You Have a Natural Stress Reduction “Muscle” & You Can Learn to Strengthen It

Desert Lacey WilliamsStress. The joy-sucking, pressurizing, uncomfortable feeling often defined as pressure, strain, or tension. But what really causes us to feel “stressed out?”

Stress is a physiological response to a stressful thought.

Actually, every thought has a physical reaction in your body. And we have an estimated 50,000+ thoughts per day!

Positive emotions like humour, compassion and happiness are connected to health benefits and relaxation, yet stress as we know (and feel!) has a very negative effect on our health and our ability to enjoy our lives.

Imagine, if each thought has a reaction in your body and 20,000 of them are stressed out thoughts, what kind of effect must that have?

Now imagine one entire day with no stressed out thoughts. You would not “feel stressed out”!

So just stop having stressful thoughts. Easy right?

Uhh, nope! Actually, it often seems impossible to control our thoughts. Our mind is like a hamster on a wheel, it keeps going and going and we can’t get it to stop!

At any one time you can have dozens (hundreds?) of things that need to be done, thought about, planned, worked on, scrutinized, and pondered.

So what is the secret?

You have to Actively Practice Relaxation!

The more times in your life that you are in a state of relaxation, the stronger your “relaxation muscle” will be. Its like push-ups. One push-up isn’t going to get you in shape, but do many push-ups over many weeks and your body will transform.

Same with your mind. Your mind wants to relax! It just isn’t being given the instructions to do so by you! YOU HAVE THE POWER!

Let’s do a little experiment. Close your eyes, take one deep breath (about 6 seconds) while gently telling yourself “relax”.  Now, did you notice anything?

Even in one breath, can you notice that your body reacting to the instruction?
Did you notice what a sense of relaxation can feel like in your body? That is the power of your breath!

3 Steps to instructing your mind to Actively Practice Relaxation:

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Take 5 deep breaths
  3. With each exhale, say to yourself

          relax.

Important: Don’t forget you need to you actively work out your “Relaxation Muscle”. Even when you are not “feeling stressed”, you should try taking a deep breath and reminding yourself to relax almost anywhere so that you can strengthen your natural stress reduction muscle!

Try reminding your body to “relax” while

  • walking down the street
  • in line at the grocery store/bank
  • on the bus

Or anywhere you have 6 seconds to spare!
This is only a glimpse into stress reduction, but realizing that your thoughts have a reaction in your body and that you have the power to instruct your body to relax at any time means you have the POWER to make positive changes to reduce stress! Hurray!

Wishing you a stress free day! 🙂

LaceyWilliams-web– Lacey Williams
Enterprise Business ’05

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