- Mental Health»
Some Stress Reducing Techniques
It comes in many forms, and we aren't going to talk about the physical that an engineer may deal with. It can come from Job hunting, coworkers, driving in traffic, time pressure, relationships, your children's health, and their actions.
It has been found people who showed an abnormal response to mental stress suffered a cardiac event within the next five years - twice that of a normal response. A flare up of temper raises your heart rate, and blood pressure. Also if your heart is weak, the chances triple over a healthy heart.
Emotional stress also impairs the immune system. Also your Cholesterol levels go up to.
So the objectives can be getting or staying in shape, and learning to let go or relaxing.
Write your problems out.
How we handle the stress is going to determine how our body reacts, and our mental attitude. There is a prayer like this:
"Lord help me to change the things that need to be changed, & not to change the things that don't need to be changed, & especially Lord, help me to know the difference!"
It is a very good proverb, and one of the things we can do is to try and determine those things that stress us and classify them. Those you have control over and those you don't, and to know the difference. As a stress reduction exercise Write them down.
Learning or able to relax has been shown to increase the activity of natural killer cells.
Breathing: Sit comfortably, straight, and tall, become aware of your breathing. Use deep abdominal breathing. Take deep breaths and relax your muscles. Do this several times a day, and develop it as a habit when stress comes on. (sounds like the adage of counting to ten -slowly). This helps to relieve your anxiety.
Regular bedtimes and the bedroom is off limits for work. Avoid the alcohol, caffeine, tobacco or anything else that has negative affects on your sleep. Calm down, don't engage in something agitating before retiring. A good night's sleep helps your body to rejuvenate, you approach the problems of your new day with a fresh mind.
Slow Down life's pace:
Do we really need to driving at break neck speeds. Do we need to do 20 things in the next five hours or can things be better scheduled out. When going anyplace is it really necessary to get there and die trying? Prioritizing tasks and needs can help to focus on what is more important, and items that can wait if time just plain runs out.
Some things for slowing down:
- Do you always need to answer the phone now? or can it ring a few times? or go to Voice Mail? In my personal life I have resolved that the phone doesn't rule me, if I want to answer it I will, and at my speed. There is a fiend I know that views the phone as an intruder at times, like someone just interrupting your conversation.
- Say grace or take a pause at the table before you start eating. Savor your food, and enjoy the various tastes longer.
- Take a break just when you get home, stay in the car an extra 5 minutes or so in your driveway or parking spot. Just relax, and ease from your work day and road warrior to you home. This I have found beneficial, a time without no pressure, you aren't moving or driving, no workers or boss, no distractions, no family problems or issues to deal with. It gets you changed over.
- Take your time driving, drive 10 miles per hour slower than you normally do, (most people drive above the speed limit anyways). Choose this if you will not overly affect other drivers. On the open roads, this is something I do, but if on busy interstate, the speed limit or traffic flow which ever is less is fine (better still I look for a quieter route).
A little Relaxation for extreme stress.
The kind that can be petted or loved a little (cats, dogs, ferrets, so on). Especially dogs, these creatures when treated right: taken for walks, feed and cared for give their loyalty unflinching to their masters. You can unload a lot on them by talking, and they just listen, and just might give you a paw.
Get a Plant or Plants:
Why? It has been shown in a study that people who stared at a plant for two minutes experienced a 20% increase in alpha waves. Whereas looking at an abstract sculpture had no effect, and a plain white panel some rise in alpha waves. There is something about being connected with the real nature or creation. You can have a room that looks totally real but everything is fake - plants are fake, recorded sounds of animals, a painted sky and then put people in the true real environment and the response is different. One has life and one has not.
Be more sociable:
If you want friends be more friendly. Isolation allows us to concentrate more on our own problems, and continues the negative thinking. Thus intensifying it. Doing volunteer work, (in one study it was found men who did not do volunteer work had twice the death rate of men who did). Volunteer work is being unselfish, giving of your self, their are benefits to helping others. Christ's saying "No greater love a friend has for a friend than to lay down his life for that friend".
Doing something for others has it's rewards, and they may not happen now.
When we laugh, our blood flow to the brain is increased, endorphins (well being sense - hormones) are released and levels of stress hormones drop dramatically.
Author Norman Cousins used this fight a crippling and irreversible form of arthritis. He rented funny movies each day, and laughed as much as possible. The end result, the disease went into remission and he outlived all medical expectations.
Make a decsion or being more assetive:
This gives you more feeling of being in control. Now this works only as outlined at the beginning, those problems which you can control or affect.
In being more assertive it's not necessarily more aggressive. But more in opening up yourself. Like:
- Asking for information - there's no such thing as a foolish question if you really don't know.
- Initiate conversations with others
- Concentrate on making your desires and needs known to others - sometimes just asking for help can change a lot of things.
- Be friendly and initiate friendships
- Give out and accept compliments
- Speak up when you think it is needed.
It has been said that music calms the beast. The Psalmist David calmed King Saul. "And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."
Now not all kinds of music are suitable to relax by. Some work to rose the emotions, or inspire. Why before going out to war in ancient times did they have music played? Or the War dances of natives? The better music is instrumental, light classical, or sounds of nature. Something to soothe your chattered nerves.
A Few other Ideas
A few other great stress reducers.
Being the Perfectionist:
This is not only hard on yourself but others too. Nothing is ever good enough. You've got to ace all your exams, no mistakes are allowed, so on. Life is full of changes and events and people will always make mistakes even with the very best of intentions. For someone like this the best is to concentrate the perfectionism on a very select few things.
Consider God, or rededicating your life:
One can scoff all they want, and yes there are hypocrites. But hypocrites exist everywhere, so what. Being religious puts you in the frame of mind of prayer (meditation), letting things go, a community, a place for volunteer work, a service for others. In all this will you substantially reduce your odds of dying before 70.
It has been found that marriage reduces the risk of premature death by 50% up to the age of 70. Here in a good relationship it is about living for others, sharing one's life, helping each other, a way to forget stress from one's work. How living together works or figures in I can't say. As a caveat on marriage, the studies may show the reduction, but it would be interesting to see how this breaks out on two, three, or more times married too.
Of course their is family stress, but keeping the communication lines open, doing things together, and being loyal friends are stress reducers.
Some other tidbits that can help:
Less TV or better still get rid of it.
Avoid stress inducing shows: depressing or violent. Look for uplifting, proactive educational programs. News reduce it, maybe traffic reports for the daily drive.
Keep Work at Work.
Stay late if needed to finish. Or if working from home set time limits.
Can do attitude:
This puts a feeling of control over certain issues.
You can't climb Mt Everest today, but a hill today and a bigger one tomorrow will achieve great results.
Stop and Smell the flowers:
This isn't just a cute saying. But stop an appreciate the little things around you. A beautiful flower, a stately tree, a gorgeous sunset, fresh snow on the ground, ... This breaks us away from our regular routine,
Finally as Abraham Lincoln said:
"Most folks are about as happy as they choose to be"