Stress relief is as easy as ABC

Stress relief is as easy as ABC

The Centers for Disease Control reports that between 75 to 90 percent of all visits to the doctor are stress related.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that between 75 to 90 percent of all visits to the doctor are stress related.

by Carol E. Gutierrez  — 

The Centers for Disease Control reports that between 75 to 90 percent of all visits to the doctor are stress related. And although we all have time-saving devices and appliances, time seems to be moving faster. We have less time to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet that can create the space for relaxation and rejuvenation.

The physical effects of stress include increased levels of cortisol that can raise blood sugar, increase fat deposits around the belly (a risk factor for heart disease) and weaken the immune system, thus opening the door to more serious disease states. Mentally and emotionally, stress can create anger, depression, anxiety, irritability, frustration, a lack of focus, insomnia and low self-esteem.

Having tools available to manage stress is a lifesaver — literally. These tools are simple, portable and require minimal practice to be effective. It is as simple as ABC.

A — Awareness. Most of us experience a physical symptom of stress that acts as an alarm to let us know when something feels off balance. It might be stomach tightness or uneasiness, tight shoulders, a headache or a warm flush. Many other physical reactions are possible, but keep in mind there can also be other reasons for the symptoms.

It is your job to learn how your body reacts to stress. When you become aware that your body’s stress signal is active, check in with your thoughts. Most of the time, the mind operates on autopilot, and an awareness of the thoughts that are processing at the present time is not there. It is like there is a man behind the curtain running the show.

Notice the symptom and check in with your thoughts. If you find a negative thought running, stop that thought and change it to a positive one. For example, if you find yourself becoming upset with a co-worker, replace the negative thought to “he is doing the best he can.” Have empathy and notice how much better you feel by simply changing your mindset.

B — Breath. The great thing about using your breath as a stress reliever is that it is a tool you always have with you wherever you go. Our society tends to be made up of shallow breathers and, when we are stressed, our breathing becomes even more shallow. Try to incorporate a deep sigh, which provides more oxygen, thus bringing relief to stress and anxiety.

The easiest way to use the breath as a stress-reliever is to simply focus on the breath as it goes in and out. No need to even change how you breathe; just put your focus there. This brings the mind to the present moment, as it provides an anchor for it. Notice how the chest rises and falls effortlessly. Feel the coolness in your throat as the air passes over it.

C — Centeredness. Once the mind is focused on the breath, take a moment to imagine that your feet are like the roots of a tree, going down deep into the earth. Bring the strength and calm of the earth up through your legs and up into your heart area. Breathe in the earth’s calming energy. Scientists have measured the earth’s energy frequency, and it is at the same level of energy at which healing occurs. Tap into it. Bring calm, healing energy into your body. Now with the breath and mind in the present moment and deeply connected to the earth’s energy, you are centered, quiet and calm.

The ABCs of stress relief — awareness, breath, centeredness — are simple tools that can be put into play within seconds.

The sooner the stress monster is tamed, the healthier you will become. Realize that not all motion is progress. When stress, tension and chaos surround you, just pause for a moment and relax.


Carol E. Gutierrez holds certifications in holistic nursing, massage therapy, clinical aromatherapy, healing touch, guided imagery and is certified as a stress management educator. She specializes in reflexology and toe reading. or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 3, June/July 2014.

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