With the stress that everyone is experiencing in today’s world, I felt that it would be appropriate to bring some relief to those who would be willing to practice some of the points that will be made in this article. Stress management is a term that is more often misunderstood and sometimes even feared by some than appreciated and practiced by most. Unfortunately, in our society, we are of the belief that we can change anything that we don’t like (and do it instantly to boot). Hamburgers can be served within a period of seconds; we can take a pill to cure a headache or depression – all of which can be accomplished with very little effort.
Did I say ‘unfortunately’? Many of those accomplishments and many other “instant” type accommodations that we can look to are fine, and in some cases, a godsend. However, we have not been taught or even exposed to the fact that our minds and bodies have built-in mechanisms that few of us are aware that can help us with the effects of stress in our lives. THAT’S RIGHT … BUILT IN. How we think, how we breathe, how we perceived our lives and the circumstances that befall us – all of these are mechanisms that we can use in order to minimize the effects of stress on our lives. This does not necessarily mean that we can change the situations or people who might be creating the stress but we can control ourselves and our lives.
Let’s try a brief relaxation exercise right now. After reading this paragraph, stop reading and follow the following instructions. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for about one minute. Simply get the ‘feeing’ of your breathing which many of us take for granted. Now try to slow your breathing down to a comfortable level. This might mean that you will be breathing less frequently and more deeply than you had been. Be sure that you feel comfortable and continue to focus on your breathing
Now, let’s talk about what happened. When we slow our breathing down, se diminish our RESPIRATION RATE or the amount of oxygen that we take into our lungs, our HEART RATE and, over an extended period of time our METABOLIC RATE (which is why we’re not as hungry while we’re sleeping. Essentially, you did all of this just by controlling your breathing for just a few minutes. Now, let’s assume that something happened just prior to or just after you practiced that exercise and that you were accustomed to practicing the exercise on a regular and consistent basis. In effect you would be better able to handle whatever the stressful incident was as a result and that could work for you every time. Even if you were not accustomed to practicing the exercise, doing so after a stressful even would help you to better cope with and handle whatever the circumstances were that prevailed in the heat of the stress involved.
Now, let’s try another relaxation method. Think for a moment as to where in your body that you tend to become the most tense whenever something happens that results in your feeling the tension that stress brings along with it. Maybe there are two or three areas of your body that you can identify. O.K. Now, just simply tense those identified areas without creating any pain and let go of that tension. You need to do this QUICKLY and IMMEDIATELY and not over a period of time. Now, let’s determine what you accomplished. First, you identified the area/s that usually become tense and created more tension. Then you LET GO of that tension and experienced an almost immediate sense of relief or RELAXATION that took the place of the tension. Please remember that since everything in life is relative, you really can’t identify a sense of relaxation until you can first identify feelings of tension.
Now, who would notice your doing that exercise ten or fifteen times a day for just a few minutes in order to gird yourself with the pattern of tension relief. The more that you are able to practice these methods, the more available the resultant feeling of relaxation will become. It can then be used as a preventive measure or one that can help us to deal with a sudden stressful event (such as a major loss in our stock profile). The effects of major stresses are harmful and can, over time, become drastic steps to “burnout” which is extremely difficult to turn around … and sometimes impossible to turn around.
And so, now you can see that dealing with stress is all in your hands. You can’t stop stress from occurring but you can limit the deleterious effects that tend to “do all of us in.” there is no better way to manage our lives and the stress that we all experience on a daily basis than to consistently practice and use the relaxation methods described above.
Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.