Monday, February 18, 2008

Stress Reduction - a discussion

Identify your stress triggers and learn how to reduce stress and increase energy.

Regain your sanity!

Introduction of stress and what it is and how it feels.

What is stress?
When confronted with a stressful situation, adrenalin starts pumping, your muscles tense, your senses heighten. Your body is primed to deal with stress in two ways – fight with your utmost strength and energy, or run away as fast as possible. It helps you by giving you energy, quickens your response rate, your mind is sharper and clearer. If you recognise the sense in your body and move with the energy release you can enhance performance in whatever you do.

As its part of my job, I’m practising awareness of stress in my daily life, and observing stress in others. I’m quick to see the obvious effects in my family and friends, in people I see down the street, in films and, as I travel, in people from different cultures.
When, as a teenager, I began to understand the effects stress was having on me, I quickly began to research methods to alleviate the problem. I was suffering severe migraines and had already been on daily ‘what if’ painkillers for two years before I understood how important it was for me to take responsibility for my own health.
I was stressed about the world in general. I felt unsafe and uncomfortable. I was angry and unreasonable, bitter and hurt. And these emotions compounded into insufferable migraines where at 17 years of age I was laying on a bed, unable to move my head for the pain of a hint of the dimmest light or the slightest noise produced.
I began to facilitate awareness of stress triggers.

Now, the problem is not stress itself. Its when the fight or flight response is engaged too often that we see the adverse effects. Bodies can only take so much stress and if you take too much your body and mind will break down. Maybe you’ll get sick, collapse from exhaustion, or loose enthusiasm. Our day to day world constantly bombards us with stressful situations. Our culture rewards those working under pressure. We want over achievers, high powered, assertive and I can do any thing types.

Where does stress come from?
What events typify your stress trigger?

Stress Triggers include
- thoughts (power of the mind),
- memories (negativity is usually translated as heaviness in the body)
– cars
- demands
- deadlines
- children,
- guilt
- money
- bills
- parents
- then the pressure of the social world
- what we look like

The list is endless and customised for each person.

Does the stress comes from outside of us? -from other people or things we can’t control? Ask yourself if you can honestly do anything about it?
And the answer is, often, no.
so… if we can’t change what is happening to us, what do we have control over?
Our selves and our reactions. Our responses.

What happens when your body begins to stress?

The immediate effects include
increase heat
begin to sweat
heart rate increases
internal focus, senses heightened
urge to urinate
breath quickens and becomes shallow
pupils dilate
muscle tension – stomach, shoulders, hands

In the long term, stress contributes to
poor sleeping patterns and/or insomnia
head aches
heart palpitations
hypertension- high blood pressure which can cause arteries to harden, kidney damage
blood flow increases to muscles and brain

Questions to answer.
How do you currently deal with stress?
What does stress make you feel?
What relaxes you?

Why reduce stress?
Because its detrimental to health, work and relationships. Stress reduces interest in sex, decreases vitality.
Reducing stress in the work place will increase production and your analyzing skills will improve.
Your family, relationships will improve- decrease in anger, frustration – increase in appreciation. Observational skills will improve.

Introducing the mind/body relationship
– postural signatures – body language – holding tension in the body
How are you sitting now?
Recognizing other people’s postural habits as a way to see your own.
When we learn to tune into our bodies, we can recognize stress immediately.
We can decrease stress physically. The mind and body relationship is powerful.
Emotional states have their physical correlation. Physical states create emotion. Its been suggested that the memory of emotions are not located in the brain, but in patterns of proprioceptive activity in the muscles… for example – one’s experiences are literally embodied. Postural signatures, our reactions to stress are learnt, learnt, learnt! And then memorized and repeated.

Understand the relationship between your mind and body. How positivity, like happiness, makes us feel good, and how worry creates tension and pain. Is this true?

Activate self responsibility and self awareness.

Some stress management options
Massage, (Self massage; scalp, forehead, cheeks, eyes, mouth, neck, shoulders, hands feet)
Atmosphere (lights, aroma, music, colours)

Relaxation Exercise

Lie down or lean back in a comfortable chair. Yours hands are loose by your sides. Close your eyes. Clear your mind of thoughts. Smile from inside. Take several breaths. Slow and relaxed. Smile from inside your heart.

Repeat to yourself ‘I am going to enjoy deep relaxation for five minutes. When I come out of the meditation I will feel fresh and calm.’

When you feel that five minutes are over, gently stretch your body awake. Open your eyes. Massage your face. You will feel fresh and calm. Practise this daily for the greatest benefits.

It is not stress that is the problem.
It’s how we handle stress that needs attention.

Stress down combining elements from stretch, breathing awareness and visualization techniques
How do you deal with stress? Think about a situation - - -
Learn about yourself. Know thyself. – you hold the key to your greatest journey, your greatest discoveries. The unknown territory of the self.
What relaxes you?
Can you think of ways you could deal with stress that would be more ideal? Humour?

