Chronic Stress: How To Get Rid Of It

CHRONIC STRESSChronic stress. It’s everywhere. If you live and work on this planet it’s almost impossible to avoid.

Feeling stressed? Me too!

Today I’m writing about how to get rid of chronic stress and suggest some easy ways to get that burden off your back.

To get us in the mood, let’s start with a short, guided meditation and stretch video to help reduce chronic stress. Try it with me and see for yourself. You can do this at home or at your desk at work. (I use my ear buds at work.)

Now that you’re a believer, lets have a look at chronic stress and how to get rid of it. (By the way, as you get better at becoming relaxed, you can keep your eyes open while watching the waves on the video.)

Stress has been around since the beginning of time. It started as the fight-or-flight response when early humans confronted a life-threatening situation. In that situation, stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are produced. Your blood vessels constrict, blood pressure goes up, pupils dilate, heart rate quickens, and breathing becomes more rapid. The body is preparing itself to do battle or run. This response is essential in times of acute danger. But problems at work, crying kids, traffic, you name it can trigger the same response.

Given the pressures of daily life, chronic stress itself has become a life-threatening situation. It can cause a host of health problems including headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, trouble concentrating, anxiety, depression, increased body weight, high blood pressure and heart disease.

We can’t eliminate the stress. But we can relieve the fight-or-flight response that sends our bodies into danger mode. And we can cultivate a relaxation response over time that will reduce our physiological stress reaction.

So what do we do about chronic stress? How do we get rid of it?

How? Relax. That’s what my first yoga teacher used to say when I was all bent up in the pretzel pose with a grimace on my face. And, like that meditation you just did, it actually worked. Once I was able to relax, I was stress-free even in the pretzel pose.

Seriously, daily conscious relaxation exercises can make real difference in the way your body responds to stress. Dr Herbert Benson coined the phrase “relaxation response” in his book by the same name in 1975.

Since then he and others have conducted numerous studies, including a recent one at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine, that have detailed the body’s intricate positive response to conscious relaxation exercises. In a nutshell, the relaxation response has the opposite effect of fight-or-flight. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system to counteract the effects of stress. You experience a feeling of deep relaxation and well being. And if you practice relaxation regularly you’ll feel better and help yourself avoid those stress related health issues. That’s how we get rid of chronic stress.

Meditation is just one of an almost infinite number of ways to consciously relax. Virtually anything that takes your attention away from your daily grind and makes you concentrate on just one thing can work. Doing the dishes, aerobic exercise, yoga, stretching, golf, playing a musical instrument, casting a fishing rod, playing with a cat, almost anything can work if you pay attention to only that and clear your mind. I’m partial to exercise because I get the benefits of a workout as well as the relaxation. It’s my mantra. It’s what I do to get rid of chronic stress.

Dr. Benson suggests you practice some form of conscious relaxation for 10 to 20 minutes every day to get rid of chronic stress in the long-term.

But what if you’re pressed for time? (Pressed rhymes with stressed.)

Reduce Chronic Stress with this little exercise.

Sometimes you only need a few seconds and you feel a lot better.

Sit down and close your eyes. (If you’re on the street, duck into a doorway, stand and keep your eyes open and one hand on your purse.)

Let your muscles relax. Concentrate on your breathing.

Breathe in and hold your breath for one second, count one one hundred thousand, and breathe out.

Breathe in again a little deeper and hold for two seconds — one one hundred thousand, two one hundred thousand — breathe out.

Breathe in deeper and hold for three, then four, then five seconds.
When you get to around three seconds of breath holding, your stress level should start to drop and your mind should start to clear itself of thoughts.

After five, you should feel pretty good. This works well for me particularly in moments of acute stress.

That one worked too didn’t it. I hope concentrating on reading this helped you reduce your stress and I hope you’ll make conscious relaxation a part of your life.

It’s a lifestyle change that’s easy to make because it feels so good when you do it.

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Stretching Routines: Gogi Tendon Organs ?

Stretching Routines: What Do Your Gogi Tendon Organs Have to do with it?

