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Connect With Your Mind And Body
Release Your Stress
by Michele Germain, LCSW
Do you perpetuate your own stress by ignoring your mind and body? What is you present state of mind? Is it chaotic, busy, scattered or focused and calm? What is your direct experience with your body? Do you feel tight, blocked, fatigued, and numb or do you feel fluid, open, flexible and aware of your feelings?.
Your body is always sending you signals and messages, and your mind is always alerting you to its overloaded chaotic state. Your body and mind tells you what level of stress you are under in any given moment.
Are you listening?
Most people are not listening; they never escape from the analytic headlock that keeps their mind flooded with thoughts and their body tied up in knots. The mind contains a steady flow of thoughts, judgments, desires, images, expectations, which is part of the function of the mind. The Body contains the sensations and feelings that are a result of the thoughts. But, the problem is most people spend entirely too much time thinking, thinking and thinking and become hostage to their negative thoughts. This in turn creates physical tension, numbness or chronic contractions in the body.
Spending too much time in your mind is an acquired habit that gives an illusion of being in control, productive and alert. Since you want to be in control the mind takes over, cleverly rationalizes, minimizes and denies the signals your body is sending you about the physical reaction that occurs as a result of your stress.
This limits your awareness and clarity about yourself and your mind/body stress.
While stress in some amounts is normal, long term stress that is not managed is harmful to your mental, physical, emotional well being. The sources of stress are individualized and potentially limitless depending on the person.
Common sources of stress are:
• Social situations/time pressures
• Loss of job/Retirement
• Financial worries
• Unresolved conflicts in relationships
• Relationship loss, breakup or divorce
• Getting too little sleep
• Legal Issues
• Lack of Purpose
• Disconnected from spiritual self
• Blended Families
It is now a popular belief that a large factor in disease is long term stress. But, the real concern is that most individuals are not aware of their stress until their body is screaming at them with some chronic or acute physical problem.
Since disease comes from inside, you must know what is going on in your mind and your body in order to achieve optimum health and manage the daily stress that exist in your life.
Here are some questions to consider
- Do you know what your present stress level is, on a scale from 1 to 10?
- Do you know what circumstances, people or events create stress?
- Are you aware of your negative self talk that contributes to your stress?
- Are you aware of how your body tension and chronic contraction prevents you from identifying your feelings?
The most important and effective technique to manage your stress, is to live life from the inside out rather than from the outside in. Living life from the inside requires that you do the following:
1. Know Your Own Mind - Notice Your Self Talk
You thoughts are the life of your mind. Observing your thoughts will give you a direct experience with your state of mind. Listen to what you are telling yourself after certain difficulties, challenges, relationship conflicts, or new circumstances in your life. Or pay attention when you are getting up in the morning, taking the kids to school, going to work, standing in line at the market or gas station etc. etc.
Ask yourself are you being self-critical? Are you able to engage in self-forgiveness? Do you obsess about what others think of you? Or do let go of expecting praise, approval and acceptance? Do you obsess over the past, carrying around old events, or do you accept what you cannot change alter or avoid. Do you spend time in the future, worrying about what might happen, or do you stay in the moment?
As you notice your self talk you will begin to see a theme and learn about the quality of your thoughts. Change occurs by pausing, noticing, letting go of the negative thought and shifting to a positive one.
2. Connect With Your Body Sensations And Tension - Understand Your Feelings
Feelings are the life of the body. Feelings give you information about what kind of a reaction you are having to any life circumstances event, or relationship interaction. Your body responds to the minor or major choices that you make every day. It is a direct feedback system that helps you to understand yourself. It tells you when you are out of balance and stressed or in harmony with yourself.
You can identify your feelings by first becoming aware of your physical sensation or tensions you experience in your body. Stop throughout the day and feel your feet on the ground, drop your shoulders, check in with your breathing and place your hand on your heart and ask yourself how you are doing? Notice what parts of your body are tight or tense and if your heart is open.
If you anchor your awareness in your body, it will tell you if you are calm, agitated, fearful, frustrated, angry, sad, happy or peaceful. Each and every moment it will tell you how you are reacting to an event or a person. If you pay attention you will learn to identify your bodies' reaction and your feelings and understand what circumstances are counterproductive and creating a high stress level.
Mind/Body Stress Reduction Techniques
Body Relaxation Technique Scan your body in the morning before getting out of bed, and in the evening. Start with your toes and work your way up noticing each part of your body if the muscles are relaxed, soft or tight and contracted. Do not judge, gently tell your body to relax. Do this with each part of your body one step at a time.
Mental Relaxation Technique Find a time where you can be still and uninterrupted or distracted.. Allow yourself at least 5 minutes. Close your eyes and gently focus on the area of your forehead between your eyebrows. Try not to think about anything as you look into the darkness. If thoughts come in allow them to pass through your mind, without grabbing onto them. The goal is have your mind become still and quiet.
Visualization Technique Choose a time when you do not have to be attending to anything. It could be standing in line at the super market, or when you are in bed. Visualize a pleasant scene. Anature scene or a special vacation, whatever brings pleasure and relaxation.
Breathing Technique Starting in the morning and when you can throughout your day, observe how you are breathing. Is it short and shallow, or deep and slow? Give yourself an instruction to breathe more slowly and deeply.
Manage your stress or it will manage you. Your mind/body connection will continually give you the information you need so you can understand what is counterproductive in your life, and how you are reacting to certain relationship and life situations.
When you connect with your mind/body you will recapture your power and life stress will not drain your energy. Trust the process, your body knows how to get back to balance, especially if you give it a chance with some of these techniques.
Michele Germain is the author of The Jill Principle A Women’s Guide To Healing Her Spirit After Divorce Or Breakup, published by Llewellyn Worldwide. Phone counseling is available. She is licensed as a Clinical Social Worker and Marriage Family Therapist in California. She is a Certified Bioenergetic Analyst, specializing in the mind/body connection, an approach that resolves the emotional pain remaining in the body. She is a relationship expert, and helps individuals find the spiritual gift in their crisis or breakup. She has appeared on radio, cable television and in print media, and has lectured aboard major cruise ship lines such as the Royal Caribbean. For more information visit www.michelegermain.com or www.TheJillPrinciple.com or www.beyondbreakup.com