Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Address the stress!


I seem to continuously have the same conversation with my students on a regular basis and it revolves around Stress. So I feel like it's appropriate to bring it up here.

If we understand that stress is inevitable in our lives (which it is), than the big question we need to ask ourselves is, "What are you doing to manage your stress?"

Stress shows up in our lives for many different reasons like financial stress, grieving over a loss (death, job, house etc..), choatic work schedule, unhealthy relationships, or an illness or injury. It also affects our body, mind and emotions. Most common symptoms when under stress are, raised blood pressure, increase heart rate, head ache, insomnia or chronic fatigue, digestive issues, nervousness, anxiety, lack of motivation or interest in activities you used to enjoy, to name a few.

Now what you might not know is that not all stress is bad. We need stress to help us get out of bed in the morning, to be productive and do the things we need to do to put food in our fridge and a roof over our heads. Stress also helps us react in a dangerous situation, like when the car in front of you slams on their breaks or you come across a rattlesnake when walking the golf course. 

Doctors call this Acute stress. "Acute stress is the type of stress you experience when you have an immediate reaction to something you're presented with". Alan Henry

Acute stress is usually manageable and goes away once the situation has been resolved. The issue of most concern is when stress become Chronic. Chronic stress occurs when the stressor is unresolved. This is most common in situations, for example when you are in an unhappy relationship and it's affecting all aspects of your life. Another example would be that you dislike your job, or you're living pay check to pay check and you can't seem to get ahead. There are many different scenarios or complicated situations that arise when under this kind of chronic stress. 


The important part and generally speaking "first step" is to recognize what type of stress you're under and then be proactive with the steps you take to "de-stress". The antecdote to stress is REST.

Power of the BREATH
One of my favorite ways to de-stress is with deep breathing. Your parasympathetic nervous system (the system that helps you de-stress) is connected to your exhale breath. So when you're stressed if you commit to take a 10 second breath break and inhale to the count of 4 and exhale to the count of 6, you'll notice a significant reduction in your stress levels. If you can do this longer and daily you'll experience even more benefits.

Joyful Movement
For some people, movement is the best way to release stress. Heard people say "Shake it off". When you move your body, especially when doing an activity you enjoy, like Zumba or running or Yoga (of course). The body releases endorphins and seratonin when excerising, two hormones that increase your mood, assist with sleep and can block feelings of pain. 

Relaxation
We sometimes assume that relaxation is a simple task (in a way it is), something that we all know how to do, yet in my experience (guiding people through relaxation) this is not the case. Most people that I come across find relaxation challenging. They are unaware of how to do it and sometimes underestimate the power of it. My absolute favorite way to relax is with restorative yoga or yoga nidra (which means yoga sleep). So don't underestimate the power of your Shavasana (corpse pose). Give deep relaxation a try with THIS CLASS on YOGO.tv from the amazing Tianne Bernard.

There's no exact equation to eliminate stress. However there's a right equation for YOU. It's just a matter of acknowledging the stress you are under and recognizing the choices you have in managing it. So for the sake our of health, our well being and overall happiness, may we continue to explore and discover ways in which we can de-stress.

With you on this path,
Lauren






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