Saturday, February 2, 2008

Releasing stress with a painless, healthy habit

This past week at work turned out to be rather stressful. And today I keep going over and over the events in my mind. I would like to be able to get rid of these thoughts and enjoy my two days away from the office. From previous experience, I know that it usually takes at least a day or so to get past a stressful encounter, but by then the weekend is gone and I am headed right back to work.

I also know that it helps to keep yourself busy. So, I went to happy hour with friends last night, then came home and watched a DVD movie and today I am catching up on reading some favorite PF blogs, but those nagging thoughts are still there. Ugh.

This morning, I found an article at Yahoo Health that caught my attention concerning habits to increase longevity.

For the most part, I already practice 4 of the 5 healthy habits. And since the 5th habit involves reducing stress, why not give it a shot?

The first four summarized:
Eat five small meals a day
Climb the stairs (exercise a little)
Laugh it up
Drink eight glasses of water a day

The fifth healthy habit for increased longevity:
Unwind with meditation.
Stress is the root cause of most of the diseases that shorten our life span. In our modern society stress will continue to increase - unless you find techniques to manage it. Meditation is the best way to release tension and revitalize your being. It teaches you to breath properly, which is critical for eliminating up to 70% of your body's toxins and wastes. It also quiets your mind, lowers your stress hormones, and teaches self-discipline, which is a necessary attribute to achieving your health and longevity goals.

Try this beginning meditation:
Sit comfortably on a chair or the floor. Breathe naturally and close your eyes. Each time a thought appears, put it inside a balloon and let it fly up into the sky and disappear. Do this until the thoughts are exhausted. After a bit, your body will feel very light, and your mind will become still. The first few times it may take a while, but it will get easier and faster with practice.

This is quite different from what I have traditionally considered the path to mitigating problems and ultimately reducing stress. I have always tried to work through the situation, to think about it and work it out. I would try to find a logical answer to something that may not be very logical. Looking back, that approach may have only prolonged the stress!

Depending on what is causing the stress, there may be times when it's best to just eliminate the thought. I kind of like the idea of blowing the thought into a balloon, tying the balloon off so it can’t get out and then releasing it. It does seem to help!

It's truly amazing that tricks or mental exercises like this can be used to essentially override or re-direct the brain. It all points to the fact that we have a lot more control of our thoughts than many of us realize. And with practice, we can improve our thoughts and the actions that they lead to in a powerful way.

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