Points to consider in reducing stress.
Place options into temporary and long term solutions.
Self time
Holidays (get a way from the ordinary stress triggers)
Massage (release of muscle tension)
Exercise releases positive endorphins in the body, creating a high, known to reduce stress
Relationships - loving, supporting, caring, sex…
Pet – love, caring
Guidance /counseling – pool of humanity, learning from each other, finding the right guide.
Identifying where stress is coming from
What situations trigger stress
Affirmations. Note! The subconscious doesn’t know you’re joking…. What is your self description- the main thing you heard as a child- you’ve heard it over and over until it’s the truth. Recreate your self image using self affirmations – golden rule – in the present tense.
Time management
Music sensory
Shopping – feels good at the time. Temporary. Can become an addiction. Self mirrored in possessions…
Drugs – temporary, addiction, can help people through certain periods in their life. .difficult stages
Partying – escape… abandonment , giving up of responsibility
Escape/movies – escape/leisure
Sauna – relaxation, heat takes tension out of the body, relieves muscles
Retreats – most common problem is learning to bring what we have learnt from a retreat into the ‘real’ world. Useful. Inspirational.
Reinforce your learning
express gratitude
singing shouting affirmations
enjoying exercise
love of the self
valuing the self
mental imagery
Keeping a diary – reviewing the day


Stretching is one of the most efficient ways of exploring ourselves and our inner states. You will experience yourself in the present as each instant goes by.. As you practice, you are remaking proprioceptive maps of yourself, and you are finding new ways to resolve those places in your body that suffer the reactions to the stresses of daily life.

Yoga - some mental stress can be physically worked out in the asanas. Concentrating on body awareness during asana practice gives a mental break from worrying about other things… long savasana releases mental and physical tension. Pranayama calms the nervous system.
If you practice asanas close to your edge, you can momentarily boost the sympathetic nervous system (involved in flight or fight response) and therefore you are dealing with stress in a safe, controlled way. With conscious breathing. . . then you follow up with restorative poses- you then activate the rest and repair response from the parasympathetic nervous system … you become calm and relaxed. Heart beat slows, respiration steadies, blood pressure drops. Stress hormones are decreased and healing mechanisims in the body are turned on.

Qigong emphasis on posture and breathing accounts for reduction in muscular tension and stress. Practitioners report greater ability to cope with fear and anxiety. Physical benefits are reflected in their mental attitude. Helps to neutralize stress, rather than resist it. Qigong practitioners report less tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion and anxiety – they feel more vigorous and had less mood disturbances. Boosts the immune system, maximizes the body’s full potential to regenerate healthy cells which slow the aging process. Promotes deep acceptance and self awareness.

Self responsibility and self awareness.
Write down some words: home, family, work, self (desires, needs, wants), social, study, leisure
Then put that group into sub divisions, for example - Home – children, cleaning, cooking, responsibility
What produces unproductive stress for you?

Then, write up an ideal scenario – write up a way to get it.

Discussing what self esteem is based on.
Learning patterns from parents… we thought out parents knew what they were doing - they didn’t. Welcome to the greatest myth of childhood - Responsible Parents. Self must be responsible for the self’s actions and life style

Mind control – Why? How? Exercises.
Why self awareness – higher awareness, participation and observation of life.
Increases opportunities, Observing the self in action. Feels good, no – feels great! Vision is clearer, our ears open to listen, our eyes open to see.
Increasing self awareness – why? (no longer random, you choose, environment no, but your response..)
Perspective – artist
Stretching the body stretches the mind. Using the different tools to create the same outcome – self awareness, balance, clarity of thought, deeper insight, enhanced creativity. ‘yoga offers a a safe environment to challenge yourself – to your own limit.’
become aware of the chatterbox…. Incessant criticizing, talking, observing, judging good and bad.. /proud of our chatterbox (wit, personality)-----?
Turn off the chatterbox. When its gone you experience happiness without labeling it as such. It turns off naturally when you are immersed in being rather than thinking of being….
How? Through self awareness. Breath control…

Step one – self awareness through exercise. Getting to know the body, the breath, feeling your body talking to you. Listening! Respect / love – of the self.
Step two – becomes second nature. The mind stills, observes, and vision becomes clear, uncluttered, focused – all senses heightened – yet the body is involved with everything and still the mind is still peaceful, being- aiming to increase this feeling for longer periods each day.

Stress down combining elements from stretch, breathing awareness and visualization techniques
Consider spinal awareness, feldankrais, pilates, mensendik…..

Pointers to remember
Learn to delegate and prioritize (don’t make others helpless and needy by your need to organise and be in control)
Learn to recognise your stress triggers and how to deal with them. Knowledge is power!
Is your self esteem based on looks, or possessions, and what you do… rather than being? Focus on being.
Retain a child’s ability to be joyful

Where does bound less energy come from?
Because when we love to do it, nothing is difficult.

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