500 Word Project – Day 297
5:17 p.m. 24OCT14
A Better Lifestyle – Part Four of Four
The fourth leg of a better lifestyle is to reduce stress. Dr. Terry Wahls used meditation as part of her protocol. There are many ways to reduce stress. Stress reduction must be taken seriously. Stress is usually the underlining cause of almost every disease. Stress must be relieved on a daily basis. I talk about stress fairly often, and I always have one or two people who claim that they are never stressed. Stress is insidious – you don’t know you have it most of the time.
Stress comes from many sources – most external, but many are internally created by your reaction to that stressful person or event you encounter. I tell my audiences to not allow another person or event to control your emotions. Why should you give power to another person to control your life? Why should you allow an event to control you?
Let’s assume you are sitting at a red light and it turns green. You are in a hurry. The car in front of you doesn’t move. Its driver is probably on the phone or texting. You wait a couple seconds and your stress levels increase. You want to honk the horn, but you might think it is too soon to start honking. Your stress levels are increasing and increasing. Finally the car in front of you starts moving – much slower that you like to see. That one event caused stress in your life. Your body has extra cortisol and adrenaline that it didn’t need. If you keep that event in the forefront of your mind, the chemicals of stress will continue to flood your body.
Stress comes with being unhappy in your job, your relationships (family, spouse, coworker, etc.), working long hours, unclear expectations, and a host of other external situations. Life causes stress through the death of a family member, divorce, loss of a job, getting married, moving into a new home, chronic illness or injury, taking care of others – not to mention traumatic events (violence, theft, natural disaster, etc.).
How do you get rid of stress? Simple question with many answers. Dr. Wahls used meditation. It worked for her. Meditation generally is divided into five different types – concentrational, reflective, mindfulness, heart-centered and creative. Concentrational meditation includes Zen, Transcendal Meditation, Om, chakra and others. Reflective meditation embraces the questions of: Who am I? What is my purpose in life? What is my role in the universe?
Mindfulness meditation comprises breathing, awareness, visualization, and other similar techniques. Heart-centered meditation embraces the connection of your heart to your breathing and concentration. Creative meditation focuses on appreciation, joy, happiness, love, patience, etc. Some meditation techniques are done without any noise or disturbances – others include appropriate music.
Stress can be relieved through exercise. During exercise your body chemistry changes. Your brain’s chemistry sees in increase in norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Increases in norepinephrine is thought to calm the centers in your brain that respond the most to depression and anxiety. In yesterday’s blog I covered many others changes in your body’s physiology caused by exercise.
Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) has been written, talked about and preached for decades (even centuries). W. Clement Stone, Dale Carnegie, Elbert Hubbard are just a few of the hundreds who have advocated a positive mental attitude. Your brain cannot contain a negative and a positive thought at the same time. It has to be one or the other.
The example I gave earlier with the car – sitting behind someone at a light who does not move when the light turns green. If instead of becoming upset with the lack of driving skills of the person in front of you, why not purposely change your mind – create a positive or happy thought? Too hard? Especially if you are in a hurry and you need the idiot in front of you to move.
A tip I teach is to simply smile. When you brain has negative emotions it shows on your face. The same with positive emotions – you usually smile or laugh. It’s difficult to conger up a laugh when you don’t feel like it. But it is easy to smile. The muscles in your face will force a positive response back into your brain that will replace the negative response you had a second before. When I have that ‘slow’ person in front of me, I will smile and tell myself to ‘let it go!’ I don’t need the negative emotion or stress caused by a random event in front of me.
The first rule of stress relief should be to remove the person or event causing the stress. I know, it is difficult to remove your boss or other stress-causing person in your life. But, you can ‘let it go’ in advance and not allow the person to control your emotions.
I went to retreat once and learned an easy tip to get rid of ‘people’ stress. The leader told us to write the name of the person who creates stress in your life on the palm of your hand with your index finger. Look at the name. Think of that person and what it is about him or her that upsets you the most. Then literally throw that name into the air above you. You let it go. I didn’t put much credence in it, but I did it anyway. My wife’s boss was one person who irritated me every time I was around her. A couple of weeks later I ran into her and I was amazed that I had no emotional connection – all was neutral. I had done nothing since that retreat except that one event of writing and releasing that person’s name.
What do I use for stress relief other than exercise? I use two things primarily – Pranayamas and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Pranayama is the regulation of breath through various techniques. Nadi Shodhana is the most commonly used technique for stress relief. EFT (also known as Tapping) is a form of psychological acupressure. It is based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments.
Many of our stressors in life come from our core values – those deep-seated beliefs we have such as love, competence, trust, money, security and others. These core beliefs become the rock upon which limiting beliefs are built – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, etc. EFT can be used to remove, reduce or eliminate a specific problem of the moment. However, you can refocus your EFT sessions to repress your core beliefs so that they don’t manifest any emotional intensity to your limiting beliefs and allow you to more easily conquer a specific problem or goal.
I use EFT daily to reduce and remove stress. I find that six to eight minutes is all that is required. Pranayamas usually involve the same amount of time. Meditation can be as little as two minutes or twenty minutes or longer. The issue is not which technique you use, but the daily application of that technique (or techniques). Find one that you are comfortable with and do it – daily.
Stress relief can employ Tai Chi, Yoga, progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing also. It is not limited to a single modality. I can use deep breathing techniques while waiting for a traffic light as easily as I can use EFT or progressive muscle relaxation.
Stress, like toxins, food choices, and inactivity can disrupt your hormonal balance and increase inflammation – two things that create nearly every know disease. Stress affects your DNA by shifting your genes off and on when they should not be. This results in an increased risk of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, neurological problems, mental health problems and autoimmune problems.
Relieving stress results in lowering your: oxygen consumption, respiration, heart rate, depression, anxiety, blood lactate levels and muscle tension. Effective stress relief increases your: blood flow, relaxation, immune system, serotonin levels, energy levels, happiness, clarity and peace of mind. Your brain experiences reduced beta waves which slows down your brain’s data processing and induces a more relaxed environment within your brain.
I’ve written about four different things to give you a better, healthier lifestyle. Select the right kinds of foods to eat (nutritionally balanced), remove toxins from your body, exercise more and remove stress on a daily basis. You might not be able to do the first three for a number of reasons. However, you can reduce stress daily – it is free and it is up to you to do it.
1453 words 5:59 p.m.