Stress is a daily fact of life that cannot be avoided. Almost every day we are confronted with a constant barrage of potentially stressful experiences that arise when we are required to cope with the changes, demands or expectations in our family, work and/or social interactions. It is, however, the manner in which we perceive and handle our stressors that ultimately determines the short- and long-term impact that stress will have in our lives. Stress reduction is essential because chronic stress has a significant negative impact on physical health, emotional stability and work performance.
When we encounter stress throughout the day, our nervous system jumps into overdrive. A stress response is basically the same as the ‘flight’, ‘fight’, 'freeze' response that occurs when we feel physically threatened. Under a threat condition the body releases chemicals and hormones that urge it to take action and to physically move out of harm’s way. Often, however, we are unable to indulge in the normal response because of the social norms that guide our behavior in varying settings. Rather than fight or flee, we must stifle our conditioned response.
This results in a buildup of chemicals and hormones that are not metabolized through physical movement as intended, but rather stay in the body for an extended period of time. This creates that feeling of anxiety and discomfort that we associate with stress and frustration. In addition to the emotional discomfort, the physical body suffers due to the effects of an almost continual stream of hormones in the bloodstream. There are many ways, however, to manage these effects so that they do not cause lasting harm.
An excellent way to combat both the short- and long-term effects of stress is through the regular use of relaxation techniques. Systematic stress reduction relaxation skills and techniques have been utilized for stress reduction in medical treatments in Western society for several decades and in other areas of the world for centuries. Extensive medical and psychological research has established that learning stress reduction skills and strategies has highly predictable, positive effects. These techniques allow the body to dissipate the chemical and hormonal buildup and also induce a peaceful state-of-mind. Engaging in regular stress reduction relaxation exercises can mediate the effects of weeks, months and even years of pent up bodily tension.
Our systematic relaxation program includes training in the three major areas of stress reduction: Progressive Relaxation, Autogenic Training and Mindfulness Meditation. These strategies are derived from health and wellness models of healing from various cultures, and are combined to afford an individual the training to utilize the techniques which are most effective and useful in a person’s life.
Systematically trained stress reduction skills have been demonstrated over many years of rigorous research to be helpful in the treatment of a host of medical conditions. A wide array of medical diagnoses are a direct or indirect result of chronically high levels of stress over prolonged periods of a person’s lifespan.
A chronic pattern of reacting to life stressors in a highly anxious, angry or hostile manner is a direct contributor to a host of serious medical conditions such as the following:
Physical & Medical Symptoms Associated with Stress
To effectively encourage stress reduction and to master anxiety we need to learn to activate the body’s natural stress reduction system. Learning to apply these techniques may take some education and support, but with practice they will become second nature. Engaging in relaxation exercises can improve long-term health and quality of life.