Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reducing Stress and Anxiety by Michael Logan

Taking steps for reducing stress and anxiety in your life will not only give you serenity but can add years to your life, too. Stress puts both your body and your mind under strain. Short-term stress (called eustress) can't be helped and we all have to make it through stressful situations. Let's avoid distress, though.

But living in a stressful situation, whether it's a relationship or a job, isn't healthy for your body. Anxiety is often stress that accumulated and has now reached the stage where it must be dealt with in order for you to have the calmness back in your life.

There are so many things that cause us stress, which leads to anxiety. The worst thing that anyone can do is to ignore stress. Picture chronic stress like an oversized beach ball in the ocean.

You use a lot of mental energy to push that ball down below the surface so you don't have to deal with it. But the force of the water and the air in the ball will always bring it back to the surface. Such is the way with stress. No matter how long you don't deal with it or how often you push it aside, it will always bounce back into your life unless you root it out.

Reducing stress and anxiety enables you to move beyond the emotions and the struggle that keep you standing in the vast ocean trying to keep that ball away. The first step you should do is to limit the amount of external things that bring on more stress or aggravate the stress you already have.

For example, if hearing sad stories on the radio upset you, turn the radio off. Don't fill your mind with negative stories in any type of media. In case you haven't noticed, the uplifting, positive articles rarely make the news. Bad news can fill a person with anxiety.

Dump the negative from your life. If you have a friend who's always pulling you down emotionally or tearing down your self-esteem, this is not a healthy relationship and it's time to move on.

Look for events and people that introduce more laughter and joy into your life. Shut off the television and get on your feet. It's a proven fact that exercise is a great way to get rid of anxiety along with stress. As you exercise, focus on the positives. Take a walk outside. Think about the way the sunshine warms your face and how good the air smells. If a negative thought pops into your mind, refuse to dwell on it.

Don't bottle up your emotions and assume no one wants to listen to what's going on in your life. Make time with a good friend to sit and talk about how you're feeling. If you've recently moved and your friends are too far away, consider talking to a counselor.

Break down your day into small, easy to accomplish goals. Reward yourself when you reach them. Stop beating yourself up. Many of us have that inner self-critic that tells us we're no good or we're stupid or too this or too that. Learn to change the negative self talk into positive self-talk. By reducing stress and anxiety in your life, you'll start to feel more relaxed and happier.

Guess what all of the above strategies do for your neurogenesis? You get more of it.

Never heard of neurogenesis? That is the growth of new neurons daily. Not sure about you, but when it comes to brains, I think bigger is better.

What slows, stops, or harms neurogenesis? Stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol which flood into your body too often, or stay there because you have learned that stress hormones can increase production in the external world which may earn you more money.

Are you in the market for some industrial strength tools for reducing stress and anxiety?

I think the first and most important tool is to manage my thinking, (you have 60,000 thoughts per day) and I need to create many repetitions of short little phrases, like "gratitude is the attitude', each of which will change the chemistry of my body from adrenalin and cortisol to DHEA, the antiaging hormone.

The Quick Coherence Tool which is part of the heart rate variability biofeedback package is another example of a quick little mental and imaginal check list which I can run through quickly, when I need to take a break, which will change the chemistry in my body, and I also need to remember that each time I create relaxation, I am encouraging my brain to grow new neurons.

I have used the heart rate variability biofeedback tool for about 11 years personally and professionally and I am sold on it because of the biofeedback on the computer screen. I have the amazing capacity to convince myself that I am better at a skill than I really am, and the computerized biofeedback is a great teacher.

But once I have learned that skill, I can replicate it without the computer and trust that I am really getting the process done.

And from a place of relaxation, the neurogenesis is so much stronger. Pretty important if your brain, like mine, is a 62 year old brain.