Ever been in a stressful situation that leaves you anxious, worried, angry, or frustrated? Have you ever been on the receiving end of somebody else’s bad day and had to encounter hurtful actions or words but still needed to go on with your own work or responsibilities? Catering to these actions is not always a pleasurable experience, and oftentimes you are left in a state of stress with little time to respond, react, or even catch your breath.
Understand that stress in a negative sense is a mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences; it is capable of affecting physical health- usually characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability, and in some cases depression. It can affect the body physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. These factors can impact our personal lives, careers, hobbies, and extracurricular activities, plus create a lot of tension within many of our relationships.
The good news is there are a few simple strategies to employ if the unfortunate ‘Grinch’ seeps itself into your otherwise pleasant day. By taking just a few moments to catch your breath, mentally refresh, or do a few simple mini-stress workouts (see our samples below) you will discover your mind-set greatly improves and the return to your activities will be just as rewarding the second time through.
TACTICS FOR COPING:
- Change the environment if possible- quiet, no distractions, soft music, and some dim lighting. By creating this relaxed ambiance your body will release tension and let go of anxiety. Use candles or other smells to enhance the experience (lavender is excellent!)
- Change your mind set- quieting the mind, curbing negative self-talk, gossip or the urge to retaliate, focus inward on breathing and heart beat. Close your eyes and actively relax all muscles from head to toe
- Change your breathing patterns- take deep, long, meaningful breaths. Count to 4 as you inhale slowly, but exhale longer (about 6-8 counts) to increase relaxation effects. Place one hand on the abdomen and one hand on the chest and feel the breath lift the body on the inhales, but soften the body with the exhales
- Try some physical movements- yoga inspired stretching (see below), which open the chest, twist the spine, and help relieve tension in areas of chronic tightness usually encountered by stress. Common areas are the neck, upper back, lower back, hips and shoulders
TIME PERMITTING TRY ONE OF OUR SAMPLE STRESS WORKOUTS
5 minutes or less– change your environment as much as you can, begin releasing attachment to the situation that caused the stress. Sit upright or lie down, and close your eyes. Use slow, deep breathing and actively release tension in the face, neck, and jaw.
10 minutes– same as 5 minutes, but add 4 basic yoga-style stretches. Hold each one for 3-5 breaths, and repeat the sequence 2 times. Use a yoga mat, block and strap as necessary.
- Seated chest expansion
- Lateral neck stretch to R and L
- Seated forward bend
- Seated twist to R and L
20 minutes or more– repeat set up from 5 minute section, perform all seated stretches from 10 minute section, and then lay on floor on top of yoga mat to complete the last 3 exercises. Repeat them one time to each side and hold them for 5-10 deep breaths. Finish with the legs elevated on a chair, lying on back with eyes closed (covered if possible with an eye bag), a small blanket or pillow under your head, and arms resting along side of body with palms facing up. Use deep breathing, relaxation, and visualization techniques to further enhance your stress relief. Stay in this position for 5 or more minutes.
- Lying Figure-4 outer hip stretch for R and L
- Lying twist to R and L
- Cobbler’s Pose
By taking a few moments to disconnect, breath deep, relax, and move a little you will discover the stressful events leave little, if any impression on you. Remember, stress affects us all at some point in our lives, but it is how you handle and act upon your stress relief tactics that ultimately relates to your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual self.
Amy is the NW Regional Trainer for Resist-A-Ball, Inc. and Faculty Trainer for the American Council on Exercise. Her Bachelor of Science was attained in Holistic Nutrition and is certified as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and yoga instructor. She also offers workshops, lectures and trainings for fitness professionals through her own company http://www.fitlaunch.com FIT Launch as well as providing personal training services locally.
To learn more and review health, wellness, and fitness products visit the http://www.healthygatherings.com Healthy Gatherings website.
Aromatherapies, Herbal, and Nutritional options for relieving stress can be found on the Healthy Gatherings website. These products are in addition to many exercise products and opportunities to connect with a personal wellness consultant in your area.
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