by Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB & Wendy Midgley,MED, RD, CDE
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important—-NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have power.”
The energy of Spring invites us to feel GRATITUDE as we experience the blessings of this Season. Nature beckons, flowers are budding and blooming. It is a time of new beginnings, a new cycle. Out with the old, in with the NEW!
April is also Stress Awareness Month. It is a time to boost our immune system, and find new ways to respond to what we define as stressful situations. Everyone perceives so-called stressful situations differently.
Stressful circumstances are very individualized and can include a wide variety of events ranging from: loss of a loved one, to serving a jail-term, to paying off our mortgage, to a change of responsibilities for a promotion at work, to preparing for a wonderful trip, to moving into our dream home. We sometimes label events as a “good stress” or a “bad stress”; but both types can result in physiological reactions that tax the body.
In this BLOG: we share insights, tips and strategies to help calm our nervous systems and connect to a greater whole.
WHAT is STRESS?: The term ‘stress’ refers to the response we have when facing circumstances that force us to act, change, or adjust in some way to maintain our footing, or to keep things balanced. (The circumstances themselves are known as ‘stressors.’)
This stress response, also known as “the fight-or-flight response,” triggers many involuntary reactions in our bodies–giving us an extra energy burst to help us “fight” or run away from perceived threats.
“Fight or flight” was a helpful response in earlier ages, when most of the stresses we faced were physical—and bursts of quick physical energy were needed to keep us alive. In current times–more of our threats are psychological, e.g.: job stress, interpersonal conflicts, or experiencing an airplane flight delay. The fight or flight response, which can actually make us think less clearly, isn’t always necessary, or even helpful.
***When we face stressors frequently over extended time, our quality of health, life, and longevity are affected.***
“Having your stress response activated long-term, and not getting your body back to a state of relaxation can tax your system, leaving you overstimulated and depleted at the same time. Studies on health and stress have shown that stress can be a causal or contributing factor to virtually all major illnesses because chronic stress can lower immunity.” http://stress.about.com/od/understandingstress/a/what_is_stress.htm
***Chronic stress is a major contributing factor in: heart disease, gastrointestinal distress, sleep disturbances, headaches and neurological conditions—as well as emotional conditions such as depression and chronic anxiety states.***
Acute or Short-Term Stress: Some situations or events may be extremely intense but are short-lived. Examples of this are: the anxiety (and possible physiological responses) one experiences prior to taking a major examination, giving a public speech, awaiting news in the mail re: admission to college, or getting stuck in an elevator or traffic jam. Such ordinary events can make some people feel they are going berserk!! Tips on how to handle these situations will be discussed further along in our BLOG.
STRATEGIES for MANAGING STRESS
Techniques for managing stress range from those used to: “re-boot” our brain RIGHT NOW–to long-term stress mastery practices.
Quick stress relievers such as: BREATHING techniques, a yoga pose, laughing at oneself, or taking a walk around the block can help us elicit a calming response to a tense situation. Such practices help us tone down our body’s stress response so that we can respond more effectively to the situation at hand. Simple stress reduction techniques contribute to improving our quality of life.
***Don’t spend so much time worrying about the past and future that you fail to do the things you need to do today, and that will undermine your tomorrow.***
SPECIFIC INTERVENTIONS for SPECIFIC ISSUES:
- Relationship Stress: Sign up for interpersonal communication classes or therapy, or coaching classes for assertiveness skills
- Job Stress? Take steps toward moving into a new job or find more acceptance with what you can accomplish at your current job.
- Financial Stress? Sit down with a financial advisor, or take a course in money management. Maybe it’s time to consider a new job and/or develop alternative streams of income?
- Self Sabotage. Sometimes we are our “own worst enemy!” Work with a coach or therapist to create a healthier relationship with your self. Learn techniques to be good to ourselves and make wiser decisions.
Long-Term Stress Management:
It is important to have regular activities in our lives that replenish and re-charge us, and that help us become more emotionally and physically resilient in facing stressors in daily life.
Rather than becoming periodically or routinely overwhelmed with stress: practice some sort of stress-relieving activities on a regular basis. In doing so, we’ll be less reactive to stressors, and better able to handle them when they do show up.
Some of these healthy habits include: MEDITATION and RELAXATION techniques, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY and EXERCISE and the regular practice of LAUGHING and HAVING FUN!
