We all have the capability to practice stress reduction techniques that help us to manage stress.
(In our last article, we laid the groundwork with Quick Stress Relief Tips is at Your Fingertips)
Let’s get some more practice with some more tips to reduce stress by discovering how to control your nervous system.
Here we go…
Tip #1: Notice the Signs of Stress
Stop and notice your finger tip temperature.
This is may feel like a bit of a challenge…but you can do it!
Before you start your Brief Recovery Exercise (BRE) and following the relaxation exercise you want to track your finger tip temperature.
Now, you could get yourself an indoor and outdoor thermometer at the hardware store and hold the sensor until the temperature registers…
Or if you visited a Biofeedback therapy practice you could receive some home training tools like a small thermometer or temperature dots….
Or (if you have one) you could also use a mood ring…
All you need is some way to register the temperature of your fingers so you can build awareness of what’s going on with your body.
It doesn’t have to be complicated!
You can just touch your finger tips to your neck or the palm of your hand.
It may feel like the temperature change as you are learning these stress management techniques is small and slow in the beginning.
It can take some time to train your nervous system into easing the opening of the blood vessels to allow for more blood to enter your finger tips.
So be patient and allow yourself to feel a little “vulnerable.”
This feeling of vulnerability is just your subconscious mind shifting into a new state.
(And this sense may be a long way from your body’s usual state.)
Don’t worry if it takes some time to feel proficient at this part of your training.
A few days and even a few weeks may be necessary until you are comfortable with this part of your biofeedback training.
Tip #2: Practice, Practice, Practice
Integrating these new ways to reduce stress can take some time.
After all, the negative effects of stress didn’t appear overnight, it can take some time to turn the tide to a health cycle of stress and recovery as well.
Let’s practice your Brief Recovery Exercise (BRE) again.
(Set aside 10-15 minutes for these stress release techniques.)
- First do your BRE and notice and quiet your breath and mind and muscles.
- Next, picture a warm scene in your mind as you keep your breath and muscles calm.
As you do this focus and then re-focus on this warm and peaceful i.e. non-threatening image in your mind over and over again.
Remember there are different ways to practice this.
It can be words, or a calming phrase, and it can be a picture like we talked about in the last article.
- Keep your mind focused on staying calm as you have this thought.
- Practice letting go…remember that you are not trying in this part of the exercise…your mind is simply focusing over and over.
Think of comforting a small child…you repeat the sound of the words or the image over and over…there is comfort in repetition
Tip #3: Ways to Cope with Stress? Do Feed the Animals!
You may have been told as a child to not feed the animals, but when it comes to stress management, feeding the animals can be a powerful visualization to show your subconscious mind how to relieve stress.
Think of it like this:
As a way to keep the mind from getting effortful as you practice this exercise and to keep it in a state of letting go, think of the mind as like a monkey.
In your mind’s eye keep feeding the monkey bananas…over and over.
Take your time and let go…
(This is not the type of mind we use generally when we are driven in the “make it happen” state of mind.)
This visualization puts the mind in a state that asks and then just waits patiently in the “other room.”
It gives your body (which is normally as skittish as a wild deer) time to decide all is OK.
In fact, the way your mind is holding these thoughts is effortless enough to signal safety.
Now even your subconscious mind will get in on the experience.
When your subconscious mind can see that you are exposed to a warm place it will allow the blood vessels to open and you will warm.
It’s pretty simple:
Your fingers won’t warm until this part of your mind feels safe.
There are two things going on here:
First you are teaching your CONSCIOUS MIND to find this mood.
Then you are teaching your BODY how to open your blood vessels when you ask in this particular way.
Tip #4: Use Words as Stress Relievers
Hold the picture for a while in an effortless state.
Next, when you are ready, try some words.
I like thinking in that very calm voice that you know: “safe and warm and safe and warm” over and over.
This gives plenty of “bananas” to the mind to “feed the monkey” as it keeps focused on hearing the words said in that calm way.
This also lets the body’s nervous system decide for itself to how to respond.
With practice, your subconscious mind will know what you want.
And when that part of your mind feels safe enough it will open the blood vessels in your finger tips and allow more blood and with that warming to enter.
Tip #5: How Does Coping With Stress Feel?
Next, focus and refocus on how warming FEELS.
Imagine that feeling of tingling or pulsing or blood flowing that comes with warming and opening of your blood vessels.
At this point, you have moved beyond the OBSERVE part of this exercise and you are now in the ASKING phase.
Look and listen for how your own subconscious mind hears your request best.
- For some of us, our subconscious minds seem more likely to respond to words.
- For some of us, pictures are more effective.
- And for some, it all comes down to a certain “feeling.”
Keep experimenting until you experience the results of stress management.
- It’s definitely not one-size-fits-all.
Sometimes it’s a combination approach that works best using multiple ways of ASKING.
What ever way is effective for you, remember to practice…learn from your body…and practice some more.
That is why it’s called biofeedback i.e. body feedback.
Want to learn more about stress reduction?
Take the first step!
Click here for my Special Report: Biofeedback Training- Discover the Power of Your Mind to Control Your Body
Author: Jinny Joy LaRock, RN, BCB Sr. Fellow