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Relaxation skills

The stress response begins in the brain.  It happens when you decide that something in your life is
dangerous, difficult or painful and that you do not have the resources to cope with it.  Stress is
very individual and what causes one person great stress may be what the next person pays to do
recreationally.  Stress, whether it comes from a major event or an accumulation of minor events
can wear you out and cause you to become unwell. 


relaxation techniques for stress 1


The stress response is also known as the emergency response or the fight or flight response.  Hans
Seyles, a notable stress researcher at Harvard University traced the events in the body.  He
found that any problem, real or imagined causes an alarm signal to go off in the brain.  This sets in
motion a series of reactions in the body – the stress response.    In other words a cocktail of
hormones is released into your blood stream, which instantly puts you on alert and enables you to
take appropriate action e.g. flight or fight!

So the stress response is triggered in your body - what does this really mean?  Well the most
important thing you need at this point is energy.  Immediately your fat stores are converted to
glucose (sugar) and this goes directly to your blood stream as energy.  Your heart beat and blood
pressure increase – this helps deliver this extra energy to the muscles to enable flight or fight. 
Your pupils also dilate to help you see better and overall your hearing becomes sharper. 

It is very important to know that all your non urgent body projects (those not needed for
immediate survival) are turned off during the stress response. These projects include digestion,
tissue repair, growth, immunity and reproduction. You inherited this stress response from your
ancestors who needed this for survival, in other words when they were out hunting they needed it
to survive, they wanted lunch, not to be lunch. 

In these modern times we have adapted (or sophisticated) this response and now use it
inappropriately.  Our ancestors’ wild animals in the woods have been replaced by us with traffic
queues, shopping queues and other non life threatening events.  The big problem is that traffic
queues etc are not life threatening.  If you trigger the stress response repeatedly for non life
threatening situations you are releasing a cocktail of hormones in to your system that is not being
used up in a fight or flight response and so the hormones remain in your system.  If you keep doing
this your body will experience stress symptoms and later stress related illness especially if you do
not address or manage your stress symptoms.

I can strongly recommend simple relaxation techniques and meditation to help you overcome or
manage all types of stress.  a good programme for transforming stress into vitality can offer you
practical advice and techniques to help you overcome the effects of stress and the pressures of
modern living and restore the balance between mind, body and emotions. 


Mary Thompson
Tralee, Co. Kerry
Tel: 086-3564395

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