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Summer is not always the easy, care-free time that it once was. Now, I sometimes find myself wanting tips on how to manage stress when there are only 2-3 minute bursts of quiet.
The craziness of summer, which for me includes my son being home from school, my husband running day camps, getting our warehouse ready for sale, finishing our new home renovations, and packing to move into that new house, means I have unfortunately not been able to spend much time writing. (Let alone finding those tips to manage stress and sharing them with you all.) Not writing means I haven’t published new content for you in about a month.
I didn’t want to start July the way I finished June, so when the opportunity for a guest blogger presented itself, I thought it might be a great way for you to hear a new voice, while getting some great mindset tips.
Robin Judd is a social worker who has studied mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR), and has found mindfulness techniques useful in treating clients with anxiety.
I was honored when she asked to write a guest post for us, and was quite excited that she wanted to share some tips to manage stress for people who don’t have much free time on their hands. Oh, she also happens to be my mom, so I’m even more excited to be able to share her wisdom with you, in her own words.
Using Our Mind/Body Connection to Help Manage Stress
It’s been great watching Rachel’s blog grow and reading the informative articles that she has written. So I was flattered that she would allow me to do guest article for her. In looking at her articles, and in particular the ones about what she’s been through in her life, one thing that stood out for me was the importance of the mind/body connection in helping her, and all of us, through what life throws our way.
Even life at its best can be stressful at times, right!? Stress increases the cortisol levels in our bloodstream. In small doses, with time-limited stressors, this is not a big problem. But with ongoing stress, and long-term cortisol release, many other problems can occur like increased anxiety or depression, digestive problems, sleep problems, moodiness, and trouble concentrating to name a few.
Stressors can include health issues, financial issues, relationship issues, etc. and often there is little we can do to fix the problem quickly. And that feeling of not being in control of the problem just adds to the stress! What we can control though is how we respond to the stress.
Think about some of the physical reactions we have when stressed.
Our muscles tighten, our stomach can be in knots, breathing becomes more shallow and rapid, maybe we clench our fists more, our brains become fuzzy and full of “what-ifs.”
Where in your body do you hold your tension? In your neck, stomach, back? Strange as it may seem, one of the best ways to manage stress is to release the tension that we feel. Basically, we need to undo the physical reactions that the stress is causing and this, in turn, helps to clear our thoughts and improve our mood.
I know, sounds crazy, but it’s true! Rachel has shared before the benefits of meditation, yoga, and of course how much running has helped her. The reason these things work is because you are releasing the tension from your muscles.
These are important practices to get into. But what if you don’t have time for meditation or yoga? Or you’re not a runner? There are other simple things you can do.
Every now and then during the day get out of your head and check in with your body.
Is there tension? If so, where? Are your hands clenched into fists? Open them and turn them palms up. This is a posture of grace and acceptance and peace. Take several slow deep breaths: breath in for a count of 4, then out for a count of 6. How do you feel now?
Do you find yourself frowning all the time?
Are your jaws clenched? Open your mouth wide and stretch your jaws out. Then move into what is called a “half-smile.” This half-smile expression has been shown to relieve tension and to help let go of anger. This might be a good time to recite some of the positive affirmations Rachel has talked about previously!
There are many other things you can do to manage stress and help your body heal your mind, but the basic idea is “move a muscle, change a thought.”
Try some of these ideas yourself and let us know in the comments if they work for you!
Thanks for reading!
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