The usual stress remedy involves learning some tools that can help in the external world, changing your time management skills for example, so that regular time is given to some relaxing activities.
And an excellent stress remedy and stress explanation is provided by John Gottman,Ph.D. in his workshop called The Art and the Science of Love.
Gottman goes into some detail describing what our body does when we perceive, which means I process some visual (photons) or auditory (sound waves) or sensory (pressure) or olfactory or gustatory data in my brain and interpret it, meaning I say to myself something like, "I have the resources to deal with this interpretation" or "I cannot deal with this situation" or "I like this" or "I do not like this" or "Danger! Move", and you will move in less time than it takes to blink your eyes, which is 1/10th second.
The stress response is very powerful, and is designed to move us "off the bulls eye" quickly, usually quicker than I can generate words, and any stress remedy has got to take into account the power of this physiology and the speed of this physiology.
Gottman calls this Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA)and suggests that this powerful physiology is detrimental when it gets cued in a marital relationship, and that folks who catch themselves moving up the arousal ladder should take their pulse and if their pulse rate is over 100 beats per minuter, they need to take a time out and carefully manage their thinking and breathing.
This process needs to have the careful attention of men, because we go up the arousal ladder faster and stay there longer.
When is Diffuse Physiological Arousal Helpful?
Only when you are under an actual attack, but how many of us cue up this physiology and sustain it unnecessarily in our daily lives in order to produce more widgets or make more sales calls or get that extra report done or be prepared for the next terrorist attack, or because we cannot pay our bills, or business is poor?
I see this kind of approach to life, that life is dangerous, and the next attack is imminent, all the time in my domestic violence and and anger management classes, and I say to those clients that they have Gottman's DPA or what we usually call the fight or flight process hardwired, and can get it when needed, why keep your body filled with adrenalin or cortisol until it is needed?
As most of them are parents I ask them to remember back to how their babies breathed as infants.
Surprisingly, most folks can remember that their babies breathed fully, into their bellies, and then I ask my clients to do the same, and no one has yet to not remember how relaxing deep breathing is.
But then everyone goes right back to shallow breathing which is the kind of breathing we do when we are feeling fear.
So Stress Remedy Number One is Breathing Deeply Routinely?
Yes it is, and deep breathing does nothing to change the external world, it only changes the internal world, so...
Stress Remedy Number 2 is Remembering that Stress Remedies are an Inside Job
Stress physiology happens inside, it is a function of my breathing and thinking, as are stress remedies, and then I drop the stress remedy bombshell, which is called Heartmath, or heart rate variability biofeedback, and I ask my clients if they would like to learn a simple process using a computerized biofeedback program which will train them to control the time between their heart beats, which feels good, and can by used as an anger and stress antidote on any given heart beat.
Most of them say no, because they think it is a lie detector test, but since they are mostly court ordered, I have them on it rather quickly with some reassurances about confidentiality, and to a person, male or female, clients are very surprised and gratified to see how easy it is to learn, and how quickly their thoughts impact their physiology, even when they are sitting quietly.
That impact can be either towards relaxation or stress, and clients are amazed to see that they can sustain a coherent heart rate variability, which is a feel good experience, and many go on to recognize that their stress remedy has got to involve regular attention to their heart beat and thinking and breathing and that if they keep their heart beat coherent, they get to access the higher perceptual centers of their brain, which means improved performance at work, better SAT or ACT scores for students, and better athletic performances, let alone better health, because they are saving the stress response for what it was designed for, a life or death situation.
Heartmath has grown out of another new field of study, called neurocardiology, which is the study of the heart's own nervous system.
It turns out that the heart has lots of neurons in it, enough that it can learn and make decisions independently of any other brain I may have, and that heart brain is affiliative and cooperative, and I can keep my heart brain very active in my heart beat by heart beat daily routine, which means an entirely different physiology for my body, based on DHEA, the anti aging hormone.
As I mentioned earlier, keeping the heart rate coherent actually opens the brain's higher perceptual centers for brain storming effective solutions to those economic issues all of us are facing right now. Want to try it out? The link below should take you to some instructional videos.
Would you Share What You Are Most Grateful For?
A wise person once told me that an "Attitude of Gratitude" would help me feel better in those moments of fear or resentment. That wise person was correct.
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