Yoga, deep breathing, and “letting go” can be a big help.
A recent review of research into the effects of acute and chronic stress clearly—and consistently—identifies the damage it does to the immune system and cardiovascular health.
First, stress impacts endothelial (the inner lining of the blood vessels) function and the way the body responds to pathogens and toxins. One study at VA San Diego Healthcare System shows that psychological stress deactivates skin activity that normally offers resistance to bacterial infections—including super bugs like MRSA!
Next, stress damages natural killer cells and other immune defenses, leading to adverse health effects including the development of coronary artery disease. Finally, psychological stress increases production of substances that cause heart attack and stroke.
While most people recognize that 24/7 stress isn’t healthy, it’s often hard to find relief. There’s even a smartphone app to help map your mood—complete with a little cognitive therapy to help you cope.
Yoga is A Good Place to Start…
Research at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine at Ohio State University College of Medicine finds that yoga minimizes the body’s inflammatory response to stress, limiting dangerous stress-related physical changes. And a study in the Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine shows that yoga is as effective as other forms of exercise in improving overall health.
That’s one reason Yoga Quickies are now included as part of the Fat Flush fitness program. These yoga exercises can be easily incorporated into your regular routine for just a few minutes each day. Working out is a start, but it may not be enough if your emotions are constantly under assault.
Detoxify Your Emotions
Recognizing and honoring your feelings is an all-too-often overlooked but critical aspect of managing stress. The mind-body connection has been documented for years. In many cases, the body follows what the mind dictates.
I believe that the Bach Flower Remedies represent a form of psychotherapy in a bottle, a noninvasive modality to address negative emotional states like anxiety, depression, and impatience. Bach Rescue Remedy is, in fact, used in many emergency rooms around the country to help alleviate trauma.
A Welsh homeopath, Dr. Edward Bach recognized in the 1920s that, if herbs have healing powers, so must flowers. Over many years, he experimented with numerous flowers and trees to create a total of 38 plant-based Bach Flower Remedies.
In my own practice, I recommend a number of these remedies to clients. Here are some of the most helpful that deal directly or indirectly with the stress response:
- Centaury – for boundary issues, especially for people who give too much of themselves.
- Impatiens – for irritability and short tempers.
- Oak – for those determined types who struggle on (despite setbacks) through adversity or illness.
- Rock water – to ease tension for those who tend to be hard on themselves.
- Aspen – for when you feel fearful without knowing why.
Let It Go
Another essential part of detoxifying your emotions is learning how to remain calm and let a greater force take over. By breathing slowly and deeply, you are able to let go, release tension throughout your body, and even lower your heart rate.
While deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can all help you let go of whatever negative feelings and stress you hold within, I find the following words so helpful that I read these “letting go” reminders every day:
• To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring; it means I can’t do it for someone else.
• To let go is not to cut myself off; it’s realization that I can’t control another.
• To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
• To let go is not to deny but to accept.
• To let go is to fear less and love more.
In days of stress and anxiety, never forget to take time for yourself. Acknowledge what you do right and resolve in 2014 to use the most gentle and healing tools that empower your sense of wellbeing and serenity.
Have the most wonderful New Year filled with all that you wish for yourself and more!