Stretching RoutinesStretching: What Do Your Gogi Tendon Organs Have To Do With It?  
Here’s a little video with the answer.
Have you tried to pick a coin up off the ground lately? How about tying your shoes? Have you switched to slip-ons? What about reaching over the coffee table to scoop some dip on the other side? Remember when you didn’t think twice about those maneuvers?
Sounds like decrepitude is setting in. Or maybe you’ve just lost some Flexibility.Flexibility is range of motion around your joints.
There are two types. Static flexibility – how far you can stretch and hold a body part, and dynamic flexibility – how much range of motion you have when you move.
Both are important. In fact I consider Flexibility one of the 3 main components of fitness, along with Aerobic Capacity and Muscle Strength.
I recommend a flexibility program that incorporates slow dynamic movements like Tai Chi, as well as static stretches like Yoga.But in my experience, Flexibility is the most ignored component of fitness. We do our Cardio and our Strength training but, unless we’re regular Yoga or Tai Chi, practitioners, Flexibility is not on the menu.
Why not? I think there are a couple of reasons. First, I think we don’t get it.It doesn’t make our muscles stronger or our figures shapelier. We don’t realize how valuable flexibility is until we try to do something we used to take for granted, like reach around to the back seat to get our sunglasses. Even then we toss it off with, “Well, I guess I’m getting older”. We somehow don’t connect with the thought, ” If I’d been doing a little stretching all these years, it wouldn’t have felt like I was going to rip something just then”.Secondly, there’s been lots of press about conflicting studies on the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of stretching.
Some studies say stretching improves athletic performance. Others say they’ve proved the exact opposite. Some studies say stretching helps prevent injury. Others say it has no effect on injury prevention. There’s enough conflicting buzz to make you not want to bother.That’s too bad because all that buzz masks the fact we do know stretching does help you gain and maintaining flexibility.
Does stretching help prevent injury or aid athletic performance? I DON’T CARE.
I want to stay flexible as I age. I want to be able to pick up coins, tie my shoes and grab my sunglasses. Give me my dose of flexibility training!Even if we were flexible as kids, as we get older, connective tissues, our tendons and ligaments, tend to lose water, shorten, and become stiffer. So we get less flexible. But it’s not too late.

Even if you’re not interested in the fine practice of Yoga or Tai Chi, barring some medical issue, there’s a simple way to help hang on to the flexibility you have, and work on getting some of that youthful flexibility back. A few easy stretching exercises may be the difference between living tight and living flexible.

I stretch every day. Easy for me to say, I teach a stretch class. But just a few minutes, three times a week, can make a real difference. I’ve seen students of mine go from really stiff to pretty darn flexible in a few months, without trying hard.

Stretching, when done right, feels delicious while you’re doing it, and even better when you’re done. The kind of stretching I do is relaxing and meditative. I find it melts my stress and energizes me while keeping me flexible. I’ve developed a stretch exercise technique I call Moving Free. It’s evolved some over the 30 years I’ve been teaching it. I use a fusion of modified static stretches from Dance, Yoga and classic fitness as well as dynamic movements adapted from Dance and Tai Chi and Kinesiology.

Here’s a video with some lower body stretches you can try at home.

As if that weren’t enough, There’s more to stretching than just flexibility. I think stretching is a form of meditation that creates a sense of well-being and promotes peace of mind. When I finish my stretching routine I have a more positive outlook as well as the feeling that my body is more alive, more accessible to me. Try it and see.

Chances are that pretty soon you’ll be able to find your shoes simply by looking down.

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Becoming Flexible

So what is flexibility? Flexibility is range of motion around your joints. There are two types of flexibility. Static flexibility – how far you can stretch and hold a body part and dynamic flexibility – how much range of motion you have when you move. Both are important to becoming flexible. You need a flexibility program that incorporates slow dynamic movements like Tai Chi, as well as static stretches like Yoga or Stretching routines.

Muscle fibers can become misaligned during normal movement. Our muscles produce chemical waste products when they work. These chemicals need to be eliminated so they don’t build up and cause aches and soreness. Also, as we age, are connective tissues; tendons and ligaments tend to shorten and become stiffer. That’s why we become shorter and less flexible as we grow older. These connective tissues require as much maintenance as our muscles do. Stretching helps maintain them.

Muscles can’t stretch themselves; they only know how to contract and relax.

In a perfect world that would be enough but the fact is relaxed muscles never completely relax because there are neurological receptors in our muscles and connective tissues that keep them poised for action like a race car at the starting line.

This is a good thing because it keeps us upright while standing and our heads from falling into our plates when we eat our dinner.

Becoming Flexible

Muscles are bundles of protein fibers sort of like bunches of elastic celery. They are attached to bones on both ends by a network of tough connective tissues called tendons. Tendons are neither bone nor muscle. Although tendons are somewhat elastic, they can only be stretched about 4%. Muscles on the other hand are capable of stretching over 50% of their normal length.

When we stretch a muscle and deliberately hold it for a few seconds, proprioceptors in the tendons, called gogi tendon organs, tell the muscle to relax, not contract and we are able to hold the stretch and even stretch out a little further.

Becoming Flexible

So try becoming flexible with a little Tai Chi –like movement to lubricate your joints and raise your core body temperature then do static stretches. Hold the stretch for a few seconds to allow those gogi tendon organs to kick in and then try to stretch and hold a bit further.

Becoming Flexible Can Help Reduce Stress

There’s more to stretching than just flexibility. Stretching is a form of meditation that creates a sense of well-being and promotes peace of mind. One finishes a routine with a more positive outlook as well as the feeling that your body is more alive, more accessible to you.

Stretching can slow down your aging clock and help you stay fabulous forever.

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