Stress & Relaxation

Tongue on the roof of your mouth?

Shoulders up to your ears?

Eyelid twitching?

Jaw clenched?

Moody?

You’re probably stressed out. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Hey, life’ll do that to us sometimes and our world is full of reasons to be stressed TF out! But what’s important to remember is that more often that not, the way we respond to stress is completely within our control.

It’s ironic too because when we’re stressed out it’s usually because we feel we have no control.

But that’s not true! We always have control over how we respond to situations that stress us out.

To stress or not to stress, that is the question.

You still with me, Horacio?

When our bodies and minds experience stress, the symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways – from the ones mentioned above (which are some of the ways my body “stresses” out) to experiencing nausea, muscle aches, shaking, dry mouth, and headaches.

As with most everything, our stress responses are habitual and because they’re habitual those habits can be broken. Stress is very real but you don’t have to be stressed out.

The CDC recommends the following ways to help you reduce your stress:

  • Take care of yourself.
    • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
    • Exercise on a regular basis
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out
  • Talk to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor. Often times a little perspective is all that’s needed to take the weight of the world off your shoulders.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. These may seem to help with the stress. But in the long run, they create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.
  • Take a break. If news events are causing your stress, take a break from listening or watching the news.

Those are great but sometimes our stress can just as easily be alleviated by making adjustments to our behavior. For example: you’ve got bills to pay but can’t remember to pay them? Easy, just set up reminders in your phone.

Or if you’re a chronic procrastinator, make a schedule and follow it.

Or if certain situations, people and places stress you out: duces up and bounce, yo! โœŒ๐Ÿผ

Healthline has some wonderful suggestions for alleviating stress.

Exercise appears at the top of many lists, and let me tell you, as a self acknowledged Worry Wart, exercise has become a life saver for me!

I exercise everyday now, the benefits of which are just too numerous to recount here. But yes, I’ve experienced a dramatic decline in the amount of stress I feel even though, in many ways, my life is now more “stressful” than ever.

There are other ways to help you reduce stress and relax. One of my favorites is Full Body Relaxation and it goes like this:

Start at your feet and work your way up to your face, trying to only tense those muscles intended.

  • Loosen clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
  • Take a few minutes to breathe in and out in slow, deep breaths.
  • When youโ€™re ready, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
  • Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
  • Relax your foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and how your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
  • Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
  • Shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
  • Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the different muscle groups.
  • It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.
Special thanks to helpguide.org for typing all that out for me.
My other favorite stress reduction technique, and I’ve written about it extensively here, is Mindfulness Meditation.
Typically, stress is a result of dwelling in the past, reliving old “trauma” or living in the future, inventing scenarios to worry over. Mindfulness jerks us into the present, where, more often than not, everything is ok. So, if you find yourself stressed out over something that has happened or has yet to happen take note of your present moment and stop time traveling. You’re not Marty McFly.

What’s being said?

What do your pants feel like against your legs?

What color are the walls?

My personal cue to get present is simply to say, “Now.” Use it or find your own. And over the course of a day you may have to get “present” 1000 times. That’s ok, so long as you become present. Over time you’ll find the need to say it will lessen as you stay in the present moment more and more.

Stress, like every other emotion, produces a signature chemical cocktail that our bodies and brains become accustomed to operating under when experienced for long periods of time. So, if you’re chronically stressed out you’ll need to come to terms with the fact that you may be a stress addict. And if you are, that’s ok but these techniques may not be all you need so seek out a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. Admitting you have a problem is the first step.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

Corri Ten Bloom

Om, Baby. Om!

Joshua T.

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