As a Reiki practitioner and teacher, hypnotist, and reflexologist, I sometimes feel like I should have my stress levels under control by now. In fact, I’ve made huge strides in this department over the years, but recently came to some realizations about room for improvement, and wanted share my all-time favorite tip.
Here are three of those realizations:
Your body doesn’t differentiate between big stresses and little ones.
You think it would, right? When we’re stressed, our bodies are ramped up in sympathetic nervous system mode (fight-or-flight) and we respond the same whether it’s the overwhelm of an inbox full of emails that need responses asap, a huge deadline, or a hungry tiger.
The body is not hardwired to differentiate among stressors—all it knows is that it needs to react, fast.
Ideally, our body is supposed to shift out of this sympathetic mode to the parasympathetic nervous system (otherwise known as rest- and-digest mode) once the crisis is over. A body that's highly stressed forgets how to do this on its own. Which leads me to my second realization…
One stress management technique that doesn’t work: Bingeing and purging. (And no, I’m not talking about eating!)
What do I mean by bingeing and purging with stress? In other words: it’s when we stress out all day and then try to recover and make up for it at the end of the day or on the weekends by taking a yoga class, going to the gym, or getting a Reiki session or a massage, etc. OK, hold on, I’m not saying throw out your yoga mats and stop getting bodywork! These things work in conjunction with the solution I propose below.
One stress management technique that does work: Interrupt stress. Constantly.
I’ve built my wellness practice around this core principle because I believe so strongly in it. The best way to reduce stress is to find ways to interrupt it throughout the day so it doesn’t accumulate.
A good metaphor: think of stress filling a bucket throughout the day—maybe with a few drops for smaller stresses (e.g. missing the train, getting cut off in traffic) and more drops for bigger stresses (e.g. a fight with a partner or friend, a chronic illness). If you don’t empty the bucket, it overflows. Interrupting stress throughout the day is a good way to empty that bucket.
How do you interrupt stress? Personalize this for you. What stress-relief techniques do you already know that take less than a minute to do?
I love showing people self-hypnosis techniques that take less than a minute. I’m a huge fan of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and teach this to almost every client I see. (And yes, I have done it walking down the street!) Another favorite is the Heart Breathing Technique.
When you do the Heart Breathing Technique your heart and brain synchronize and get in balance. It only takes a minute, and creates positive changes in your heart rhythms, sending powerful signals to the brain that can improve how you’re feeling. It's a great technique to use when you're feeling stressed.
Here's a simplified version you can do on your own:
Drop your awareness down to your heart. Imagine the breath passing in and out of the heart. Think of someone or some place you love and imagine breathing this love into your heart. You'll notice a shift as you do this.
Author of Building a Powerful Practice: Successful Strategies for Your Wellness Business, Deborah Flanagan established the Center for True Health in NYC in 2008 and has since guided thousands of people through major life changes using Reiki, hypnosis, and reflexology. Her unique approach has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show and in O, the Oprah Magazine. To learn more about Deborah’s work, go to centertruehealth.com where you can sign up for her monthly newsletter and get tips to help you find more balance in your life.