by Barbara Stevens
Stress comes in many forms—anger, worry, mental or emotional strain, anxiety, pressure, tension, fearful, uncertain, upset, troubled, hassled, incensed, dejected, frazzled and agitated—and has myriad effects on our body, mind, and emotions. If stress is left unmanaged, it can lead to illness and take away the ability to control our impulses of overreacting and overeating. Here are some simple ways to regain control, take charge and do even more things to keep stress at bay in the first place.
Come into the moment: Looking around and truly noticing the details of our immediate environment gives us more impulse control, and we will begin to respond instead of react. The empowerment to change a habit, reaction or craving comes from this place of “now”. Practice this technique three times a day, especially when we don’t need it, so it is available when we need it.
Take time to feel good: Pick one of these feelings—comfortable, relaxed, expansive, supported, respected, understood, confident, hopeful, playful, peaceful, safe. Experience this feeling for the next three breaths and let each breath be bigger, brighter and more in focus. Allow the feeling to flow through us, expanding as we breath in, relaxing into the feeling as we exhale.
Sixty seconds of focusing on positive feelings creates encouraging changes in the body and the mind. A song remembered, the memory of a person that is special to us can help recall these empowering states of mind. Practice three times a day. The one minute we spend on this will change the rest of our day.
Create a special place: Imagine a safe, restorative place in nature at our favorite time of year at the best time of day. Think about the sounds we hear and the temperature. Add as much detail as possible. Whether the place is real or imagined, the mind responds to the beauty and positive emotions that are created by endorphins, feel-good drugs manufactured in our bodies that heal and uplift. We can use this special place to renew, refocus, let go of fear, gain confidence, or whatever we need. No matter where we are physically or emotionally, this special place is always accessible, just a deep breath away.
Increase water consumption: According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly all of the major systems in the body depend on water, especially the brain.
Cut down on sugar and caffeine: The American Heart Association suggests no more than 24 grams of added sugar a day. That means all the whole fruits and vegetables we want. However, an eight-ounce glass of orange juice is 30 grams, and a six-ounce flavored yogurt is 32 grams, and both contribute added sugar. Begin keeping track of sugar consumption. Caffeine releases adrenaline, our fire starter. It gets the stress process going and it is a diuretic. At the very least, replace the water that it is leaching from the body.
We can turn the energy drain of stress into the expansive strength of possibilities. Make each success a celebration and each miss a lesson, easily learned and transformed into understanding.
Barbara Stevens, owner of Stress Techniques, is certified by the International Association of Counselors and Therapists in stress management, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and hypnosis. For more information, call 518-755-5053 or visit StressTechniques.com.