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Overcoming Stress

According to Holdenqigong.com "Stress is your experience of your nervous system reacting to something that is perceived as threatening. At its strongest point, stress is your “fight or flight” mechanism that helps keep you safe when your life is in danger." As MedlinePlus states "Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body's reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.


Your body reacts to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones make your brain more alert, cause your muscles to tense, and increase your pulse. In the short term, these reactions are good because they can help you handle the situation causing stress. This is your body's way of protecting itself.


When you have chronic stress [longer term], your body stays alert, even though there is no danger. Over time, this puts you at risk for health problems, including:

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart disease

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Depression or anxiety

  • Skin problems, such as acne or eczema"

Holdenqigong.com suggests the following ways to overcome stress:


"Step 1: Notice: It’s important to become sensitive of when you’re feeling stressed. Sometimes, it can be difficult to pause and notice these things when you’re in the midst of a busy day and have a lot on your plate. However, if you don’t bring your awareness to your state of being, you’re going to be powerless to do anything about it.


Just like how in Qi Gong you work with your mind in order to become aware of the energy in your body, you must learn how to do the same when you aren’t in a dedicated Qi Gong practice.


If you find it difficult to notice when you’re feeling stressed, perhaps try to put a sticky note on your desk, computer, or other place where stress often comes up for you. This will help to remind you to check in with yourself and realize what is true for you.


Step 2: Label: Once you’ve stopped and noticed that something doesn’t feel quite right, try to label your experience. Perhaps say to yourself, “I am feeling stress in my body,” or “My mind is experiencing anxious thoughts.” 


By putting a label on your feelings, you are able to create a separation between yourself and your experience. Instead of being the feeling, you are now viewing it as something distinct from yourself that can be transformed. This makes it easier to accept and work with.


While this process is very effective for managing stress, it is also a great way to identify all feelings that you may experience. When you realize that you’ve been emotionally activated, noticing and labeling your feelings is a powerful step towards moving through them and returning to harmony. Anger, sadness, frustration, and stress are all experiences that can be labeled and worked with.


Step 3: Do Something Physical: We mentioned earlier that stress is a physical response to your environment. That means it’s something that is experienced within your body and not just your mind or emotions. Therefore, it’s important to recognize that you can’t “think” your way out of a stressful state. Your brain may be useful for thinking through math problems, but stress can’t be solved in the same way.


When you’re feeling stress, it’s a good idea to take a break from whatever you’re doing and move your body. Exercising, doing Qi Gong, or taking a brisk walk are great options. By moving your body, you’re able to cycle through your nervous system’s sympathetic response and return to a more grounded state. 


It can often take between fifteen and thirty minutes for your body to calm down and start to relax, depending on your level of stress. If you find your mind starts to wander during your movement activities, just try to notice and bring it back to the present moment. Seek to be aware of your physical sensations and work with the energy in your body rather than focus on your thoughts.

 

Step 4: Take Slow, Deep Breaths: After spending fifteen to thirty minutes moving your body, it’s time for some slow, deep breathing. Stand or sit in a comfortable, upright position and start to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It can be helpful to place one hand on your lower abdomen and the other on your chest so you can feel your lungs expand and contract with each breath. 


On your inhale, breathe in through your nose, bringing fresh, nourishing energy into your body. On your exhale, release the air out through your mouth as you let go of any stress or anxiety. Don’t be afraid to make a loud, audible sound on your exhale as you visualize yourself letting go of anything you don’t want. For many people, this comes out as an “aaaaahhhhh” sound.


Taking slow, deep breaths is a wonderful way to continue letting go of stress and cultivating the energetic state that you wish you experience. Try to bring you attention and awareness to each breath in order to enjoy each moment as fully as possible. 


Step 5: Reorient and Set an Intention: Once you feel that you’ve cleared most of the stagnant energy from your mind and body, it’s time to reorient and set an intention for the experiences that lay before you. Even if you have some challenging tasks ahead, you always have a choice about how you want to feel as you go through your day.


Now that you’ve cleared stress and become aware of how you feel, you’re in a great position to find a new way of navigating through the world. Instead of allowing your mind to be in a reactive state, you can set an intention to embrace the day with inspiration and optimism.

 

To do this, imagine the feelings and mindset that you want to experience moving forward. At this point, don’t think too much about what you have to do, but rather, focus on how you want to feel. Envision yourself composed, confident, and ready for what the world has to offer. Continue breathing as that vision grows within your heart and mind.


After focusing on the feelings you want to experience, start to imagine yourself going about your day and accomplishing your goals. Instead of focusing on the problems that previously caused you stress, try to imagine yourself finding solutions. A positive and confident outlook can go a long way in helping you succeed in whatever you’re doing.


These simple techniques are a great way to turn your day around whenever you notice that stress and anxiety is getting the best of you. Sometimes, all it takes is realizing your emotions and dedicating thirty minutes to shifting your energy. Even if you can’t immediately change

your environment, there are usually ways you can improve your experience of your environment."

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