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Learning to Combat Stress through Relaxation
By Alison Bennett, Atlantis Crystals

Stress is the result of an imbalance between the demands made on us by our environment and the personal resources we have to deal with these demands. 


These demands are not only caused by external events such as illness, unemployment, work, relationships, change of routine etc but also by the way we view these events - our attitudes and beliefs and expectations.

We also have to consider our personal resources and the demands being made on them which can be compared to a bank account.  If too many demands are made on the account, we go into the red and become overdrawn.  This is comparable to us being under stress.


Under normal circumstances, we cope with the everyday demands of life such as the maintenance of our job and relationships, which can be compared with the way our routine standing orders regularly diminish our financial accounts. 


It is only when extra stresses or demands come along that we can tip over into the red.  Sometimes a crisis may be the result of a last straw which tips the balance and we fall back into the red, resulting in more stress.

Our internal resources and our typical demands upon them:

Physical health - the demands of everyday life, emotional, physical, social etc.
Our skills and experience - how we adjust to new situations, work, unemployment, separation, illness, marriage etc.
Our attitudes and beliefs - our expectations about ourselves and others.
Our social support network Ė The ability to talk to our friends, family, partner etc.
Our ability to relax Ė can we switch off at night, making time for Ďmeí, meditation, yoga etc.

How to Recognise Physical Symptoms of Stress:
Head: This juts forward, chin tucked in, and if the positions are held for prolonged periods, this can lead to head and neck pain.

Arms: Shoulders are hunched upwards with the elbows bent and arms held into the body.

Hands: fingers and thumbs are held tight in a fist or grasp an object, some people put their hands in their pockets and constantly turn money over, or play continually with a ring.

Face: Jaw clenched tightly, teeth may grind especially at night, lips tightly closed, the tongue held to the roof of the mouth, the brows are corrugated and the eyes screw up.

Breathing: The breath is often held in an inward gasp or the breathing rate can be quickened, so that the upper chest moves rapidly up and down, the emphasis is always on the inward breath.

How to Implement Relaxation Techniques in Daily Situations:
These relaxation techniques have been given to help you relax in a quiet safe place.  It is more difficult to apply them in a stressful situation; however, this is not impossible.  Here are some guidelines of how to cope in daily life:

  • If you know that you are going to be involved in a situation that makes you tense and anxious, perform these relaxation exercises before you go.

  • Donít rush - take things slowly and calmly, donít walk too fast, donít try and do too many things at once, give yourself plenty of time to do things.  If you canít get everything done that you had hoped for, donít feel bad about it, just reassure yourself that you did your best.

  • When you start to feel tense, take some time out away from the situation that is making you stressed.  Sit or stand still somewhere quiet and focus all your attention upon contracting then relaxing each muscle in turn, starting with your feet and working upwards.  Do this until you feel calm again, do not force yourself to go back until you are ready to do so.

  • Watch your breathing, any symptoms of dizziness, and any weakness of the legs, sweating and nausea which can all be brought on by rapid, shallow breathing.  If you get any of these sensations, then itís your breathing that you must control.  Just by being aware of it can help.

  • If you get palpitations then stop where you are and focus all your attention on that sensation.  Notice how your heart rate may increase initially, but you will find that it will gradually slow down.  Also check your breathing. 

  • When you have been through a stressful time, donít forget to give yourself time to unwind afterwards.  Even if you feel that you have coped with it very well, your body needs the relaxation - so settle down for at least half an hour every day and give yourself some quiet time just for you.

Symptoms of Being Under Immense Stress:
Anxiety is a state of fear.  It is the over-reaction of the mind in an effectual attempt to overcome a difficult environment.  Listed below are some of the symptoms you may experience when under immense stress, either consciously or subconsciously.

  • Feelings of being unable to cope.

  • Lack of interest in life.

  • A constant and recurring fear of disease.

  • Difficulty in making decisions.

  • A feeling of ugliness.

  • Dread of the future.

  • Difficulties in concentrating.

  • The inability to finish one task properly before starting another.

  • Feelings of having no-one with whom you can confide in.

How to Help Combat Stress:

  • Try to work no more than ten hours daily.

  • Have at least one and a half days away from work routine each week.

  • Eat slowly and chew your food well.

  • Practice relaxation and/or meditation at least once a week for no less than fifteen minutes each time.

  • Actively cultivate the habit of walking, talking and moving at a slower place.

  • Plan one 'away from it all' holiday each year.

  • If you are unhappy with work, take stock and look at the choices (retraining, new areas of work).

  • Have a regular massage or join a class.

  • Concentrate on the present, avoid the tendency to dwell on past events and future uncertainties.

  • Express your feelings openly and without antagonism or hostility.


Alison Bennett is a naturally gifted Reiki Master, Teacher and Spiritual Healer and regularly runs meditation workshops from her Atlantis Crystals business in Milton Keynes UK.

The above information should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.







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