It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. – Hans Selye
The race is on! Your alarm has rung; you bolt out of bed and begin to go through your mental “to-do list”. Before the day has started, you are already feeling stressed. How can you possibly get everything done?
FIGHT OR FLIGHT RESPONSE
The physiological arousal caused by this type of lifestyle mimics the fight or flight response. Your body goes through a number of changes:
- Your heart rate increases
- Your breathing may become shallow and rapid
- You experience butterflies in your stomach
As the name implies, these changes are preparing you for immediate action. They are preparing you to flee or to fight.
While all of this is going on, something else happens that can have long-term negative effects if left unchecked. Your adrenal glands start to secret corticoid which inhibits digestion, reproduction, tissue repair, and the responses of your immune and inflammatory systems. In other words, some very important functions that keep your body healthy begin to shut down. It’s been estimated that as many as 80% – 90% of doctor’s visits are for symptoms that are at least partially stress-related.
What a bleak statistic! You don’t have to succumb to it. There are a number of highly effective stress reduction techniques that can help you enhance your physical and emotional well-being.
We all have the capability to reduce our stress levels by learning how to breathe properly. One type of breathing exercise is belly breathing. Try this exercise anytime that you need to relieve stress.
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
- Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
- Repeat this 3 to 10 times.
After these repetitions, you should begin to feel much more relaxed.
LEARNING HOW TO SAY NO
When you interpret someone else’s request or need as a demand you mistakenly believe you have no choice but to say yes to it. When you say “yes” to the demands of others you’re really saying “no” to yourself. Ultimately, this can create a state of stress. When you are tempted to automatically say yes to a request, ask yourself the following question. By saying yes to other people’s requests, how am I saying no to myself? Get in the habit of asking yourself this question and see how your stress level decreases.
RIDDING YOURSELF OF THE SUPER WOMAN SYNDROME
Do you try to be everything to everyone? Are you living by standards that are no longer applicable to your life style? For example, do you feel pressured to have a sparkling clean home even though you are now working a 40-hour week and raising a family? Take the time to see what standards you can relax and remind yourself that “Super Woman” is a mythical character.
SHORTEN YOUR TO-DO LIST
On any given day, how many times do you say, “I’ll relax when I complete all of the things on my “To do List?” Without realizing it, you create a chemical rush of adrenaline by pumping yourself up to accomplish all of these tasks, and can eventually get addicted to high adrenaline levels. When adrenaline continues to pulse in your body a myriad of health problems can begin to occur. Therefore, it is important to begin to truly look at your “To Do List” and determine if any tasks can be dropped, delegated or delayed.
Studies indicate that women do more obligatory things in a day than they do pleasurable things. This accounts for why the stress level for women can mount. Make a commitment to incorporate one pleasurable activity into your day. It does not have to be for a lengthy period of time. Some women have found that taking a relaxing bubble bath, reading a good book, or having a massage can significantly reduce their stress levels.
LEARNING HOW TO RELAX
Learning how to relax can combat stress. Explore modalities such as; meditation, yoga, qigong, tai chi, and exercise to decrease stress and enhance your well-being.
STRESS INOCULATING STATEMENTS You can also lessen your stress level by learning how to create stress-coping thoughts. Your interpretation of the incident sets off your emotional reaction. You can learn to lessen stress by creating stress-inoculating statements. These statements signal your body that there is no need for arousal- it can relax. Some statements that you can say are:
- Stay calm
- Breathe and relax
- I am capable of dealing with this
These powerful pathways can serve as portals that can ease you into a more relaxed state. You don’t have to fall victim to a stress-filled life. Make a commitment to de-stress your life!-