Stress is one of the most prevalent modern-day conditions. Nobody is immune to it. From the child to the adult to the elderly, we are all affected by it. So what do we do about it and what is it about? Stress is actually an overreaction to circumstances in our lives. At one time, we used to be able to leave our work at the office or plant, but nowadays, we have our laptop and cell phone so we can be contacted at all times. We never rest. Stress is a survival instinct; the sympathetic system is involved, which entails flight or fight, and we tend to be in this mode or action at all times. We constantly contract waiting for the next survival threat. This is where we run into problems.
Our body needs to counteract the stress/survival threat mode. Relaxation is the counterbalance of this. Stress contracts and relaxation releases or loosens. Relaxation is part of the parasympathetic system – the rest and repair. This response is where we rest and repair any damage to our systems caused by too much contraction. It is like our car at high speed all the time which would wear a car down completely. We need to run the car and ourselves in a balance of both high and low speed and parking/rest. Over stimulation isn’t the best for us all the time. For a time, it is alright but not constantly. We have to sit back and relax and let the tension go.
Be aware of how your body is feeling right now. Where do you hold your tension the most? Do a body scan and check yourself out. Do your shoulders hurt? Do your hands hurt? What hurts the most? Now simply contract that area and then relax it. Do it a second time and then a third to get that area used to being relaxed. Now be aware of how that feels. Is it warm and more relaxed? That means extra circulation which is good. Even some tension headaches are caused by restricted circulation to the head from holding the tension in your shoulders and neck. Use the next simple meditation to increase the feeling of relaxation in your body. Practice this often through the day until it becomes natural and you feel more relaxed even though you will be going through stressful times. Don’t hold onto your stress just let the feeling release from you.
- Take some long slow breaths in and out of your nostrils. Let the feeling of the flowing breath become stronger. Feel the breath coming in and then releasing as it flows out of you. Imagine your stress being like that. Stress flows out with the exhalation and relaxation flows in with the inhalation. Feel your stress release more with each exhalation. If this is difficult to feel, then say the words to yourself and your body will respond. Repeat several times.
- Now shake off your hands like you are shaking off water. Shake and release using your stress like the water you are shaking off. Feel it release with the motion of your hands.
- The next action you can do is stroking off. Put your hand at the top of your arm and stroke down and off your arm and then your hand. Make it a long stroke and feel your hand going all the way down your arm. Repeat with the other arm. Put your hands on your forehead and gently stroke off your entire face going all the way down to your chin and off. Stroke off your scalp letting any stress be stroked off and away. Keep stroking off your body from your torso to your legs but make sure you go all the way off with your strokes. Don’t stop while you are still touching your body.
- Next slowly contract your whole body and hold. Now with a long sigh, release the contraction slowly until your body is totally relaxed. Feel the relaxation in your body and stay tuned into the relaxation rather than the contraction. Tighten your body again but not as much as the first time, and with a longer slower sigh, release the tension. Repeat again lessening the contraction each time but keeping the sigh long and slow, till you have released the tension completely from your body. Make the sigh nice and loud if you can and this helps. Be noisy!!!
- Now smile! Yes, I did say smile. Grin, smirk, laugh, giggle, chuckle, snicker, enjoy, whatever but let yourself feel joy. There is nothing better than a wonderful happy feeling to release the tension. Now go and smile at everyone else and bring some joy to them. Take it with you.