Everyone experiences stress, both good and bad. Problems begin when one’s body becomes accustomed to, or “tuned” for stress at a heightened level without ever going back to a lower or baseline level. These problems are the result of an over-response to common situations, or events that are out of our control, the hardwired, biological “fight or flight” response. This over-response by the body and brain is involved in the relationship between stress and illness.
A heightened level of stress over the long term can cause damage both physical and mental, including panic attacks, anxiety, headaches, immune system and gastrointestinal disorders, among many others.
Everyone manifests stress in different ways, and everyone can learn to counteract negative stress responses in ways that are most effective for them. The method of stress reduction I teach is a combination of the 6 most widely used professional approaches, including stretching for flexibility, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing, autogenics, imagery, and meditation, with a program developed according to each clients needs.
There are 6 basic types of stress, 3 physiological and 3 psychological, as well as 6 basic types of relaxation techniques, which can counteract the response to stress events. Pick and choose what is good for you and your particular situation or moment. Everyone has a different temperament, personality, needs, situation, and way of manifesting stress.
Sympathetic Nervous response (followed by) Parasympathetic response:
Holding a posture, extended crouching, sitting : Stretching (yoga, calisthenics, dance)
Holding muscles in chronic tension : Progressive Muscle relaxation
Short, shallow, rapid, breaths : Deep Breathing (diaphragmatic)
Autonomic stressed/anxious body sensations : Autogenic Training
Negative self talk, thoughts or emotions : Mindfully Challenge Ideas/Feelings or Imagery
Attention focused, negative or obsessive : Focused/Meditation
Attention divided, multitasking, monkey-mind : Open/Mindfulness
Many people have difficulty managing negative thoughts or patterns of behavior finding self sabotage, anxiety and rumination very difficult to overcome. These four steps are a process or a way to change the structure of thought patterns in the brain, redirecting thought, actions (behavior) or emotion to another way, state or idea.
Notice/Awareness – the ability to notice in the moment the thought, action or emotion to be changed or managed.
Analyze/Understand – looking at the thought, behavior or emotion, possibly understanding the origins, seeing whether it is valid or not, makes sense or not, and can be acted upon or not.
Non-Judgment/Self-Compassion – not demeaning or judging yourself, developing self forgiveness and friendliness.
Letting Go/Relinquishment – of thoughts. emotions, or behaviors. Do or do not do. Accept the emotion. Let the thought float away