Stress Management Techniques
Although stress can take its toll on you, you can decrease its damaging effects by practicing methods to reduce it. Finding the right strategy is the key. You may find taking a walk in the country works well for you, while your best friend may find a hot bubble bath in candlelight works better. Just knowing you have the power to control your disease with strategies to reduce stress is a stress reducer in itself. Following are some Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) techniques to calm their stress triggers.
Do Daily Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness Practice is a technique designed to allow you to actively check in on yourself and refocus during the day. The practice is brief and does not require you to turn off your surroundings or focus inward. You may choose between Formal and Informal Mindfulness Practice. Also, try to practice one of the seven foundations of mindfulness practice on page 4. Following are directions for both the formal and informal types.
Formal Mindfulness Practice
Spend once or twice per day in Formal Mindfulness Practice. Reflect on all parts of your life (i.e., happiness and sadness, successes and challenges, pain and bliss, etc.). During the practice, spend five to 10 minutes being aware of your breath. You may use Diaphragmatic Breathing which is listed in the next section. Without changing them, be aware of stress reactions throughout the day. Notice what is happening if and when you feel “stuck” or unable to free yourself. Journal your experiences.
Informal Mindfulness Practice
Informal Mindfulness Practice is shorter than the Formal type. You may tune into your breathing four or five times during the day, but be mindful with one or two full cycles of breath. Choose a routine activity such as brushing your teeth, showering, or washing the dishes and be mindful during the activity. Also, pay attention to what you put into your body – including how much and why, as well as your reactions and effects.
Focus and Breathe
Two techniques you may use to manage stress are Diaphragmatic Breathing and Progressive Skeletal Muscle Relaxation.
In Diaphragmatic Breathing (DB), consciously inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth at the same time you are expanding your diaphragm.
Progressive Skeletal Muscle Relaxation
With Progressive Skeletal Muscle Relaxation (PSMR), visualize a word, phrase, or image that you feel is relaxing. With your entire body – from head to toes – tighten, hold for a few seconds, and then release groups of muscles one at a time. You may want to start from the top of your body and move down towards your toes, or vice versa. With this technique, do several sets until you are relaxed.
Another MBSR technique can help you release negative or self-defeating thoughts by releasing your negative thoughts and helping you into relaxation. For those who can’t sleep, this technique works especially well. Also, become aware of any self-defeating thoughts. Stress ignites with negative thoughts as we gain weight, acquire pain, and grow older. Try this technique if you’re saying things like “I’m too fat” or “I’m getting old.” To try this technique, get into a comfortable position and close your eyes. As the negative or self-defeating thought comes to you, imagine it drifting off like a cloud or sailing down a stream until you can no longer see it.
Keep a Journal
You can reduce stress and release any negative emotions like anger and anxiety by keeping a daily journal. A study conducted by the Southern Methodist University found that people feel a purpose and make positive life changes when they spend 20 minutes writing in a journal about their emotional circumstances.
When stress starts to build, a short brisk walk or meditative exercise such as yoga can relieve stress. One study published by the Annals of Behavioral Medicine suggests 90 minutes of yoga reduces perceived stress and cortisol levels. With a little determination, you too can find benefits through yoga. Try meditative or relaxing types of yoga like Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar, or Restorative.