Turn Stress into Healing
Life is stressful. Thankfully, not all the time, but it can certainly be more than we'd like. Even positive events can be stressful, such as getting married or buying a home. Of course, difficult situations are plenty stressful, as well as times of change and facing the unknown. When I'm experiencing stress, I hone in on how it feels, or how I experience it. We each can experience stress differently. For me, one of the biggest things I notice is how my mind won't quiet down; incessant thoughts firing through the neural pathways. It generally keeps me up at night, which then leads me to feel exhausted and not as effective in handling daily activities. When I'm under stress, it also tends to bring up some physical ailment or discomfort. Lately, I've been experiencing headaches, lovely ones that last days. I can usually identify an area in my neck that is out of alignment or aggravated by too much computer time, which contributes to the headaches. Regardless, pain in some shape or form often accompanies stressful times. You might take a few moments to explore how stress manifests in your body. As we come to a deeper understanding of what stress looks like, we can be more effective at reducing it.
I've studied, practiced and/or taught yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises) for 15 years, and I feel I have several tools in my spiritual toolkit to help manage challenging times. I also find a lot of benefit from chiropractic care. In addition, what I find incredibly helpful is doing something physical, like yoga asana, hiking, or some simple exercises in the living room, or even dancing! Getting my body moving gets me out of my head. It feels like a huge relief, even if just for an hour, from the constant chatter. I like to include some free-form movement, such as gently letting the head sway from side to side, releasing the tight areas where stress settles in my neck, shoulders and between the shoulder blades. Or let the hips sway and free up the spine. The right music can provide a little motivation. Exercise gets the oxygen flowing, which sends healing to the sore spots. Outdoor exercise, such as hiking, has the added benefits of being in nature ‒ fresh air, sunshine, a sense of calm, and a chance to glimpse the wildlife. It's nice to be reminded how other animals are living out their day. Also, whatever mood I may have found myself in prior to getting outside is always brightened after a walk in the park.
One of the most compassionate things we can do during times of stress is give ourselves time, time to heal. Perhaps it's a couple days off work or just a morning to yourself. That precious time provides the opportunity to implement the practices which we've learned help us get through it. Stress is referred to as the silent killer. We cannot completely avoid stress, but we can minimize its deleterious effects and use it as a potent reminder... that it's time to take a break and get moving.
Wishing you ease and good health, Kristi Bowman
Photos by In Her Image Photography