Stress Reducers

We often wonder what different types of stress reducers are. Do you feel anxious all the time? Is decision-making difficult for you? Are there times when you really feel stretched out and want to run away? Do you feel lethargic? Have you been losing sleep a lot? Do you feel uncomfortable due to certain inevitable changes that are occurring in your life?

If you have answered most of these questions in the affirmative, you may well be in the grips of stress, a malady of modern times. Stress has been defined as a reaction or response to any kind of change. It acts like a signal for the body and mind to get prepared for any eventuality. In that sense, some stress is essential for a healthy, lively life.

But if you are facing a significant number of stress symptoms, you definitely need to do something about it, for these persistent problems could trigger off some more serious types of illnesses that might be harmful to you physically or mentally. Here are four techniques that act as stress reducers:

The simplest of all stress-reducer techniques are meditation and deep breathing. Concentrate on your breathing several times in a day. You can practice such techniques anywhere, anytime, even while you travel, shop, stop due to traffic lights, while the telephone is ringing, or while waiting in a queue.

Take a deep breath right from the pit of your stomach. Inhale through your nose. Feel the energy coming in and revitalizing your body. Breathe out through your mouth, while making soft, gentle sounds that resemble whooshing of the wind every time you breathe out.

Continue to take long, slow, deep breaths which raise and lower your abdomen. Concentrate on feeling and sound of your breath to become more and more relaxed. Repeat deep breathing for at least 5 minutes, one to two times a day, for a couple of weeks. Then, if you like, extend this period gradually to 20 minutes.

At the end of each deep breathing session, scan your body for tension and compare the tension you feel at the end of the exercise with what you had experienced when you started.

Visualization is another stress reducer technique wherein you can use your imagination to visualize all the good things you want in life. It is based on the principle that the mind and body are intimately connected and changes in the physical state of the body create changes in the mind. Through visualization, we learn to use positive mental images consciously to bring about changes in the way we think and feel. It is, therefore, also called positive imagery.

Lie down or sit comfortably. Try to relax and close your eyes. Now imagine that it is a beautiful day and you are taking a walk. Give yourself mental commands to leave your chair, your room, your home and finally reach a place that is most soothing to you.

Try to find yourself in an open field...a vast stretch of green landscape...imagine yourself walking through the field...on the far side of the field imagine a dark and beautiful forest. As you come into the forest, through the trees, it becomes more shady and cool. And then you can go on adding to your imagination, whatever relaxes you.

As you may be unfamiliar with the skill of conscious visualization, it may take some time to learn. It is quite common to be interrupted by noises in the beginning; you will get better if you practice this technique regularly. If you have trouble getting impressions from all the senses, work on your strongest sense first.

At the heart of the third technique of stress reducer, which was developed by American physiologist Edmund Jacobson, is the premise that the body responds to anxiety-provoking thoughts and situations with muscle tension. This physiological or bodily tension can be controlled by means muscular relaxation, which in turn also reduces anxiety.

And how can we forget the role of laughter as s stress reducer? Remember, a chuckle a day, more than an apple, keeps the doctor away:

Try to spend as much time as possible with cheerful people.

Try not to always take yourself too seriously.

Keep a collection of your favorite funny books and videocassettes.

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