How to deal with Stress!
We generally use the word “stress” when we feel that everything seems to have become too much – we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us.
Stress is necessary for life. You need stress for creativity, learning, and your very survival. Stress is only harmful when it becomes overwhelming and interrupts the healthy state of equilibrium that your nervous system needs to remain in balance. Unfortunately, overwhelming stress has become an increasingly common characteristic of contemporary life. When stressors throw your nervous system out of balance, relaxation techniques can bring it back into a balanced state by producing the relaxation response, a state of deep calmness that is the polar opposite of the stress response.
When stress overwhelms your nervous system your body is flooded with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight”. While the stress response can be lifesaving in emergency situations where you need to act quickly, it wears your body down when constantly activated by the stresses of everyday life. The relaxation response puts the brakes on this heightened state of readiness and brings your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium.
The storm before the calm.
When we are stressed the following happens:
- Blood pressure rises
- Breathing becomes more rapid
- Digestive system slows down
- Heart rate (pulse) rises
- Immune system goes down
- Muscles become tense
- We do not sleep (heightened state of alertness)
You may respond best to relaxation techniques that quiet you down, such as meditation, deep breathing, or guided imagery, you may respond best to relaxation techniques that are stimulating and that energize your nervous system, such as rhythmic exercise.
Practicing deep breathing meditation
The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.
1-Sit comfortably with your back straight, Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
2-Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
3-Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
4-Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying on the floor. Put a small book on your stomach, and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.
Practicing progressive muscle relaxation
Before practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation, consult with your doctor if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles.
Most progressive muscle relaxation practitioners start at the feet and work their way up to the face. For a sequence of muscle groups to follow, see the box below.
1-Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
2-Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out in slow, deep breaths.
3-When you’re relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
4-Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
5-Relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
6-Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
7-When you’re ready; shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
8-Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.
.It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended
Tip: Smile even when you don’t feel like it. Your body chemistry changes when you smile and makes you feel better automatically. This will ease the stress of others around you as well.