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Learning Center Experience
By Holly Parker, MA Edu, BSHW
Stress is a normal part of a healthy life. We actually need
some degree of stress to function and accomplish tasks. However, repeated
exposure to stressful events without periodic breaks in between can have a
negative impact on the body and eventually cause pain and illness.
This source reports 75 to 90% of doctor visits are
directly linked to the stress we are dealing with in our lives. So how do we
reduce that staggering percentage in our own lives? We learn to take consistent
breaks throughout our workday to lower the stress load on our minds and bodies.
How about a brief but powerful list of a few stress
reduction exercises you can do whenever and wherever? You might start feeling
tense at your desk and realize you need a break. The line at the grocery store
might seem insurmountable, so take a stress break that only you know you are
taking. The carpool line at your child’s school might be moving more slowly
than your schedule would allow, so take a moment to reduce your stress. You get
the idea. Here’s the list:
1. Breathe–This one is simple and powerful.
You breathe all the time, it’s biologically necessary. You can breathe to
reduce stress and no one will even notice. Dr. Andrew Weil has a technique to breathe in
for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, let out for a count of 8. Davidji has a 16-second breathing exercise
that is short and sweet; breathe in for 4, hold for 4, and release for 4. It’s
also very easy to remember when you need it in a hurry. Breathe deeply for
maximum impact. Don’t take a shallow breath that only raises your shoulders. Breathe
from your belly, let your lungs fill and let your diaphragm
expand. You will feel the calming difference immediately.
2. Do The Windmill–Sometimes
when we are stressed out, we just need to get our circulation moving and we
feel better instantly. We don’t always have time to drop what we are doing and
go workout, but we can stand up, move a bit, and feel better. One quick
exercise we can do is the windmill. It’s so easy. Stand up, hands by your side,
feet flat on the floor. Raise both arms over your head and cross them at the
top and rise up to your toes at the same time. Now drop your arms down
windmill-style and bend your knees a bit, almost like you are going to sit in a
chair, but not quite that much. Repeat 5 times and you are all done. You will
be feeling refreshed and that stress will have floated away for a bit.
often conjures images of monks sitting in the lotus position for hours and
breathing incense, trying to reach some altered state. However, meditation can
help anyone in as little as 5 or 10 minutes a day and you don’t need to be a
religious person to reap the benefits. When using meditation for stress relief,
envision your brain as a toy top. When you feel stress, that top can seem wound
very tightly. You can really benefit from unwinding that top a bit and
relieving the tension in your brain.
You can meditate silently or listen to an
audio track from a site like calm.com where you can take a guided break
from 2 to 20 minutes in length. If you want to do this without audio, simply
sit in a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor. Close your eyes and
focus on one thing, perhaps counting from 1 to 10. When you reach 10, start
over again. You might do this 10 times and then see how you feel. The benefits of meditation are well documented. A
simple daily practice can do wonders for your stress management.
Give these exercises a try and see how you feel. Stress
impacts us all, but with a few breaks during the workday we might be able to
avoid some trips to the doctor and do something more enjoyable with our time!
Davidji. (2015). Softening to oneness. Retrieved from: http://davidji.com/softening-to-one-ness-weekend-meditation/
Goldberg, J. (reviewer). (2014). The effects of stress on
your body. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/effects-of-stress-on-your-body
Jabr, F. (2013). Why your brain needs more downtime. Retrieved
Weil, A. (2016). Breathing exercise: 4-7-8. Retrieved from: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/VDR00160/Dr-Weils-Breathing-Exercises-4-7-8-Breath.html
Wilson, P. (1995). Instant calm: Over 100 easy-to-use
techniques for relaxing mind and body. Penguin Group: New York, NY.
Holly Parker, MA Edu, BSHW is
a faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are
solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
Did you find this article interesting? If so, share it!
And if you are considering pursuing a health sciences degree, we invite you to find out more about Kaplan University's School of Health Sciences and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.
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