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Dealing With Stress…Control Yourself!

July 6, 2015

In my newsletter, I touched on the idea of helping yourself keep stress (and, in turn, blood pressure) down. We all have stress in our daily life, but we can deal with it in a positive way! You will never be able to avoid stress altogether, so might as well learn ways to help yourself cope. OF COURSE MASSAGE IS GREAT… but you can do some things between sessions to keep levels in check:

  • BREATHE!  I know it sounds silly, and you’ve heard it a million times, but attentive breathing is the #1 best (and cheap) thing we can do to reduce the effects of stress and you can do it anywhere, anytime!! 3 deep belly breaths in a moment of chaos can truly help you refocus and move forward in a more positive manner. Whether you are at work, in traffic or dealing with spouse or kids, attentive breathing circulates much needed oxygen to your brain and muscles! There are many techniques on focusing on your breath, I can give you some basics or If you’d like a more structured way of learning, there are places that teach breathwork. One I know of is Bob Sima. You can learn more about what he offers  on his website and ask him for details on when and how you can set up a session for you or even a group! Also, some Kundalini and Restorative yoga classes include breathwork. If you know of other classes in the area, please let me know so I can share!!
  • MEDITATION!  Sure do hear about this a lot nowadays, but it is an ancient practice (yes, practice, as in you never stop learning!) and there are myriad different ways to go about it! Traditional meditation, guided meditations, walking labyrinths are just a few options. There are lots of choices out there, you just need the one(s) that work for you!    If you’d like to practice traditional Buddhist meditation, Gampopa Center in Eastport is a wonderful little haven. There you can learn beginning practices (preliminaries) and more with a warm welcoming sangha and Lama Phurbu Tashi Rinpoche when he is in town!   Another local option is Julie Blamphin with Stretch Your Spirit Yoga. In addition to her group and one-on-one yoga classes, she offers guided meditations- check out more here.  Yet another option is daily-delivered-to-your-inbox meditations through various online groups- usually 21 day programs that are free for the daily use and only charge if you want unlimited, ongoing use of them (as in a download or CD). Chopra Center (with Oprah & Deepak Chopra) -the website also offers some stand alone guided meditations you can access whenever , The Mentor’s Channel offers several  21 day programs periodically, you just sign up with your email and when a new program is starting they will let you know and you just register- it’s FREE for the daily send. If you want to, you can purchase the program so you can listen to it whenever and as long as you want. When you go to the website, you’ll see options to join the club (for a fee) or for FREE access.
  • TAI CHI! This is a great way to get your body moving and learn to breathe and connect at the same time…and is good for all ages!! There is a class taught by Jan Graves at Shakti Studio in Cape St. Claire on Tuesday afternoons good for beginners and designed by the Arthritis Foundation. Also,  The Anne Arundel Medical Center offers an 8 week session of classes- (I’m not sure on starting dates so check the website!)
  • NATURE! Another free, easy and immediate  reliever of stress is simply going outside. Listening to birds, walking in the woods or just watching the water or the clouds can instantly help to calm and soothe.
  • FOOD! There is plenty of research showing what you eat can affect your mood. Serotonin is the happy hormone our body releases, but sometimes we aren’t efficiently producing it!  You can boost levels by making sure you have appropriate levels of B vitamins, essential fatty acids, L-theanine & magnesium. Check this site out for examples of foods you can get these vitamins and minerals from.  If you are interested, I also know a local group that is starting up to help balance your mood with your food. Let me know and I can give you more info!!
  • SMILE & HUG!  No, Really! Whether real or fake, smiling releases ‘happy hormones”- When your facial muscles used in creating a smile are engaged, your brain is triggered into releasing endorphins- which in turn lowers your cortisol levels!!   They’re  also contagious, so spread smiles all around!!!  And Hugs? Hugs release oxytocin and dopamine (see below) which are both mood lifters and stress calmers! Amazing!Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for us all being here today. You see this little gem is released during childbirth, making our mothers forget about all of the excruciating pain they endured expelling us from their bodies and making them want to still love and spend time with us.

    When we hug someone, oxytocin is released into our bodies by our pituitary gland, lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

    In addition to releasing Oxytocin, hugs also stimulate brains to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Dopamine sensors are the areas that many stimulating drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine target. Fortunately, we’re never going to see D.A.R.E posters with “The Faces of Hugs” showing the downward decline of the chronic hugger.

    I know I’ve mentioned some of these before, but it’s SO important I thought it worth the repost!!

    Give some of these a try and see what works for you!


Jennifer Sage ~ owner of SagesMassage

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