Stressin’

Let’s talk about you for a minute.  Where are you right now?  Are you sitting at home, zoned out in front of the tv watching some reality debacle, the news, or sports? Are your co-workers, customers, or boss on your last nerve? Is your phone ringing, email chiming, doorbell ringing?  How was your drive today? Easy peasy or bumper to bumper? Is your home quiet or are you kids/spouse/pets driving you crazy?  All these questions are about people, things and events that are all tugging on you, draining you and stressing you out.

What is stress?
In a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure). Stress can initiate the “fight or flight” response, a complex reaction of neurologic and endocrinologic systems. In the long-term, stress can cause the following health problems.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

What can you do to make stress more manageable?
It may not be realistic to believe that we can live life in the 21st century free of stress. Individual wiring as well as environment play a role. There are a number of ways in which you can manage stress.  Begin by identifying  what your stressors are, commit to managing them and employ the techniques that are right for you to do so. Techniques for managing stress can include:

  • physical activity
  • better eating habits
  • talking with someone
  • some form of spiritual practice
  • getting quality sleep

or any other number of techniques.

One thing that has been helpful for me during the last few years has been Tai Chi.  Currently I’m learning the 24 form Yang style from Jim Hamilton, a real technician who cares about his students understanding the form, practicing it correctly and reaping the mental and physical benefits of its practice.

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Photo MsThorns

However I owe my love of the practice of  Tai Chi to my first teacher Jan Stittleburg from whom I learned the Yang 8 form.  Her Patience, kindness and sense of humor helped ease my nerves on many days.

Jan Stittleburg

Photo: Jan Stittleburg

What do you do to manage stress? Does physical activity bring your relief? Getting enough Zs? Have you considered Tai Chi? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter or Google+.

Until next time may your chi be well and your stress be minimal.

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