No matter whom you are or what you do, everyone will experience stress at some time as it is a normal part of life. Whilst some stress is actually good for you, too much stress can have a cumulative effect. As it adds up it can affect you in many ways, both physically and mentally.
Stress is a chemical reaction in your body when you confront danger – either real or perceived. Stress happens when your brain thinks something is threatening. The body releases chemicals into the nervous system that sends it racing. The heart pumps faster and you breathe more quickly to take in more oxygen. The body tenses up. Your reflexes get sharper. Your brain is preparing the body to deal with a dangerous situation. Although our modern stresses come from many places, they are no less real to us than dangers were to our caveman ancestors.
With the ever-increasing demands on our time and attention, modern life is full of stress. Some stress is rapid and lasts a relatively short time and goes away quickly. You do not accumulate physical stress in the body.
Other stress can be slow, and long-term. This stress can have cumulative effects on the body and tends to be more mental than physical. That is, it is more a product of the mind than of any actual physical danger. This is the type of stress that you may feel at work.
Tension is stress that is manifested in your physical being. Some signs of tension include headaches, muscle spasms, jaw tension, and tight shoulders and neck.
Much of our stress is self-induced but can be reduced through some easy and useful techniques.
Deep breathing from the diaphragm can produce calming result and is incorporated into many Eastern practices, such as yoga and meditation.
Here are some useful tips to help reduce your stress:
Lie on your back on a hard surface such as the floor. Place your palms up towards the ceiling. Let your body lie loosely. Calm your thoughts. Pay attention to your breathing. Now, take a long, deep breath in through your nose. The breath should last about 3 seconds. Pause slightly then exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to 4 as you exhale. Pause and take another breath. Repeat this until you can feel the rhythm and your breathing becomes cyclical.
Sit in a quiet area. Close your eyes and think of a beach. Visualise the beach, the way the sand looks and feels and the way the air smells. The sun is shining and there is a slight breeze blowing. The sky is clear blue. The water is lapping up onto shore, rhythmically. Now imagine you are the only one at the beach. You walk along, slowly. You take your shoes off and walk along the edge of the water, getting your feet wet. You stop to pick up shells. The water is beautiful. Spend about 5 minutes visualising yourself walking along the beach.
Give yourself a pressure massage. You can massage yourself on your arms, legs or shoulders. Sit comfortably in a chair and relax your body. Using your fingertips and thumbs, apply pressure into your tight muscles. Apply the pressure to each area for about 5 seconds, then move to another area. Try to relax as you perform this massage. You can do this anywhere. You can do this massage right through your clothing.
Meditation has great benefits. It is an ancient discipline that enables you to clear your mind so you can concentrate on your whole self. It helps you bring your body and mind together – giving you quiet time to contemplate yourself – who you are and who you can be. It brings together an awareness of breathing and mental control.
Choose a quiet time when you won’t be interrupted – mornings are best. Find a calm corner floor area. Sit cross-legged on the floor or on a straight-back chair. Be aware of good posture, and practice a breathing exercise to relax. Place your hands comfortably on your lap. Now you must clear all thoughts from your mind. Just “be”. This will be hard at first but will become easier with time. Start with 5 minutes at first. As outside thoughts enter your head push them out again. Clear your mind. Focus on your breathing. Feel your blood flow through your body. After 5 minutes, slowly return to the present. As you practice this technique, you will become better at it.
Massage therapy can be very beneficial for stress relief. There are many forms of massage such as Shiatsu, Swedish, Sports, and deep-tissue. Whichever form you choose the therapist will use gliding and kneading techniques and movements to relax your muscles and improve circulation. Some massage therapists use oils, which are also beneficial for the aromatherapy they provide.
Go To The Park
Find a local park and go there to exercise. Walk or jog through the park or do stretching exercises. Then sit on a park bench and relax. Clear your mind and take in nature and the sights around you. Try to listen for birds. Just 15 or 20 minutes in the park will transform your spirit and refresh you. Your stress will be melted away.
Try Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art. It is a soft-style martial art that uses relaxation of the muscles. Not only does it help keep us fit, Tai Chi also teaches awareness of your balance. The benefits of Tai Chi for the release of stress are well known.
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About the Author
Sandra Hinshelwood is a small-business coach and mentor working with new business owners. Through her coaching and online programmes she has helped her clients to increase their confidence, manage the transition