techniques are so powerful, many modern hospital programs are using them to help patients relax and control pain.
Meditation is a practice common to all forms of religion. But guess what? You don’t have to be religious to reap the benefits of meditation. Simply by focusing your attention on a sound,a word or even your breath, you can calm the mind as well as calm the body, releasing stress.
If none of these appeal to you, you might be the person who would benefit from writing in a journal to release stress. Interestingly, the mind doesn’t know the difference when you write about events in your life versus when you respond to the actual events. So with a little practice, you can write to release unpleasant sensations or write to create positive and plea