Life is full of situations that have you reacting by becoming stressed out. Modern life is filled with stress and everyone complains how stressed they are. Lately, more and more people turn to meditation for stress and anxiety relief, and it might be an option for you as well. Read on and make up your own mind...
We can define the term “stress” two ways:
Stressors: the environments or events perceived by our bodies as dangerous and cause a reaction in us. These stressors can include anything from a near-miss car accident to riding in a crowded elevator.
Stress Reaction: the reaction of our mind and body to these dangerous things.
Our stress reactions, if we don’t have control over them, can be a major cause of chronic disease. We are always surrounded by dangerous things but we don’t always react to them. We are able to control our stress reactions to stressors, sometimes for the better, and sometimes not so much. But if we don’t understand the whys, we can be a victim of the stressors. If a major life change, such as the death of a loved one or a move to another state, if it happens when we are already stressed, it can be the tipping point and cause a major reaction such as depression or anxiety attacks.
Many stressors come from a difficult situation at home, an unhappy marriage and a feeling that there is no way out. Women, in particular, will stay in such situations for years, and the cumulative effect of that stress reaction can kill, from a heart attack or high blood pressure. Stress can be a direct cause of coronary heart disease and affects the immune system by lowering its ability to fight off infection and disease.
Proaction - meditation for stress and anxiety relief
Stress can cause decreased nutrition uptake by causing decreased blood flow to the digestive area and that lowers your metabolism. With decreased enzyme activity and decrease in intestinal flora, problems like stomach ulcers or IBS can also initiate.
When we get headaches, backaches, and are irritable, we need to see that these are only the outward signs of stress. Chronic stress is working to destroy our bodies from the inside out. It not only causes physical effects but also changes our body chemistry, turning it against itself and causing disease. Our only way to eliminate the stress and anxiety is to look for ways to relax and minimize the stress reaction.
Proaction: controlling a situation by making things happen or by preparing for possible future problems.
Stay in control - change the outcome
In the end, it is what we choose to react to and how, that causes our own stress. We hold the keys in how we react. Take a moment and analyze what it really is that makes you upset by a certain stressor and why your stress reaction displays outwardly in a certain way and see that you have a choice. Choose to stay in control, proactively fix the situation causing you to react in a stressful way and direct your life in the way you want it to go. Loss of control is stress, taking the reins of life is the way out. You have the right to say “no, I will not let this situation cause me to be stressed out and I will diffuse how I normally react and take a proactive part in changing the outcome.”
A relaxation technique can be almost anything that makes you attain a calm state. Many people turn towards hobbies like knitting, gardening, or activities like taking a warm bath before bedtime, or listening to calming music. Whatever routine you use for calming down is ok, and you only need to seek something else if you’re calming routine stops working, or doesn’t work for a new kind of stress.
Relaxation training is a more effective way of dealing with stress and anxiety when you have no way already set. You may be facing a situation you have never had before and are looking for something you can do to relieve the feelings you are having. Trying to ignore it or “push it down” will just internalize your stress and end up harming your body eventually.
Here are some ideas for relaxation techniques that have worked for many others. Since everyone responds differently, becoming overwhelmed or depressed, or both, you can try a few of these and see what works for you.
Movement Based Methods include: • Yoga
• T’ai Chi
Mind/Body Methods include: • Prayer
• Listening to music
How do we respond to stress
We all basically respond to stress the same way on the inside – our blood pressure rises, our muscles constrict, our heart beats faster. Our bodies are working so hard and our immunity systems get drained. But on the outside we can mask the stress, even to ourselves. You can use your senses to help you deal with unexpected stress. When you are not sure if a situation is causing you stress, take a moment and ask yourself: Are your muscles tight or does your stomach hurt? Have you clenched your fists? Is your breath shallow? If so, you have stress lurking beneath your calm exterior.
For those of you who do express the stress outwardly, there are three ways we show stress:
If you are angry and irritated - you can get stress relief from Bodywork and Mind/Body methods.
You are depressed and withdrawn - you can get stress relief from Movement Based methods.
If you freeze and get agitated AND withdrawn - you could benefit from all three methods of stress relief. You need to find what works for your unique stress reaction.
If stress continues for a long time with no letup we can feel burned out. This is when you are emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted. Your whole body has been affected by unrelenting chronic stress. Usually we have a feeling of there being no way out and we are shutting down, not able to deal with the tension anymore. You need to slow down and seek support from friends and family or even a professional. Apply some of these relaxation techniques before you reach the burnout stage.
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