I just finished reading an article on the top five stress reducers as I was reading the article I was thinking, yeah this makes sense, of course, I know this. Then it occured to me that it wasn't all the long ago I didn't know all this.
It wasn't until 2008 when I started yoga that I learned that when humans are stressed out we only breath into the upper portion of our lungs. When stressed out most of us carrying it in the upper chest and back which is why your shoulders and neck often hurt. As a rule we don't breath properly even when not stressed out and it is purtinant that we stop and breath fully belly breathes. This helps us get more oxegen and helps rejuvinate our blood flow. This is always important but especially when we are stressed out as the stress prevents us getting the right amount of oxygen through normal breathing. So stop inhale deeply through nose until your beely has expanded, hold, then release through the nose. Three times is a good rule but doing more will not hurt you. It's easy to incorporate, at your desk, at a red light, while waiting for the bus or in bed. It is also a good wake up practice as it helps provided energy. Deep breathing is natures little miracle as it helps energize when needed and helps us rest when needed, what a powerful funtion.
The article next refers to walking and this seems self explanitory but I think the key is how you walk. It doesn't mean your rushed walk to the bus stop. More like a relaxed walk where you are mindful of your surroundings. Breathing properly while walking, taking in sounds, smells, the feel of your body. Use all five senses when you walk outside, feel the air on your skin, your feet hit the groud. Your walks will have much more impact on reducing your stress this way.
Walking ust to be a chore for me something I had to do to get to work etc. Now I've made it a pleasure, I no longer have to walk to work but I have to walk my dog. This to me is the most joyful parts of my day, I would almost go as far as to say the dog saved my life that is how much he's given me. When I was stressed out and just wanted the walk over he would refuse to go up my street as he didn't want the walk to be over. How could I deny him something that is good for him? It wasn't too long after I started to look forward to our long walks togehter, just him and me. I can enjoy the fresh air and my surroundings, I focus on my dog and don't consume myself with ruminating thoughts as I use to while I walked. Walking has brought great peace to my life and it is an activity in which I enjoy the solitude.
From talking to a lot of my friends and people I meet it seems a lot of people are afraid of yoga. They know of it's benefits to mind, body and spirit but there is something about performing that inherantly scares a lot of people. It is truly a great stress reducer and the thing about yoga is it is non judgemental, you aren't meant to be a pretzel no matter how go those poses look on the cover of a magazine. Yoga teaches us that where we are is where we are suppose to be. If I can't touch my toes, that's ok as it isn't about getting to your toes, it's about embrassing the posture in a comfortable position and taking in breath. If you can touch your toes one day, great but if not you are still receiving the benefits. It's about starting where you are and not competing. Some folks worry people will be watching them but it's truly hard to concentrate on doing yoga and watch someone else. It simply doesn't happen, I know as my shirt has gone over my head a couple times in downward dog and everything was okay as everyone was in their posture and not focusing on me. If you haven't given yoga a chance I really encourage you to try it, even at home if that is more comfortable for you. That's how I started but now that I go to class, I wouldn't give it up for the world.
The fourth stress reducer the article referred to was meditation, even into my early adulthood I didn't know anything about meditation. It was something people from other cultures practiced and I had no idea why or how. Then I learned there is no real how, you just do. That doesn't mean it is easy, it takes years to master a quiet mind but even before that the benefits are astounding. I first started to learn about it when I was suffering from depression and anxiety and a doctor referred me to the works of Jon Kabat-Zinn. I quickly caught on that if mindfulness can do what it claims, I wanted in. So I began to practice but I didn't know what I was doing so I needed resources, I turned to itunes and found some guided meditations to start. Meditation Oasis instantly became my favourite and over four years later I am still using it on my iphone. The next step was learning to do it on my own so I joined a work group Toronto MBSR Workshop that taught Jon Kabat-Zinn's method and I have gained such relief from having done so. Now when something upsets me, I can't sleep or I have pain I meditate and have found it's benefits are priceless. I only wish I had found it sooner.
The final thing the article says will help reduce stress is guided imagery and I agree it is helpful in reducing stress however I do not agree that it should be number five. I think the author forgot a healthy diet, one that will keep you energized, promote a healthy immune system and will not cause you harm. So no chips and chocolate bars are not a part of this healthy diet. Not being a dietary expert I can't tell you what or how to eat but I do know that not eating healthy will lead to fatigue, depression, increased/decreased weight, illness and your body aging more quickly. It is hard to fight of stress if your body doesn't have the proper nutrients. We can't be happy if our bodies aren't well and keeping the body well means treating it right. Feeding it enough food, not too much or too little. Feeding it the right foods and at proper times of day. I truly believe if we follow all these steps we will find happiness and peace.