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From Distress to De-Stress

Or, Balance in the Midst of Chaos

by Carolyn A. Romano, Bliss Healing Arts
December 2007

Stressed out woman in redGot stress?  You are not alone.  We all experience it, fight it, succumb to it, even sometimes wear it as a badge.  But perhaps it’s time to rethink our relationship with the stress in our lives if we want to be truly healthy. 

Did you know, for instance, that stress plays a role in virtually every disease process?  It’s true.  Did you also know that a lack of joy in our lives can lead to cellular inflammation, and that cellular inflammation is at the root of virtually every disease process?  Also true.  Never before have we had more evidence of the fact that the state of our minds affects the state of our bodies.  Yes, indeed:  our biography affects—and may even create—our biology!

“Uh oh,” you’re thinking, “I have so much stress in my life that I’m surely headed for an early, or otherwise untimely, demise.  I might as well give up now!”  Not so fast.  Hold on a minute.  I encourage you to reconsider.  Truly, I’m not trying to scare you by telling you all this; but I will admit that I wouldn’t mind if that first paragraph created some sense of urgency within you to seek more balance in your life.  It matters.  You matter.

I firmly believe that it’s never too late to improve your mental, emotional, spiritual or physical well-being.  You just need to learn (or remind yourself of) some time-tested tools of the de-stress trade.

1.  Learn to sit still.  Also referred to as meditation, sitting and being still is, in my opinion, one of the most underutilized—and mostMan with eyes closed effective—ways to improve your stress levels and overall health.  And I don’t mean, sit still in front of the TV.  I refer to taking a few moments (even 2 minutes if you are just starting out), to be quiet with yourself, to shut down your awareness of the outside world, and to focus on your breathing and the moment right in front of you.  You may even find that you like it!

2.  Learn some rituals.  Often synonymous with ceremony, a ritual at its core is really nothing more than a series of acts performed regularly in a set manner.  Your rituals can offer you a sense of predictability and security, two factors that do much to alleviate stress and calm our fight-or-flight response.  Whether it’s the same routine before bed every night, yoga without fail every Tuesday, or a 10-minute phone call to your best friend at lunch, you can get a lot of mileage out of creating and sticking to rituals that are meaningful to you.

woman receiving massage3.  Learn to release tension.  Fortunately, there is no shortage of ways to get the stress out once it’s gotten in!  Notice the healthy things that you are already doing to unwind or blow off a little steam, and keep doing them. If that’s not enough, begin to evaluate what else might help. Do you need to join a women’s group or schedule regular massages?  Does a workout at the gym or a long walk in nature ease your mind?  How about some progressive relaxation or guided imagery?   An aromatherapy diffuser in your car or lavender in your pillow?  Explore the myriad options available to you and see what sticks.

4.  Learn to be authentic.  I can think of few other things that cause as much stress as living a life that doesn’t reflect who you are at your core.  If that’s how you feel about your situation right now, I encourage you to think about making some changes.  If you feel too overwhelmed by even the thought of change, then simply start to cultivate a willingness for your life to be different, even if you have no idea how to make that happen.  My favorite mantras are, “I am willing.” and “Help me trust.”

5.  Learn to say no.   Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to make EVERYONE ELSE'S life easier at the expense of our own.  People will still like you if you don't jump to fix every one of their problems (well, most people anyway!). You don't have to answer the phone just because it's ringing.  You don't have to do double duty at home and at work.  Renegotiate terms if you have to whether with yourself or with others.  We teach people how to treat us.  If you are being taken advantage of, it's up to you to start defining some boundaries that protect your new commitment to balance.

woman with arms outstretched6.  Learn to let go.  I talk a lot about the concept of “surrender” in my work with individuals and groups.  Often it is the one thing that shifts a situation when all else fails.  Surrender doesn’t mean giving up or giving in; it simply means giving over.  The energy and time we sometimes put into trying to control a situation or outcome or person can put us in a state of chronic stress, burnout, and fatigue.  The process of letting go or surrendering allows the Universe to take over for a while so you can rest and regroup.  This not only helps you get some of your balance back, it can also make you feel incredibly free!

So hopefully most of you have read these suggestions and are ready to get started.  I suspect, however, that a few of you are resisting because you just don’t have time!  I have a suggestion:  Reread paragraph one above.  Repeat as necessary.  Remember:  It is the cumulative effect of our choices every moment of every day that create ease or dis-ease in our lives.  Commit to balance.  Find the time.  You are worth it.

For more information or to get started de-stressing, contact Carolyn at BLISS Healing Arts for your free, 30-minute consultation in person or over the phone.  508-481-BLIS (2547) or blisscenter@comcast.net


© 2007 Carolyn A. Romano.  All Rights Reserved.  www.blisshealingarts.com



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