Stress Prevention

Do it Yourself Stress Remedies

by  Jennifer Micija

Certified Yoga Teacher

President of the Huntingdon Health and Wellness Association

Stress comes in “good” and “bad” forms. Group presentations, weddings, roller coaster rides, and other exciting events trigger “good” stress. “Bad” stress can occur in circumstances related to work, finances, relationships, health and family.  With both types of stress a “fight or flight” response initiates the same complex chain of bodily and biochemical changes involving the interaction of the brain, the nervous system, and a variety of different hormones. In addition, the digestive system shuts down, the skin sweats, and muscles tense up.

If the stress response is set off appropriately it can help us function at our peak.  However, if the stress response is set off inappropriately, or too often, a cumulative effect occurs, and we undermine our health.

Signs of stress include headaches, digestive disorders, loss of sleep, change in appetite, increased use of nicotine, alcohol, or caffeine, nail biting, highly emotional behavior, low motivation and work productivity, and fatigue. High levels of stress may make the body more susceptible to high blood pressure, skin rashes, depressed immune system, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, lower back pain, stomach ulcers, accidents and other diseases. Surveys and research over the past two decades by the American Institute of Stress in New York reveal that 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects due to stress, and 75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints or disorders.

What can we do to control stress?  Here are some do-it-yourself remedies that I find useful for promoting balance in my life. I hope they will help you as well.

Create an office or home sanctuary. If your space is disorganized, get organized.  Mess is stress! Personalize your space with artwork. Play music, water and care for plants, or set out fresh flowers.  Light a candle or an aromatherapy diffuser. Natural lighting is important too, as it regulates levels of the hormone melatonin, which has powerful effects on sleep and mood. Full spectrum bulbs are best.  Pay attention to the level of light to avoid eyestrain and headaches. For working at a computer, dim light is best. When reading or doing other close-focus activities, use a stronger light. If your eyes feel strained during your work day, rub your palms together to generate heat and enliven energy, and then lay them over your eyes for ten seconds. Repeat as needed.

Be sure to give yourself the best air quality possible. Most office buildings, factories and homes  have dry air with poor circulation. Sore throats, headaches, and allergies are common ailments that occur from dusts, molds and chemicals that thrive in carpeting, inadequately cleaned space and poorly ventilated areas. Consider an ionizer or a humidifier. Decorate with plants. They increase oxygen, work as natural air filters, and are beautiful. Take breaks outdoors and get fresh air as much as possible.

Aromatherapy is a holistic art and science using fragrances from fresh fruits, plants, flowers, spices and essential oils to promote physical and emotional health. Lavender helps restore balance and can relieve headaches.  Peppermint is cooling, refreshing and energizing and may help relieve nervousness, upset stomach and menstrual cramps.

A powerful tip for eliminating stress in your life is to practice mindfulness by living in the moment.
For example, when you shower, shower. Don’t let your mind wander through the day before you get to it. Enjoy your shower and let the water be part of a relaxing and cleansing experience. Set aside time for planning rather than constantly planning and missing out on the gift of the present.

Yoga is an ancient art and science based on a harmonizing system of development for the body, mind, and spirit. The continued practice of yoga will lead you to peace and well-being and enhance your flexibility, strength and clarity of thinking. Here are two techniques to aid in reducing stress and promoting balance.

Circle of Joy: Seated or standing, breathe in and out of your nostrils without forcing at all. Focus on your heart and feel it beating. Be aware of all that is peaceful, loving and joyful. Place palms together in front of your heart, interlace your fingers, and inhale. Exhale as you extend your arms out in front. Inhale as you raise your arms above your head. Exhale as you release your arms down to the sides. Bring the arms together behind the back; interlace fingers, lengthen and rise skyward. Release the hands back to your heart. Repeat four to six times.

Child Pose: Sit on your heels with your knees together, placing a cushion under your knees and buttocks if needed. Bend forward at the hips, extending your torso over your knees. Bring your forehead to the floor and extend your arms along your sides, palms up. Place a cushion or blanket under your forehead for support if needed. Breathe deeply and experience the calm.

Meditation is a mental technique used in yoga practice or practiced alone. It brings deep rest to the mind and body and draws mental energies inward in order to tap our deepest resources. Meditation promotes emotional and mental stability, clarity in decision-making, an increase in creative energy, and peace of mind.

It is important to identify the stressors in your life and incorporate some techniques to effectively deal with them.  No one technique is sufficient, but people who destress on a regular basis are more psychologically and physiologically stable and feel in greater control of their lives.  Find what works for you and make it a regular part of your life.  Your efforts will be well-rewarded.

The Huntingdon Health and Wellness Association makes no medical claims or recommendations.  Check with your doctor about your specific health care needs.  For more information on the Huntingdon Health and Wellness Association contact Jennifer Micija, president, at 814-667-2097 or jenmicija@hotmail.com.