alternatives for beating stress
Stress is the trash of modern life. We all generate it, but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it can pile up and overtake your life. Wellness coach and Lifeline advocate Tamra Mercieca takes a look at some alternatives for eliminating stress.
Meditation allows us to come home to ourselves, creating a boundary from the outside world. Meditation teacher and former Tibetan Buddhist nun, Arian Young says during meditation we alleviate stress by inducing the ‘relaxation response’, a term coined by well known cardiologist, Dr Herbert Benson, the pioneer behind meditation studies at Harvard Medical School.
“As the relaxation response switches off the stress response we begin to slow down excessive thinking, relaxing the body and calming the mind so we take on a state of being as opposed to a state of doing”, Young says.
Even in the 21st century, Young says we can use meditation to get us through our busy action packed day. “You can meditate for 30 seconds to one minute to help refresh and refocus in between tasks and duties, while a ten minute meditation daily will relax the body, sooth the nervous system and increase awareness.
HOW: Learning to meditate is often free or by donation through religious or spiritual communities. There are many paid courses and classes available too, or just go to www.meditation.org.au for free online lessons.
Forget the stage shows where people are made to quake like a duck, hypnosis is a therapeutic technique which has the ability to reduce the amount of stress you encounter. During hypnosis the health professional will induce trance in their patient then make hypnotic suggestions designed to change the way the brain interprets experiences.
In a recent study at Ohio State University, medical students were able to significantly reduce exam-time stress after learning hypnosis. Blood samples even revealed that the students’ immune systems became stronger the more they practiced. Once learnt, hypnosis is an inexpensive and easy technique that can be used to eliminate a wide variety of stressors such as health issues and negative habits.
HOW: You can go to a trained professional for hypnotherapy, invest in a CD for around $30 or learn self-hypnosis techniques.
Rescue Remedy has been described by some as yoga in a bottle. The homeopathic remedy is helpful in stressful moments to correct emotional imbalances. Dr Edward Bach created this formula from Bach Flower Essences some 80 years ago.
The makers say the remedies contain the energetic signature of the flower, which is transmitted to the user. It is used as an emotional ally for its calming and centering energy and is now relied on by people around the world to provide unconditional support during demanding times.
Rescue Remedy is world famous for quickly restoring inner calm, control and focus, and is becoming a handbag, desk drawer, luggage and glove box essential. The Bach Flower Essences are 100 percent safe, natural and easy to use.
HOW: You’ll find this yellow bottle in chemists and health food stores for under $20. Simply take five drops in the mouth three times a day. If you experience a sudden shock or bout of anxiety, take three doses five minutes apart.
Chances are, if you’re feeling stressed you’re probably having trouble in the sleep department too. That’s where acupuncture can help. Acupuncturist Adam Davidson
says inserting hair thin needles into the body calms the mind, enabling a person to ‘switch off’. It works by stimulating or sedating key points along the vital energy channels that flow throughout the body.
“When a person is able to rest their mind, their quality of sleep improves which sets the platform for clearer thinking. This in turn, enables a person to better process their problems and make more effective decisions,” Davidson says.
Acupuncture also eases muscle tension, another common symptom of stress, by increasing blood flow. But Davidson says the major bonus with acupuncture is that the effects are instant. “Most patients leave the clinic feeling an immediate reduction in stress, while others can take up to 24 hours to experience the results of their treatment, often after a better night’s sleep.”
While massage is effective in helping relieve the physical manifestations of stress, and meditation the emotional aspects, acupuncture is able to work on both at the same time. Davidson says one treatment is enough to noticeably reduce stress, but usually three or four sessions over two to four weeks is required for a more lasting effect.
HOW: Expect to pay between $50 and $80 per session. To find your nearest acupuncturist, visit: www.atms.com.au
Reiki gives you the space to step outside of the stressful situation, which is fundamental for gaining a new perspective. Practitioner Natasha Tay says when we are stressed the body reacts by not only causing tension, but physical and mental blocks as well. “Reiki helps alleviate these blocks by gently encouraging the smooth flow of energy needed for the body to regain balance.”
Compared to other treatments, Reiki is a non-invasive, deeply relaxing and nurturing experience, which allows you to remain fully clothed. The practitioner places their hands lightly on or above the body in a sequence of positions. “It works in a similar way to acupuncture minus the needles,” Tay says.
One treatment is good for a quick fix, but it can also be used on a more regular basis for stress prevention and to help maintain a sense of wellbeing.
HOW: Your average one hour session will set you back around $60. To locate a local reiki provider, go to: www.reikiaustralia.com.au
Other quick de-stress alternatives:
Aromatherapy: Try using five or six drops of lavender essential oil in a warm bath or put a couple of drops on a cloth and inhale from time to time during the day.
Herbal teas: Ditch the afternoon coffee for a cup of chamomile, passionflower, valerian or ginseng tea to calm the body.
Get your employer to help raise awareness of stress in the workplace by taking part in Lifeline’s annual fundraising event Stress Down Day on Friday 23rd of July. It encourages all Australians to de-stress, by wearing their slippers to work or dressing up or down. All funds raised go directly to sustaining Lifelines Crisis Support service 13 11 14. To register, go to: www.stressdown.org.au
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