Monday, December 6, 2010

Stress Busters - Just in Time For The Holidays

We all experience stress at some time in our lives. Stress  is our inner response to circumstances which challenge us to adapt and change. According to Dr. Hans Selye, a pioneer in the stress response, stress is a coping mechanism. He distinguishes between positive stress and negative stress. Basically, it depends on the underlying emotions which cause the stress.

Positive emotions cause positive stress. With positive stress your body produces a number of chemicals including endorphins, serotonin and dopamine which help to provide a relaxing feeling or enjoyment. Positive stress helps to increase our creativity and productivity; it gives us a feeling of wellbeing and happiness; and strengthens our immune system to the point where it makes us resistant to inflammation and illness.

In contrary, negative emotions such as fear and anger, cause negative stress. When the negative emotion engages the “flight and fight” mechanism, it mobilizes the stress hormones released by the adrenal glands, mainly cortisol which gives us momentarily energy. This is all good and well, when we have the emergency situation, and we need the extra muscle strength to run from the enemy. The problem starts when we don’t have that external emergency to burn off that extra energy. The cortisol hormones will be stored in the cells where they can cause inflammation, obesity or other diseases.

This is where negative stress becomes ugly. It causes anxiety, depression, loss of productivity, frustration, avoiding social contact, loss of immune function and eventually illness. From there it is not anymore what happens to us externally but rather how we can manage our emotions.

"Stress is a form of energy expenditure - mental, emotional, or physical - which must be offset by a balanced commitment to energy recovery." ~ Jim Loehr, LGE Performance Systems

So what can we do to deal with stress properly?

When we understand, it is not what happens to us but rather how we react to it, can we develop the best response.

“Without stress there would be no live.” Dr. Hans Selye, Austrian-Hungarian Endocrinologist, coined the term stress in 1930.

In that sense we have to watch our emotional response to any experience and make sure that we seek out positive emotions. Every emotion creates a certain (energy) vibration and based on the resonance in the body we are happy and healthy or feel tired and depressed. We now know that stress is caused by an energy imbalance in the body.

Albert Einstein proved in 1920’s with his E=mc2 that everything is energy. From then on science has gotten away from the Newtonian physics which believed that everything in the universe is solid matter. When we see the human body as an energy system with more than 70% being water and empty space, rather than solid flesh and bones, can we have hope that eventually the medical establishment can also accept that it is our beliefs and perceptions which create our health (Dr. Bruce Lipton, The Biology of Belief).

Here are some stress busters we can use:

*  Decide that this stress is not going to get you down.

*  Feed you immune system. Good nutrition and extra vitamins during the winter months are crucial to have the best defense.

*  Protect your heart – I mean your spiritual heart. It is essential to keep negative emotion in check and find ways to release unwanted emotions. I have become familiar with The Emotion Code, developed by Dr. Brad Nelson. It is a simple way to release negative emotions on a regular base.

*  Do something enjoyable, actions disburse nervous energy.

*  Laugh – find something funny or just imagine it, laughing releases tension.

*  Exercise - Muscle Relaxation – stress influences our thought process and makes us tense our muscles. Tense and relax each muscle consciously, it de-stresses quickly.

*  Walking – get outside, enjoy the sunshine, get fresh air and relax

*  Breathing – Take a deep breath, again and again. In times of stress our breath becomes compromised. Sometimes we even stop breathing or just breathe very shallow.

*  Use stress as a motivator - Engage all 5 senses and become creative. Smell a beautiful flower, eat a piece of chocolate, listen to some soothing music, touch an animal or get a hug.

*  Be Present – Live in the moment, and you don’t feel stressed. Think of how you will think of your stress in 7 days or even 7 years. Take a new perspective on the situation.

*  Think on a larger scale - think of others who are in a worst situation. By taking a bigger perspective, your problem may be very small.

*  Pray, meditate or just get quiet. Listen to that small voice inside.

There are various breathing techniques from yoga to qigong practices. We know from the law of inertia which states that no object changes direction or moves without extra force acted on it.

Power Breathing

I like to introduce a power breathing technique which is a combination of bagha and deep breathing through the mouth. Power breathing creates great physiological changes in the body and contributes to new energy and de-stress.

Sit up with your back straight. Fold your hands together or just touch your hands. Put your tongue against the upper front teeth (Bagha) and start breathing through your mouth. Take deep breaths (inflate your belly); breathe in and out for 10 seconds. Slow your breath if you become lightheaded. Repeat several times until you feel energized. By that time you may have forgotten what your stressor was.

Here are some more resources for distressing: (short video to calm down quickly) Articles with 2 minute stress buster Relaxation Methods with Laura Silva from the Silva Life System. Instant Meditation for Stress Relief by John Hudson by Martial Arts Expert & Power Breathing for Life creator Sang H. Kim by Mark Baxter

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