Stress by itself is not necessarily bad – depending on how much stress and how we react to it. Too much stress contributes to a lot of our physical ailments, including cancer, heart disease, and many other diseases. Our psychological well-being is also threatened by stress, which can cause anxiety and depression, among other mental problems.
Stress comes from many sources – financial problems, relationship problems, stress at work, fighting traffic, noise, even getting ready for a vacation. People react to stress in diverse ways, and some handle it better than others. Too much stress can cause you to be tired all the time, depressed, and withdrawn. You might develop skin problems or other annoying physical symptoms, get headaches and digestive problems, and lose your appetite and your sex drive.
Another common source of stress is major life events, such as divorce, the death of a spouse or other loved one, losing your job, or even just a major change of your daily routine. Too many of these major events in too short of a time may give you significant physical or psychological symptoms.
The body reacts to stress by releasing hormones that have the effect of lowering your white blood cell count, which in turn weakens your immune system. This process is more commonly known as the “fight or flight” response. Even though most of us seldom if ever find ourselves in a truly life-threatening situation, our bodies become accustomed to being in a constant state of low-grade emergency response. This takes its toll over time.
There are several proven methods for relieving excess stress, all of which also help with the anti-aging process. One is exercise, which we have already talked about earlier. Even a simple walk will help relax you and clear your mind.
Here are some other relaxation methods:
Deep breathing: It may sound ridiculous to say that you need to learn how to breathe, but many of us have unconsciously learned poor and inefficient breathing habits, learned from years of being constantly stressed out. When you are feeling especially anxious, just find a comfortable place to sit, and take slow, deep breaths. Count slowly from 1 to 4 while you inhale, and then exhale just as slowly, again counting to four. Do this for a few minutes, and the extra oxygen in your body will make you feel relaxed and refreshed.
To rephrase an old cliché, you are what you think. Try and catch yourself next time you start thinking anxious, angry, or otherwise negative thoughts. Your emotions follow your thoughts, and you will begin to feel anxious, angry, and negative. To counteract this, find a comfortable, quiet place to sit, close your eyes, and see in your mind’s eye a place (either real or imagined) that makes you feel relaxed, safe, and happy. It does not really matter what you imagine, if it makes you feel good. As your mind calms down, your body will, too.
In addition, you can put on a CD, tape, or MP3 of relaxing music while you are visualizing. Meditation: Meditation is a huge subject that we will cover briefly here – you can find plenty of additional information and techniques online or at your local library. Various forms of meditation have been used around the world for thousands of years. Frequently, it has been part of religious and spiritual practices, but you can also use it for simple relaxation and stress reduction.
Meditation really is not particularly complicated. The main idea is that you consciously relax your entire body while concentrating all your mental focus, like a laser beam, on one thing. This focus can be on an object (such as a burning candle, for instance), or a sound, or even your own breath. The main goal is to concentrate on the chosen thing for a sustained period. This keeps your mind occupied and helps quiet down the incessant monkey-like chatter that normally occupies our minds from the moment we awake in the morning until we fall asleep at night. You become calmer and your body gets a chance to recuperate from the everyday stresses.
Some ways to get started meditating:
- Find a meditation technique or style that fits your personality and does not conflict with your beliefs. You can incorporate a meditation session into a yoga or tai chi routine or use it as part of your morning and evening prayers.
- Make meditation a set part of your day and your life. Take it slow and easy at the beginning. You are doing well if you can do it for five minutes once or twice a day. As you get comfortable with the procedure, work your way gradually up to 20 minutes at a time. You can set a clock nearby within your peripheral vision or set an alarm that is not too loud and jarring.
- Be persistent, the results may not happen instantly. Take it easy on yourself, too. It does not make too much sense to get stressed out at yourself because you are not relaxing quickly enough! While you are trying to concentrate on your chosen object, your mind will inevitably wander constantly. That is fine; just gently return your focus to the object.
Meditation is one of the simplest and cheapest therapeutic stress-reduction techniques around. You can do it anytime. It just requires a little bit of time and practice.
Now It is Up to You
The wonderful thing about all the anti-aging techniques is that you can use any of them individually, and it will be effective in your life.
But if you use more than one of them, or all of them, the effect is much greater than the sum of the individual parts.
There is a synergistic effect, with each technique in your strategy mutually and simultaneously strengthening the others.
Eating right gives you more energy, which makes you feel more like exercising, which gives you even more energy, which reduces your stress and relaxes you, which makes meditation that much more effective…you get the idea.
You should have plenty of ideas now about how you can slow down, halt, and even reverse the aging process in your body and mind.
Good luck, good health, and have a long and happy life! Coyalita
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