Stress or relaxation, it’s your choice.

Think for a moment. When was the last time you relaxed? Can you actually remember what it was like?  Were you calm and collected?  Was your breathing normal?  Were your muscles loose and limp?

Most people struggle to remember a time when they truly relaxed. A holiday perhaps, a massage or spa treatment bought for you for your birthday. Relaxation shouldn’t be something you do annually or on special occasions, it should be something you allow yourself to do on a daily basis. That’s not to say you should have a massage every day, if you can great, but getting into the habit of relaxing even if it’s just for 10 minutes every day will have a dramatic impact on stress levels.

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If stress is allowed to build it can lead to worry, fear, feelings of anxiety and panic attacks. When you feel stressed your body increases production of the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine which trigger the start of the stress response or fight or flight response and similar to pushing that first domino, momentum soon gains and before you know it there’s dominos falling all around and stress levels are through the roof.

However, stress can be useful. It can motivate us, protect us from danger help us to achieve what we once thought unachievable but on going constant stress is a recipe for both physical and mental illness.

Suffering from stress is a little like giving your younger brother a piggyback. He keeps running and jumping on your back and you run around the garden joyfully laughing and joking until one day he runs and jumps and you fall flat on your face in the mud, well he is now 43 years old after all so what did you expect. Stress is a builder, it’s cumulative, it can go unnoticed and the tiniest thing can push you over the edge. As Many clients I see tell me the same thing; I can’t sleep at night, I feel tired all the time, I have the same recurring thoughts, I can’t seem to motivate myself. One of my first questions to them is; What do you do to relax?

To help reduce stress it’s important to relax. It really is that simple. You see, most of the time we have no control over the excessive workloads or the shopping bags that spilt or children who say they’re hungry as soon as they arrive home from school but, and here’s the but bit, what we can control the way we respond. The more we practice relaxing the more relaxed we become and the more relaxed we become the more control we have over our responses to stressful situations. So start practising relaxation techniques, exercise often, go for walks, join a Pilates or Yoga class, have a massage, try meditation, practice self-hypnosis or go to hypnotherapy relaxation sessions. Do whatever you need to do to help you relax because it’s a human phenomenon that you cannot be both stressed and relaxed at the same time and I wonder which one you would prefer to be?

To find out if exercise could with your stress read Pilates Coach Anna Ryan’s blog article Stress & Exercise

Read more about the role of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture in the management of stress by Nicola Rycroft

Yoga Instructor Julie Burrows gives her Top 10 Reasons for trying Yoga here, many of which are related to stress.