Stresssed out? Relax. Here's how to get started.

By Dr GaryCA Latest Activity February 13, 2011 at 7:11 pm Views 3,942 Replies 14 Likes 14

Dr Gary

Hi!

First, a quick introduction. I counsel individuals who are facing chronic conditions, as well as their family members and caregivers. I work with them on dealing with the emotions around their condition, making treatment decisions, communicating with healthcare providers, creating positive relationships, and other issues that arise. One issue that comes up a lot is stress management.

I recently posted a short article about meditation on another discussion board, and am posting it again here. I hope that, by doing so, I can offer you some ideas that might help you to feel a little, if not a lot, less stressed out.
As you probably know, constant stress can affect us mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Who needs that? So… what are you doing about your stress?

Have you tried using relaxation techniques like mindfulness meditation?
You’re probably asking: “Don’t we have to get out of our minds, or at least the jumble of thoughts and feelings that we all carry with us, if we are going to have any peace? I can’t sneak away and pretzel-ize myself into a lotus position!” Actually, the benefit of meditation is to learn to be with – and not avoid – what goes on inside our minds as well as what goes on around us, and to be more aware of what’s important.

Meditation actually helps you to calm the inner clutter in your mind – fear, anger, jealousy – so that you can participate more fully in life, with compassion and understanding. With meditation, you train the mind to stop reacting. That can make all the difference in a moment of stress. And who doesn’t have moments of stress?

Start with a Body Scan. When you find yourself about to become overwhelmed do a mental scan to see what parts of your body you are clenching, like your fists or your jaw. Relax those muscles. This will send a message to your brain that you aren’t mobilizing for a battle and, chances are, you’ll feel some relief. If you can, try to step away for a moment.
Watch Your Breath. Literally. Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, start out by simply watching your breath. Soon, you’ll notice yourself breathing more slowly, calmly, and deeply. Count your breaths from one to ten. Then backwards. Then start again.

Don’t Fight Your Noisy Mind. Our minds never stop their activity. Don’t fight yourself! Let’s say you have a memory of something that happened during the day. Don’t push it away, but instead say something like: “Yeah, that guy really got in my way. One (breath in, breath out on each count). Two. Yep, I’m annoyed. Three. Four. I can’t control anyone else’s behavior. Out goes that resentment. Five. Six. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Life is good.”

Your mind may still be bang-banging for action. If you have to return to the source of the stress, remind yourself that you can be in the chaos but you still don’t have to be part of it. Tell your mind to quiet down. After all, meditation is a discipline.

Try the Three Minute Smile. Even in the middle of a crazy day, you can take a minute or so to take a mental vacation. Mentally leave the moment to hit the beach to feel the warm sun and smile at the friends you brought with you. And then hold that smile when you return to the real world.

Wake Up! Learn to relax when that urge to control takes over, and you’ll find that there is more to you, and the world, than you ever imagined. You may even feel as if you’ve been sleepwalking.

How are you handling your stress? Any ideas to share? Any questions or frustrations that we can help you with? Feel free to chime in!

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