Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Healthy Wednesdays - How to keep stress from invading your body.

Donna asked a good question (in her comment to a recent post) about how to keep stress from causing body tension when you are traveling - or at other times.

I think posture and stretching are the key for me to keeping tension from taking hold in my body.  I have been doing Pilates for 1 1/2 years with its emphasis on posture and try to really hold my torso up by lifting the chest and abdomen and making sure my shoulders are relaxed (I can hear my trainer's voice saying "relax your shoulders" which she must say oh at least 20 times each one hour training session - guess where I carry my stress).  It is endlessly amazing to me how I feel the stress drain from my body when I relax my shoulders.

I usually don't make time to do stretching exercises when trips are short, but when they are longer I will and take my yoga strap to use to stretch my hamstrings and hip flexors which are always tight but especially so when sitting a lot..

Of course it also is important to keep from getting stressed over those things I have no control over (travel delays, other people's behavior, etc.).  I keep reminding myself that I have no control over those and ask myself if I can influence it.  If yes, I give it one try and then let it go.

I also have planned in advance how to handle typical stressors.  These days I assume there will be a travel delay and as long as it isn't like the 8 hour one last spring I can stay pretty relaxed.  Travel delays are less stressful when I have a good book to read or use the time to call loved ones to chat.  Of course, then when there isn't a travel delay I do a mental happy dance!

The stressful behavior of people I interact with frequently is fairly predictable and I have sample responses in mind before I spend time with them (hi Mom).  I watch how other people handle similar situations and try out the strategies/approaches that they use that fit my communication style.  I give myself time outs from stressful situations when possible - take a walk by myself for example.  When I anticipate that I will have trouble sleeping due to a hotel room, late dinners, work stress, etc., then I am careful to minimize my alcohol intake and keep the room relatively cool. 

Of course humor also helps to keep things in perspective - I love the illustration above!

Hope that helps.


  1. I love that cartoon, too. Stress can do crazy things to our bodies.

  2. I can sympathize with that zebra...I have felt my stripes slipping many times. Learning to accept what we cannot change is a very hard lesson.

    I like the idea of relaxing the shoulders. I do that very thing by breathing deeply and exhaling slowly relaxing as the air is expelled. I call it relaxing upward because I find I am standing taller when I am done even though I am more at ease.

    Be well. And it goes without!


  3. It is a great cartoon isn't it? b - you are so right about remembering to smile...that is a good addition to the list.

  4. I certainly appreciate all your wonderful ideas for handling stress. I especially like the idea of having some techniques at the ready when dealing with stress-inducing people and situations. "Relax your shoulders" is very good advice indeed. Thanks for a wonderful post!


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