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Saturday, March 23 2013
Stress has become a common topic of conversation. The discussion is often: “I am so stressed out, I don’t have time to do anything!” “My job is so stressful!” It is usually followed by a list of examples that make it seem completely unmanageable. Although stress can be negative or positive, the physical effects are the same. Seldom do we hear people discussing ways to deal with stress. Perhaps it is because no one knows how, or everyone just feels helpless and resigned to be over-stressed. Most people don't realize that telling themselves how stressed they are, actually increases their stress. Your unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy, so the more you tell yourself how stressed you are, the more stressed you feel. Try telling yourself something else like, “I feel stressed but I can control how it affects me.” I call it self -talk, or self -hypnosis! You actually have a choice of how you view your stress. You cannot control the world around you, but you have 100% control of how you allow it to affect you. Stress is a very natural part of life. Without stress, we would be bored to death. However, prolonged stress is disruptive to many of our bodily functions, creating various health problems. I will provide ways to reduce your stress, but they only work if you use them!
Stress can be managed or coped with. Managing stress is done when you have too much to do don’t seem to have enough time to do it. Actually, there is always enough time, as time does not change. Your perception that there is not enough time creates stress. Procrastinating or misallocating time is often the problem. There are many time wasters and we all know what they are. There are ways you can manage time. Planning and organizing are the two most obvious things that most people don't do. Taking 15 minutes once a week to prioritize and plan important tasks can relieve a lot of stress as well as put a proper perspective on the tasks at hand. Delay, delegate, delete or do what you can and don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember, of course, it is all small stuff!
Coping with stress is different. It’s used for immediate relief because you feel adrenaline pumping through you creating a feeling of panic or emergency. Step 1: Stop the adrenaline or use it. Using it is requires exercise. Playing a sport, dancing or working out are fun ways to exercise. Shutting off adrenaline is accomplished by taking 3 deep, slow breaths. Other coping methods include meditation, yoga, taking a hot bath, listening to music, dancing, napping and self-hypnosis. Having fun and maintaining healthy, close relationships are general stress reducers. Studies have shown that our brains and bodies are healthier when we are with close friends.
It’s not the amount of stress that’s a problem, its what you do, or don’t do about it. If you do nothing, stress will control your life. If you change your perspective, or use any of the above suggestions, you will enjoy a happier, healthier, longer life.
Sunday, March 17 2013
Stress or Anxiety? How do I know? Everyone who lives and breathes experiences stress. Your problems are not from the amount of stress you have, but how you handle it. Stress is annoying, but anxiety is debilitating. Stress is responsible for everything from headaches to cancer. It is blamed for short tempers and bad manners. It is blamed for poor sleep and infertility. I could go on because the list is infinite. So, is it worth spending a few minutes learning how stress is affecting your life, your relationships and your health? Stress is your response to stressors; things that are happening that are bothersome, whether real or imagined. Anxiety is the stressful feeling from that stays long after the stressor has stopped. My anxious clients have told me that they feel so scared that they think they are going to have a heart attack or die. Anxiety is a fear that usually has its roots in something that happened before age 10. Although you survived it and its over, the memory of it is there, and seems to take on a life of its own. You actually become afraid of the feeling of fear. It is triggered by anything or nothing, creating more fear. Consciously you have no idea what the initial event was but it remains in your unconscious mind. Although there are medications for anxiety, hypnosis is the most effective way to eliminate it completely by re-educating the unconscious mind that it has passed and you are safe. It is not necessary to live with anxiety and don't believe anyone that says you have to be on medication for anxiety for the rest of your life. What if they are wrong? Until you have explored all your options, don't accept a "rest of your life" response for anything! It is also important to note that depression is very different from anxiety. They sometimes seem to come together, but they are separate conditions and issues. You can find many definitions of 'stress' but the one that I will use here is, the body's response to change. The change can be anything from a bell ringing to someone cutting you off while you're driving. I know you have a million more. The only way your body deals with this change is to release adrenaline into your system. This adrenaline creates a series of chemical reactions in your body that affects every cell, organ and muscle. The purpose of these reactions is to make you stronger and faster to deal with the ?danger'. If you were a skunk, every time you were stressed, everyone around you would immediately know. So, there is something to be said for a little adrenaline. At least it doesn't stink! The stress reactions that occur range from heart pounding, fast breathing and sweating, to dry mouth, tense muscles and many systems of the body postponing their functioning until the event passes. When you have constant stress your body never gets a chance to go back to ?normal'. Without getting too technical, the point is that systems like immune, digestion and reproduction temporarily suspend activity during a state of stress. When you remain in a stressful state for prolonged periods of time your body systems do not function properly, creating illness, discomfort, disease and much more. The release of adrenaline is referred to as the flight or fight response. If you are running away from something scary or need to fight, as soon as you are 'safe' everything returns to normal. However, there are times when you can't run and you can't fight. At those times, you ?freeze' and all that adrenaline gets pushed down into the body instead of being used up. Over time, this builds up and creates a state of stress that you become used to. The consequence of this state is what feels so uncomfortable. The effects on the body are very profound. Blood pressure rises because your heart is pumping harder, muscles stay tense causing neck, back or shoulder pain, those systems that were mentioned before are not working well and you feel pain or discomfort all over. Many people hold their stress in their gut resulting in digestive issues, often referred to as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Some hold their stress in their neck and shoulders creating headaches and neck pain. Fibromyalgia is a good example of a relatively new diagnosis that means stress and pain all over your body. When you learn to reduce or control the stress, everything begins to feel better. You cannot control the world around you but you have 100% control of how you allow it to affect you! The following is an abridged list of the conditions that are created or aggravated by stress; infertility, colds and flu, headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, anger, irrational thoughts and fears, weight gain, heart problems and many others. Medical doctors are generous in offering medications to relieve the symptoms but there are side effects to every drug you use. The next article will have details about managing and reducing stress but here are some tips to get you started: Learn to take deep, yoga like breaths. This shuts off the adrenaline and gives you instant relief. Exercise. Any exercise from dancing and walking to yoga and gym workouts will burn off the unneeded adrenaline. Change your self-talk to positive affirmations. Sometimes we create our own stress with negative thoughts. Meditate or visualize relaxing places or experiences with your eyes closed and imagine you are there. This will immediately change the way you feel. Listen to music that is calming and relaxing. And.have fun! If you need help or coaching through this process seek out help. Once you learn new ways to handle stress, you gain control of your life and health! Hypnosis is very effective for reducing stress and helping you reframe those things that are creating stress in your life. Fern Tausig is a certified hypnotist, life coach, motivational speaker and health educator. She can be reached at 203-283-4567
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