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31 Jul
2012
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Seven Quick Stress Reduction Tips

Everyone suffers from stress or anxiety at times. For some people though it seems like life has taken a dislike to them and the problems start to pile up. Then the stress begins to take its toll. Each day becomes more and more difficult to get through, and the mind is filled with anxious thoughts.

At such times frequently all that’s needed is a short respite, a few minutes peace. For in that peace, solutions begin to emerge and the body has a chance to recover physically from the damage the stress is causing.

If you use these tips regularly you will find that you start to become master of your mind and that you discover the ability to direct its energy to something more useful than worrying. Despite what you may think, worrying is never helpful, and never changes anything. Action changes things. So take action now. Just pick the one you most like the sound of and do that as soon as you finish reading about it.

Breathing

Move your awareness to your breathing. Then gently allow your breath to deepen. Push your abdominal muscles out to pull air into the lower parts of your lungs. Then pull those muscles in to expel that air. Do this slowly to a count of four in and four out, and as that becomes comfortable increase to a count of 6. If it feels comfortable hold the breath for a count of 2, and then 3. Do this for at least a couple of minutes.

Laughter

Bring to mind a humorous memory. Find some jokes on facebook. Watch a DVD that makes you laugh out loud, and if you don’t have one, buy one.

Norman Cousins, a journalist, was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. His doctor estimated his chance of survival as 1 in 500. Cousins did three things. He checked himself out of hospital because he didn’t want to be in that negative atmosphere. He took high doses of vitamin C. Finally he hired a movie projector and loads of films that made him laugh (this was back in 1964 so home video hadn’t been invented yet). Blood tests before and after his bouts of belly laughter showed a significant lowering of markers for inflammation.

Within just a few weeks he was back at work and continued to recover as he laughed his way back to health. So please do not dismiss the therapeutic power of laughter.

Meditation

Meditation, even just ten minutes twice a day, is incredibly powerful. There are many techniques you can use. You can meditate in silence focused on your breath, repeat a mantra, or listen to a guided meditation on Cd. Personally I either listen to a guided meditation or use Kirtan Kriya meditation.

Music

Whatever your favourite music is, play it through headphones loud enough to drown out your thoughts, and if it moves you to move or dance then let it happen. Just be mindful of your hearing with the volume.

Now

Just ask yourself this question. “Am I alright NOW?” Now being the very moment of asking the question. Not the moment, the minute, the hour, the day, the week, before. Not the moment, the minute, the hour, the day, the week, after. The exact moment of asking the question.

Answer the question either yes or no, and then ask the question again. Keep repeating this until your mind has quietened down. Don’t get into a debate. Ask the question. Answer it. Ask the question…

A variation on this is to ask yourself “What am I aware of NOW?” Then in the moment of asking the question allow yourself to become aware of whatever it is that you are most aware of. It could be a sound, a sensation, something in your visual field… anything at all. Then let that go and ask the question again. Repeat until peace returns to your mind.

Walking

Walking is great exercise, but as you walk, look at the beauty that surrounds you. Just notice what you pass – the small as well as the large. On my walks I will stop to smell a flower, enjoy a vista, visually explore an interesting piece of architecture, listen to the birds, feed or stroke a horse, make friends with a dog. Last night a friend pulled up next to me and we had a pleasant chat for half an hour or so. It wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed indoors.

Yoga

Yoga is a discipline that has huge psychological and physical benefits. Quite a few years ago now I attended three classes a week and I’ve never been as fit and flexible in my life as I was then. But attending a class isn’t really what I have in mind. Get a DVD, or do some online research and find a simple five or ten minute routine that you can do each day. My favourite is the Hymn to the Sun (Sun Salutation, surya namaskara) performed each morning. It incorporates several postures and really lifts the spirit for the day.

 

These are simple things that anyone can do, all it takes is a desire to move away from the endless cycle of worry and consequent build up of stress and stress symptoms. As I mentioned earlier, there will be no change until you take positive action. Above you have seven simple things you can do that will make a difference instantly. When you do these things on a regular basis your life will begin to change, until eventually you start to get a taste of Freedom.

Let me know how you get on.

Michael

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