Put that Stress to Rest!
There exist a myriad of proven methods for combating the debilitating effects of physical, mental, and/or emotional stress. When choosing the method(s) that works best for you, you should take into account a variety of factors.
Causes and symptoms of your stress: Do your quadriceps cramp at the onset of big races? Does your brain freeze up/drift off in the midst of writing a crucial term paper? Does your mood consistently flat-line when recalling a particularly harrowing experience? Some stress-relievers address physical issues, some mental, some emotional, short-term, long-term, etc.
Time and effort you are willing/able to devote: The typical American working man or woman does not have enough free time in his or her daily schedule, falling prey to the “eat, sleep, work, consume” life cycle. Thus, methods that require multiple hours or even days of devotion are ruled out in favor of quick fixes.
Size of your fortune: Consumer products, prescription drugs and professional help can provide invaluable assistance in the relief of stress- if you don’t mind dipping into your wallet for a few, perhaps a few hundred, dollars.
Here is a shortlist of three simple ways to reduce stress:
Meditation: In an excerpt from the novel Awaken to Superconsciousness: Meditation for Inner Peace, Inner Guidance, and Greater Awareness, Swami Kriyananda writes “The secret of understanding other people is to identify with them at their center. To find the center of anything or anyone, first withdraw to your own center…” If events at home or in the workplace are triggering repeated mental distractions from the task at hand, it might be best to drop everything and “withdraw to your own center.” Close your eyes and focus your attention on a sound and/or image that puts you in that “happy place”, all the while keeping every muscle in the body completely relaxed. If the same stressors return, simply go back to that same sound or image. Do this once or twice a day for 20 minutes per session (like during a lunch break or before a big game if the coach approves).
Massage: If you’ve got a little cash to burn, this is a no-brainer. Massage therapy is a guaranteed solution for relieving bodily stress and improving overall mood, the latter effect being especially important for constantly stressed people such as doctors and schoolteachers.
Yoga: There is no need to delve into the obvious physical effects of yogic practice (streamlined physique and inhuman flexibility come to mind), but other lesser-known results may surprise you. In Stress and Its Management by Yoga, Dr. K.N. Udupa writes “The patients of high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma, who came to us at an early stage, showed very good improvement. Those who came later, their drug requirement was considerably reduced after starting yogic practice.” If yogic practice- with help from low doses of proper medication- can all but cure serious disorders like the ones mentioned above, there is no reason why you should not give it a try!
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