Mind & Motion

S-T-R-E-S-S

Posted in Health by Meghan Pickrell on September 8, 2010

Ok, so I’m a little stressed out about writing this. I have stack of bills to open, a promotional flyer to create, a thesis looming over my head, and week old nail polish chipping off my fingers. BUT, I’m glad to see all of YOU reading this blog and it’s quite a joy to write. So, everything else can just wait… patiently… I hope.

STRESS! It’s a killer. The number one client complaint is generally related somehow to stress. It’s envitable and inherent in today’s intense, busy world. I don’t think anyone is oblivious to it… except maybe the Dali Lama. But, let me remind you he spends 5 hours a day in meditation to ward off all possible invasions of stress. So, we could all become monks? Or live in reality.

The reality is that the pressures and expectations of todays society leave us little time for ourself. Which is disappointing. What’s important to remember is that chronic stress can lead to illness and pathological conditions. (Don’t let this further stress you out… there’s hope. Keep reading). Stressful conditions can activate the sympathetic nervous system creating a fight/flight response in overdrive. Not good people. This means that your body detects a threat, alerting your system to move. Quickly. Many so-called functional disorders can be related to a compromised autonomic nervous system where the body has a decrease in parasympathetic function (the system which helps you relax…ahhh) and an increase in sympathetic function (fight/flight… AHHH!). So, when clients with autonomic nervous system disorders such as irritable bowl, chronic migraines, high blood pressure and fatigue come to my office I ask them what their stress levels are like. It seems most everyone is stressed.

The interesting part of stress is that people can act differently in stressful conditions. What is considered stressful to one may not be stressful to another. Or some may just have better coping mechanisms. If you just knew how to self-soothe in stressful conditions it might help your system to feel relaxed and not threatened. In order to self-soothe you need to know what relaxes you. Breathing techniques, rocking movements, prayer and even social engagement may help relieve the sensations of stress and soothe your body. Generally, inhalation stimulates the sympathetic branch whereas exhalation stimulates the parasympathetic branch. So, simple conscious control of breathing (4 seconds inhaling through your nose and 8 seconds exhaling through your mouth) should help you regulate the autonomic nervous system and feel more relaxed. Just think of it like this, when your fellow cave man was running from the giant bear his body was trying to get as much oxygen as possible in order to keep those muscles working. This helps the fight/flight mechanism to kick into full gear. Um, the last time I checked there weren’t too many bears running down Hollywood Blvd.

Notice what triggers your stress. Try the suggested breathing technique or find something else that you can go to in order to calm yourself for a few moments. Maybe just shut the blinds in your office and sit in a few moments of blessed silence. Those bills, that flyer, and the eternal thesis will get done in time. My health is more important. Note to self: inhale and exhale.

One Response

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  1. mom said, on September 13, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Very good advice.


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