Do you feel like the symptoms of stress are always present in your life?
Could relaxation techniques really give you the help you need for managing stress…once and for all?
Well, if you have been following our articles you know these two things:
1. First of all, stress itself is OK…
2. But prolonged stress is definitely NOT OK!
In fact, prolonged stress can start you on the road to illness, such as headaches, high blood pressure and sleep problems.
Let’s face it!
Your body will decide its own way of dealing with stress such as anxiety or difficulty with managing your mind and emotions if you don’t provide healthy alternatives to relieve stress.
How can you turn this around?
The answer is as simple as understanding the natural laws of stress management…
The Law of Breath:
How you breathe changes with stress.
One of the stress coping mechanisms that a stressed body will use is to take shallow breaths that begin in the chest and take effort.
In contrast, a person in a relaxed state will generally take deeper breaths beginning in the belly that require much less conscious effort.
You might even say when you are in recovery/relaxation mode, your breathing is effortless!
The Law of Muscle Tension:
Your muscle behavior changes with stress.
When you are under pressure, one of the ways that all of our bodies have of dealing with stress is to tighten your muscles…you are readying to fight or run…you will notice shoulders pulling up or forward or both
Often the jaw becomes tight and clenched which seems to have to do with looking threatening to a potential enemy
You can also see the negative effects of stress in other people by observing their jaw and shoulder muscles.
- Is their jaw “set”?
- Are their shoulders elevated “as-if” to protect their neck in battle?
Or instead have they learned how to relax and recover from stress?
- Is their jaw relaxed with their teeth not touching?
- Are their shoulders loose and in a dropped position?
(It seems unfair that these telltale signs of muscle behavior can change even without your conscious awareness, but that is how we are designed…much of how our bodies prepare for battle/stress lies outside our conscious awareness…UNTIL we take the time to learn and notice…like you are doing right now.)
And don’t worry…
You Have a Choice
Here’s the great news!
Yes, you have a choice!
You can harness these “laws of nature” to your advantage and use these three stress reductions tips:
1. Get informed about relaxation techniques, such as biofeedback training
2. Learn stress management tools
3. Repeat the new “stress buster” behavior until the healthy responses to stress become second nature…this won’t take long to guide your body into a new habit.
OK, up to this point, you have gotten information about how to handle stress and learned new tools for coping with stress…
Now is time to begin the repetition of new behavior with some practical stress reduction tips.
Practicing and repetition is how these new choices become your new and healthy habit!
Stress Reduction Tips
Here’s your first stress relief tip:
Get some reminder dots or stickers, like file dots, smiley faces or stars.
Or put a pop-up timer on your computer or install a timing app like 30/30.
If you are using stickers or dots, put them around your world at work, at home and in your car.
Put them in enough places that you are assured to see at least one about every 30 minutes or so.
Set your pop-up or 3/30 app so you are reminded every 30 minutes.
You may decide to use reminders in your world like every time you hear a bell or see a color like red.
When you see or hear one of these “gentle reminders” (or as you become aware that you are chest breathing or your muscles feel tight)……make the CHOICE to do your BRIEF RECOVERY EXERCISE (your conscious mind is guiding your body out of stress into recovery)
Think of your breath and muscles and:
- Notice how you are breathing and then shift to slow belly breathing.
- Notice your muscles and focus in especially on your jaw and shoulders and LET GO of tension…unclench your jaw and drop your shoulders.
Also let go of tension in any area you feel it…especially check on areas where you have pain or have suffered an injury or surgery, your muscles will likely tighten to guard your vulnerable areas…this is natural and of course not something you want to go on much longer!
Be aware of the signs of stress and then shift to relaxation/recovery mode.
Let it go!
Moving Into the Mind…
In Part II of our series, we are going to build on these first two laws of effective stress management by adding information and skills about how your mind affects your stress levels.
Want to learn more relaxation techniques?
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