Stress is part of life. Up to a point, the human organism is not only designed to deal with stress. We are actually programmed to improve our performance in many areas as we adapt to it. Evolution has provided us with many complex coping mechanisms. Some help us deal effectively with the problems and manage or erase an unhealthy accumulation. But there are also counterproductive psychological reactions that cover up or ignore the roots, and generate even more stress. Here are three proven ways to take control over the buildups in your life.
Mental rehearsal can prepare you for the challenge
Most of the stress-producing situations we encounter are repeated—over and over again. Knowing the source of these can allow us to take action. But even if we can't trace the cause, the negative mental messages associated with patterns of stress are usually known. By rehearsing your stress patterns in advance, including the negative left brain messages associated with them, you will desensitize yourself to these. In many cases, this rehearsal can stimulate the right brain to search for solutions, or for better coping strategies.
Exercise is a powerful stress eraser!
Research has shown that a 30 minute workout can lower stress better than just about anything. Physical exertion can erase tension, promote relaxation, and raise your stamina and threshold for stress. Even more powerful is the mental attitude boost and vitality increase bestowed by practically every workout. As people get into running, for example, they tend to confront problems more directly which reduces the buildup of unresolved or ignored issues. Many experts believe that aerobic exercise, lasting longer than 60 minutes, 3 times a week, acts as a shock absorber to the system. Exercisers become better at releasing a stress overload, while feeling empowered to find solutions. Regular exercisers tend to connect more directly to the root of problems—as opposed to treating the symptoms.
There's a unique soothing feeling when you give yourself over to a massage. I use the Human Touch massage chair and find that a 15 minute session can leave me relaxed for hours—sometimes all day. On really tough days, I will enjoy multiple sessions. When muscles are manipulated, endorphins are released which relax the brain. In this altered state, it is possible to let go of the unhealthy stress accumulation, and let the mind spin free.