To some, "finding your center" may sound like a cheesy connotation derived from the self help books of an overpaid guru. This was precisely what I thought upon first hearing of the art of relaxation. After a bit of research, though, and some actual testing of the theory, I found it to be tremendously helpful on my journey to ease stress and further rid my body of the pain it propels. Below are five ways in which I find my center, and ultimately achieve one of my greatest goals: de-stressing life.
I had never thought of aromatherapy as an effective treatment for stress. After all, what's a few candles going to do, anyway? What I learned about this technique, though, is that the serenity it encompasses allows for me to rid my mind of troubles, if even for a few minutes. Aromatherapy overcomes stress by using one of the most innate senses: smell. How does it rid my mind of stress? The smells, ranging from cinnamon to kiwi flavored, evoke feelings of pleasure and contentment. And though it may not be for everyone, I'm willing to vouch that aromatherapy most definitely caters to the delicate senses we often take for granted.
I have not strived to be healthy my entire life; in fact, I found myself consuming empty calories mixed with no aerobic activity for long periods of time. I have done the yo-yo dieting and starvation, the odd diets with empty feelings. But in the end, exercise mixed with a healthy diet helped me get closer to my goal: being an individual of priceless well being.
In accordance with this ethic, I make an effort to exercise at least four days a week for 45 minutes or more, and this sort of goal continues to satisfy not only my constant stress triggers, but also my overall mentality of my life day-to-day. Through exercise, my *endorphin levels skyrocket, stress deteriorates, and happiness glows.
*Endorphins are a natural body substance secreted by the pituitary gland that is similar in action to morphin; produced by happy thoughts and feelings.
Deep breathing doesn't have to relate to awkward "ohms" in crowed, sweaty yoga arenas. In fact, an "ohm" isn't even required. Our breath is one thing we are able to effectively control, minus the stress-inducing factors all around us, and perhaps this is what makes deep breathing such a relaxing technique: simply the feeling of taking initiative over something in your life produces accomplishment, a dynamic that outweighs stress any day. When practicing deep breathing, I don't even "ohm". Instead I focus on taking the air from within, usually what I attribute to stress and anxiety, and releasing it through strong exhales. Deep breathing can be done anywhere: church, bathroom, car, supermarket. A group environment is not required.
I purchased a fountain a while back for about seven dollars. It's a medium size pottery delight that you can plug in and prop on a table. After relocating from a small town to a larger city, I found that stress and anxiety were coming at me from every angle, and I needed to find ways to tame my state of heightened depression. After setting up the fountain in my room and adding water, I found that the sound soothed my senses, and soon I had this fountain running constantly, bringing about an air of peace to my room. Simply the sound of trickling water helped me overcome the stress and anxiety I had been allowing to grasp my life. There are many sounds that cater to individual needs, including waterfalls, birds, crickets, and fires burning in the fireplace. The key is to find your sound therapy and use it whenever possible.
Think of a beautiful place you've always wanted to visit, real or imagined. Now try to incorporate the five senses into the equation: sight, smell, touch, sound and taste. Take a moment to bask in the atmosphere you've just created. This is called visualization, where you think of a place that soothes your senses and let the world around you stand still for a moment. I find it to be especially helpful when I'm in a lot of physical pain, because stress only makes it worse. My place could be a called a stereotypical dream: Bahamas-like, with dolphins and crystal clear waters, a little beach side-hut. The key is to find your vacation spot somewhere in the mind, and ultimately overcome physical and emotional stress effectively.
Aromatherapy, exercise, deep breathing, sound therapy and visualization are only some of the methods out there for combating stress. Inspiration for remedies to life's everyday dilemmas lies everywhere. Finding and practicing these invaluable methods can help you overcome the stress weighing heavily on an otherwise happy life.
Christina Veal is currently a student residing in California, USA. She plans to major in journalism and/or nutrition.
Posted: March 17, 2003