Stress can affect anyone one of us at any time, but the holidays seem to take the cake when it comes to being frazzled.
Harmful to your body, stress can take a toll on your sleep, digestion, mood, wellbeing and general health. Thankfully, you have inexpensive options that don’t even involve leaving the house to help keep you calm and able to enjoy every moment as it comes.
There are two parts to the human mind - the conscious and subconscious -explained Gail Elliott Patricolo, director of Integrative Medicine at Beaumont.
“The conscious mind is the verbal mind, which can be the irritating ‘monkey mind’ constantly chattering, where the subconscious mind is quiet and can’t talk back,” she said. “Because they are connected to your nervous system, when the monkey mind is chattering away, you can feel tense and your ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in, which can be harmful to your health, if you stay there too long.”
Guided imagery is a great way to ward off the effects of stress. Best of all, it’s easy to do at home, at the office or in a quiet area where you can take a few minutes for yourself.
“Listening to a guided imagery tool over and over, gives you the ability to help yourself. We need tools we can draw on ourselves, so finding one that’s right for you is important. There are CDs, apps, such as Insight Timer, as well as websites you can use.”
Mindfulness is another inexpensive, easy accessible way to refocus and enjoy the moment.
“The idea is to notice when the mind wanders off,” said Lucy Sternburgh, Ph.D., mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher at Beaumont. “If we’re replaying situations of the past in our minds, we’re wandering off. When the mind gets into planning mode of rehearsing what hasn’t happened yet, it can cause a sense of anxiety."
So, the benefit of being aware of the present moment, is you might notice a sense of being a little less stuck in the past, less anticipation about the future, and you can be a little more accepting of things just the way they are right now.
“Generally, the most common technique of practicing mindfulness is to be aware of the breath. Breathing with awareness and noticing it. It doesn’t have to be anything special. We can use it as an anchor to the present moment because we can’t breathe in the past or the future, we are breathing right now,” added Sternburgh.
“One of the best things you can do is breathe properly - slow diaphragmatic breathing. Most of us run around all day taking short, shallow breaths. Take a few deep breaths and you automatically move yourself out of the stress response,” Patricolo agreed.