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Stress Examiner

by Frances Smolen, ND

Stress is something most of us try to avoid. However, some stress may actually benefit our lives, while too much stress causes added conflict. Without stress we often lack the enthusiasm and energy that nudges us forward to achieve our goals of growing and learning. The trick is establishing a healthy level of stress, and maintaining that level.

The more stress and strain you are experiencing, the less likely you are able to cope with additional life events or hassles. You become more vulnerable. One event that is a hassle or challenge begins the snowball effect of stress. One event you may be able to cope with. Add another event or two, and the response to the stress becomes greater. You begin to become irritable, confused, angry and possibly even depressed. The greater the pile of stresses, the more vulnerable you are. All areas of your life suffer: physical, family, financial, professional, community, mental, social, and spiritual.

What contributes to stress? After all, stress is a response, not a cause. An action, reaction to an event is what causes the stress. First, before we keep using that word 'stress' let me bring this awareness to you. The word stress is used excessively without truly recognizing what it is. In today's world we consider stress the disease, when it is really the result of the challenges we face. Stress results when we are not prepared to cope with the changes that are happening in our lives. The changes and challenges come from a variety of areas in our lives. Most of the time we think of stress as something the 'other person' or 'other situation' gives to us. This is not correct. Stress is what our response is to the situation. We create the response to the events in our life.

Hurried and Rushed – Who Me?

In today's hurried life style stress results from what some call 'hurry sickness'. Do you ever try to get twice as much done in one day than is logical to achieve? Do you feel guilty when relaxing? Do lines at the checkout counter aggravate you? If so, these are signs of 'hurry sickness'. Some additional traits are:

  • Do you finish other people's sentences?

  • Do you think or do more than one thing at a time?

  • Do you find yourself scheduling more work/play into less time?

  • Do you eat too fast?

  • Do you place work before family?

If you answer yes to many of these questions, you may be suffering from 'hurry sickness'.

'Hurry sickness' has to do with trying to schedule more experiences so that we can be fulfilled. This is often reflected in a day that has so many appointments and obligations that there is no time remaining to be together with your family or friends. Even less time remains to reflect on what it all means. Workaholics are only one manifestation of the 'hurry sickness'. Other examples are drug abuse, disease, physical exhaustion, appetite changes and other health concerns.

Our hurried lives have been markedly altered by modern technology. The mass media, the speed and availability of travel, new communication devices like E-mail and cell phones have expanded our personal worlds. With the communication devices we have access to, it is a challenge to have some time to ourselves.

Help Time –

  1. Sit backing a chair – take a deep breathe. Quiet yourself (perhaps with some quiet music.)

  2. Place one hand on your forehead. (You are actually covering acupressure points.)

  3. Lightly hold your forehead. (This brings blood to the front of your brain so you can think clearly.)

  4. Think about what is stressing you. See it as vividly as possible.

  5. Take a deep breath.

  6. Keeping your hand in the same position begin thinking about how you could change this situation.

  7. How would it look if this situation could be responded to in a different manner?

  8. Take a deep breath, release hand.

  9. Be aware of how you feel.

It might take as long as ten minutes of holding if it is a strong stressor. The original cause of stress has not actually changed or disappeared. What has changed is your perception of the stress.

The most often received comment is; I see things in a different light or things are clearer now. Yes, you've been able to bring your brain function to the forebrain to begin making clearer choices. Use this technique. Benefit from it. Others have and you can to. When you release the stress from an issue, you are able to see solutions in a new light.

A one, maybe two second stress reliever –

Breathe – Breathe – Breathe

So often when under stress and going into the survival mode we tighten our chest and create shallow breathing. When this happens we do not get the oxygen we need. So simply taking a deep breath can be a most beneficial technique to relieve stress. Some people take a deep breath every time something beeps. Think of how often we hear beeping tones in our lives: car doors, microwaves, phones, computers. Take a breath every time you hear one and it will lessen you stress responses. Develop your own unique method to remind you to take a breath, when your watch beeps, or every time you return from a break, leave a building, etc.

And more –

Yes, there are many additional methods and actions you can use to reduce your stress. Feel free to explore. The library is a wonderful source. Many publications are available on stress. Or seek a professional person who can help you such as a massage therapist or other professions in the natural health field.

Most importantly, use methods and techniques that fit you the best. We are all individuals. Honor your body/mind to what is the best for you.

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