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Chronic stress

Ten Instant Stress Relievers to Manage Today’s Economic Crisis

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 by: Roger Harris
Tags: chronic stress, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Can financial woes make you sick? The stress associated with our economy's recent meltdown cannot be entirely eliminated, but can be controlled by practicing time-proven stress management techniques to protect the health of ourselves and our families.

A new survey in October by the American Psychological Association shows that 80% of Americans cite the economy as a major stressor, up from 66% in April. It's important to not panic, not just because it leads to bad decisions, but also to bad health.

According to ancient philosophies, all illness is related to stress. The body's innate healing abilities can be restored by relieving the tension caused by physical, emotional, mental or spiritual stress, explains Serge Kahili King, PhD, a Hawaiian-trained shaman healer, author and world-wide teacher of the Hawaiian Huna philosophy.

Modern western medicine agrees that stress is a major precursor to illness, accounting for 60-90% of doctor's visits according to Herbert Benson, MD, of Harvard Medical School's Mind/Body Medical Institute.

The body's stress responses can be measured; overproduction of fight-and-flight hormones such as cortisol can increase heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar, inhibit digestion and immune response and even reduce the amount of collagen in the skin, increasing the signs of aging. According to a 2007 report from the Mayo clinic, chronic stress can cause ill health effects ranging from stomach aches, diarrhea and irritability, to insomnia, depression, high blood pressure, chronic pain, obesity and diabetes.

So how do you minimize the stressful effects of a shrinking retirement account or a paycheck that buys less and less? Ann Doherty, RN, CDE, Manager of the Alta Bates Summit Diabetes Center in Berkeley, California, teaches "The Art of Stress Management" at her yearly Hawaii retreats (www.HawaiiHealthGetaway.com). She recommends practicing one or more of the following suggestions:

1. Deep breathing – In Hawaii, they call it Piko-Piko, breathing in from the top of your head and out your navel, moving your attention from one energy center to another. "Just one minute of any kind of deep belly breathing will stop the stress response," explains Doherty. "We've found that even a 30-second breathing exercise at the start of a meeting or activity can create a more calm, relaxed and productive atmosphere."

2. Gentle yoga stretches – Relieve the tension building in your body with a few spinal twists at your desk after checking your stock portfolio, back or side bends while you wait in line at the bank, or neck rolls when you feel financial pressure turning into a headache.

3. Mindful meditation practice – using nalu (a form of shamanic meditation), focus on something beautiful, breathing in the beauty and breathing out your stress, for a minute or until you feel sensations of relaxation or energy. According to Dr. King, when you reach this "still point," you are in direct contact with your "higher self" and it is a good time to ask and receive guidance from your "inner knowing."

4. Daily exercise – get out of your mind and into your body to allow the tension to dissipate. "Anything that increases movement is beneficial: walking, dancing, cycling, hooping, jumping rope -- use your imagination, remembering your childhood passions," advises Doherty.

5. Positive affirmations – Work with your mind, repeating optimistic affirmations like "I am strong and secure," or "I have everything I need to succeed," or Doherty's favorite, "At the center of life's storms, I stand serene," to counter anxious thoughts.

6. DynaMind, taught by Dr. King at the Hawaii Health Getaway, is an effective mind-body healing technique. To relieve any tension or pain, say "I feel _______ in my _______ and I know that can change." Then tap seven times on the middle of your chest, the web between your thumb and index finger on each hand, and the bone at the base of your neck. Then inhale with your attention focused on the top of your head and exhale with your attention on your toes. Results are often dramatic, as documented in King's book "Healing for the Millions." For more complete instructions, see www.huna.org.

7. Get adequate sleep. Most people require 7 or 8 hours/night for optimal health and clear thinking, Doherty reminds her patients and staff.

8. A balanced diet is essential, says Doherty, to maintaining mental as well as physical health, but is often one of the first things to go when we're under stress. She suggests "keeping the pantry and freezer (at work and at home) stocked with healthy choices. Carrying a snack bag of veggies, whole grain crackers and bean dip, fruit and cheese, a cup of yogurt, or an energy bar can keep the fast food, candy and donuts from tempting us throughout the day."

9. Enjoying leisure activities with family and friends, says Doherty, is important in maintaining healthy relationships and has been shown to reduce the negative impact of stress, and help us in developing resiliency under pressure. If you are experiencing a financial problem of crisis proportions, reach out to family and friends for support, and also seek the advice of an expert financial planner.

10. When all else fails, make yourself laugh, by remembering a funny joke or situation or simply by forcing a laugh that will soon turn real. It will stimulate your digestion and breathing and raise your spirits too.

Try to incorporate some of these stress management techniques into your day. They can revitalize you in any situation and keep you open to new inspiration on how to remain afloat financially.


About the author

Roger Harris is a writer and environmental advocate living on the Big Island of Hawaii. He has formed a network to provide alternatives to pesticides and chemicals, www.GreenerWorld.net to help the citizens of Hawaii and the world choose a healthier future.

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