Adventures in Relieving Stress

Whether we are at work, traveling, or at home, we've all had bad days. Those stressful times can be difficult, but important, to shake. Your mental, emotional, and physical health depends on you to find ways to relax and regain equilibrium. I'm going to be sharing some practices that you can do to help throw off that stress and reclaim your Happy Self in no time!

First, let me explain a little bit to you about Stress Chemicals. Stress and other forms of negativity affect your sympathetic nervous system and endocrine and hormonal systems. Stress sends nerve impulses to the adrenal glands, which in turn puts a number of different chemicals into your blood stream. They affect the pituitary gland, which causes yet even more chemicals to be released. These chemicals include corticosteroids, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, other hormones, and neurotransmitters. All the chemical reactions can turn into a vicious cycle making it harder to clear yourself from them and the damage they cause.

The good news is there are a broad variety of tools you can use to relax your mind and body to relieve the stress chemicals before they cause too much harm. Let's go on an adventure and try a variety of activities to find what works best for you!

My favorite thing to do to help me get back to my Happy Self is to take long hot baths. Bathing works to clear the stress chemicals from our topical bodies, relaxes our muscles, and it feels wonderful! Epsom salts, Bath Salts, or Sugar Scrubs are perfect agents to use. I also use aromatherapy products such as candles or incense. Soothing music is a beautiful touch as well.

Another important thing to do is to Move Your Body! Yoga, Pilates, or any stretching exercise will help release the stuck stress chemicals from your muscles and spine. Any sort of stretching will do, touch your toes and reach up high into the air, as high as you can reach and then bend back down to touch your toes again. Even one minute of stretching is beneficial. Try to take several mini stretch breaks throughout your day. Take a walk, dance, jump up and down, do whatever you can think of to just move, even if only for a couple minutes a day out of your hectic schedule. You'll be amazed at how this increases your energy and gives you more stamina against stress.

Good breathing practices are critical. Of course, you HAVE to breathe. Good breathing takes some practice and will give you the most benefit of how the oxygen circulates through your bloodstream. Use good breathing to replace stress chemicals with clean energy. This helps your body tremendously and helps your mind react with more stability. The simplest method I've found is to breathe in slowly and steadily. Try it! Take three nice deep breaths, through your heart. Now, focus on your diaphragm filling up like a balloon each time you inhale and deflating softly with each exhale. Allow this process to be very natural and steady. This is the perfect practice that you can do anytime, anywhere. I encourage you to practice this one as often as you can think of it. I find rush hour is a particularly good time for me to work on breathing techniques!

Visualization techniques are another great practice to focus on from time to time. Don't worry if you can't actually SEE what you are trying to visualize. Every person sees things differently. What's important is your intention. For example, think of your favorite desert; really think about it, the way it tastes, the texture, and the colors. How are you doing at imagining that? That imagining is exactly what visualization is. You are all ready an expert! Let's put that expertise into motion with some visualization exercises. Find a relaxing area, sit or lie down, any position works wonderfully for this. When your comfortable, imagine a ball of bright white or very bright blue light as a little spark that starts in the area of your sacral chakra (Your tummy area), allow it to grow into a flame. Allow that flame to grow within you and outside of you. Let the flame fill your whole space and imagine it "burning" out all negative blocks or murky feeling areas. Now, imagine the flame blowing out of you and disappearing into the distance, taking all the negativity with it. Now breathe! You can also do simple visualizations of your favorite Happy Places. The beach, a beautiful sunset, or a loved one always works well for me. Whatever your very own special Happy Places are, spend some time and go there in your heart and mind and notice how refreshed you feel after your "journey".

One last I'll leave you with for now is to begin a journal. Use it to record where your stresses come from, what you did to relieve yourself from it and how that turned out for you. You'll be able to use your journal to fine-tune the methods that work best for you. While you are doing this, remember to mix it up a bit. Try practicing visualization or breathing techniques as you soak in a nice hot bath, or when you are stretching. Mix all the techniques up to find your own variety of stress relief tools. Then, when those yucky, stressful days hit, you'll be well prepared to handle them with ease!

Tracy Togliatti is a Holistic Practitioner specializing in Energy Psychology and Reiki. She offers a free service at http://www.happyher.com/advice/index.shtml

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