word that we all have in common. No matter what your sources of stress
may be, it's important to take some time to first recognize the impact
of stress in your life, and then begin to implement some healthy
relaxation practices into your life.
RECOGNIZING STRESS --- WHAT IS IT?!
a personal response to the demands life makes on your body, mind,
feelings and spirit
- can be positive or negative,
but is a normal part of life
- affects our
physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health
Failing to cope with stress increases your chances of becoming ill (75%
to 95% of illness is stress related). The energy and enzymes normally
used by the immune system to protect the body against infection are
being diverted to deal with stress. Some physical manifestations of
| Immediate reactions
|| Intermediate reactions
|| Long-term effects |
| -increased heart rate
|| -heart disease |
| -sweaty palms
|| -high blood pressure |
| -shallow breathing
|| -depression |
| -muscle tenseness
|| -ulcers and insomnia |
| -increased blood pressure
|| -chronic fatigue |
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS
Failing to cope with stress can affect our thoughts and feelings on a
daily basis in the following ways:
| -excessive worry or fear
|| -inability to concentrate
|| -agitation |
| -feeling "on edge"
|| -anger/lashing out |
Failing to cope with stress can impact our very spirit, affecting the
essence of who we are and who we want to become. We may begin to feel:
-disharmony between our beliefs and daily life practices |
|| -engaged in a
"hopeless" search for meaning |
The common tendency is to treat the symptoms, but
not the real problem, which is the source of the stress! Taking the
time to reveal, feel and heal the source(s) of the stress is one of the
single best strategies toward complete health and wellness. A
Professionally Trained Counselor is often the key to guiding you
through this important process.
HEALTHY RELAXATION PRACTICES TO COPE WITH
One of the body's automatic reactions to stress is rapid,
shallow breathing. Breathing slowly and deeply is one of the ways you
can "turn off" your stress reaction and "turn on" your relaxation
response. Best of all, it can be done anytime, anywhere in as little as
Sit or lie in a comfortable
position. Become aware of your breathing. Place your hand on your
abdomen. Without forcing, let your abdomen rise and expand as you
inhale, and fall as you exhale. Gradually allow your breathing to
become deeper and slower, and enjoy increasing relaxation with each
According to Kansas State University physical education and
leisure studies professor Karla Kubitz, exercise can help people cope
better with stress. In her study, she found that people who exercise
regularly recover faster from psychological stress and their bodies are
more efficient in responding to stress. So choose an activity and get
Clear Your Mind
Clearing your mind helps you take a mental and physical break
from the "outside world" and helps balance the stress of everyday life.
This practice also forms the basis for other relaxation techniques such
as meditation and requires only 5-10 minutes of your time.
- Reduce distractions, noise and interruptions as much as
- Sit or lie down comfortably, loosen
tight clothing, kick off your shoes and begin to do some deep breathing
as described above.
- Mentally focus on one
peaceful word, thought or image. If other thoughts enter (they probably
will) don't be discouraged. Simply acknowledge these thoughts and
release them, continuing to breathe deeply and relax.
Stretch and exhale as you complete this exercise. With practice,
clearing your mind can help you feel refreshed, energetic and ready to
tackle the next challenge!
Communicate and Express Your Feelings
Talking to others who care enough to listen is important in
reducing stress. Sharing your thoughts, feelings, goals, frustrations,
joys and successes with people who listen validates and affirms your
sense of worth.
Communication also means
listening...your partner, family, children and friends experience
stress when they're not listened to. Both talking and listening to
others helps you build a support system.
important concept is to allow yourself to feel and express your
emotions alone or with a supportive person. Children release emotions
naturally and immediately, and each of us is born with the innate
ability to do this. But our culture teaches us early on the need to
suppress and control our emotions. Only after you are able to access
and express emotions that have been "stuffed" or "controlled" can true
inner healing begin.