***”One of the best and cheapest ways to become healthier and happier is through mindfulness exercises like meditation.”*** –Arianna Huffington President of the Huffington Post–
***Physical activity in almost any form boosts our ‘feel-good’ endorphins and distracts us from daily worries.***
RAISE OUR CONSCIOUSNESS, RAISE OUR VIBRATIONS.
In addition to meditation and de–stressing practices: we can also consciously choose to RAISE OUR CONSCIOUSNESS and AWARENESS to “LIGHTEN UP.”
When we seek the states and qualities of JOY, ACCEPTANCE, and LOVE, and when we act from COURAGE–we feel better, and we deal with stressful situations with greater calm and resourcefulness.
- Focus your attention on your INTENTIONS–not your worries and doubts.
- Create a personal WORD BANK, composed of words that regenerate you. For example, words like: abundance, fascinating, curious, a great learning experience, loving, fun, funny, compassionate, hopeful, inspiring, vivacious, beautiful, passionate. Recite these words first thing in the morning, or just before bed, or at any time during the day when you are feeling “off.” Replace negative words such as terrible, awful, miserable, dreadful, insane with a higher quality word from your WORD BANK.
- Learn a new BREATHING TECHNIQUE:
Exercise: Inhale through your nose to the count of 5. Notice the brief moment of stillness between your inhale and exhale—that space that occurs in the moment of transition. Breathe out through your mouth to the count of 5.
***”Breathing is an effective nutrition enhancer because the greater the capacity to take in oxygen, the higher your metabolic burning power will be.”***
- Eat healthy foods. Avoid sugars and processed foods. Follow a low glycemic load way of eating that balances proteins (like fish and poultry, nuts) with high fiber vegetables and salads and complex carbohydrates such as those found in legumes (beans, lentils).
- Take a moment each day and close your eyes. PAUSE for a brief mental vacation and reconnect to yourself and to your inner peace.
- Repeat YOUR version of the SERENITY PRAYER.
(Your Higher Source), grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
- Try bodywork or manual therapies. Some examples include: Swedish massage, reflexology, and cranial sacral therapy.
- Learn a body meditation such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Pilates, etc.
- Create an actual Picture Board of people, places and things that uplift you. Refer to this Vision board in your mind, as necessary.
- Engage in regular physical activity. Physical activity in almost any form boosts “feel good endorphins” and distracts us from daily worries.
- Spend time in Nature and bring Nature into our homes: like flowers, plants, even pictures of Nature. Create your own garden of flowers, vegetables and herbs.
***Researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands studied restaurant diners and found that people with fresh flowers on their tables seem to be in better moods. Photos of flowers and plants also have positive psychological effects.*** http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sally-augustin/health-benefits-flowers_b_2992014.html
- Stay involved in the Creative Arts—whatever calls to you: e.g.: Music, Reading, Writing, Poetry, Painting, Interior Design.
- Nurture social connections: with family, friends, and social causes that call to you.
- Love your pets: Stroking beloved pets can help lower our blood pressure.
- Seek professional therapy if you feel stuck in patterns that are not serving you. Or attend a support group.
“To go beyond mind and reconnect with the deeper reality of BEING–very different qualities are needed: SURRENDER, NONJUDGMENT, and OPENNESS that allows Life to BE instead of resisting it.” —Eckhart Tolle—
This Spring, we wish you the power to expand your consciousness and thus, transform your life.
Wendy and Deb,
The Wellness Shifter Ladies!!!
- Arnold M. Patent—(book) You Can Have it ALL.
- The Oprah Magazine June 2012: “The Nurture of Nature” (article by Cristina Tudino)
- John Sarno, MD. (book) The Mindbody Prescription.
- Ashley Davis Bush .LCSW, (book) Shortcuts to inner Peace
- Elizabeth Harper. (book) Wishing: How to Fulfill Your Heart’s Desire
- Joseph F. Audette and Allison Bailey. (book) Integrative Pain Medicine.
- http://www.katiecouric.com/on-the-show/2013/02/01/how-to-de-stress-your-life-with-goldie-hawn-and-deepak-chopra/ (Katie Couric show on Stress Reduction with Goldie Hawn and Deepak Chopra, MD
3-22-12 “Positive Presence of flowers in Restaurants.”
Flower Webheader from: www.freewebheaders.com