Looking Forward a Stress Free Future

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Last autumn was a good time to renew my strategy for the future because I recognized there is no magic potion that will guarantee a long, healthy life. I made an assessment of where I was at and where I wanted to be.

The year had been less than stellar. I moved from grief to gratitude.  I reconnected with my heart’s desire to live a positively focused life, unencumbered with emotional baggage and to enjoy every day.

Memories

The past and future may seem like different worlds, yet the two are intimately intertwined in our minds. In recent studies on mental time travel, neuroscientists found that we use many of the same regions of the brain to remember the past as we do to envision our future lives. In fact, our need for foresight may explain why we can form memories in the first place. They are indeed “a base to build the future.” And together, our senses of past and future may be crucial to our species’ success. — Memories Are Crucial for Looking Into the Future

bright yellow lotusIn a busy world it’s not surprising to find that both present day stress and  memories of past stressful events have a negative major effect on health. Experiencing stress and reliving it are tied to cardiac disease, hypertension, inflammatory diseases, and compromised immune systems, and possibly to cancer.

Many memories that are stored during the day are not remembered. A new study Reactivating Memories During Sleep: Memory Rehearsal During Sleep Can Make a Big Difference in Remembering Later suggests that memories rehearsed, during either sleep or waking, can have an impact on memory consolidation and on what is remembered later.

Multitasking

Rushing here, there and everywhere while multitasking have become a way of life. People talk cell phones or text message while commuting to work, or scan the news while returning emails. In the rush to accomplish necessary tasks, they stop being truly attentive to what they are doing or feeling.

It has been scientifically demonstrated that the brain cannot effectively or efficiently switch between tasks, so you lose time. It takes four times longer to recognize new things so you’re not saving time; multitasking actually costs time. You also lose time because you often make mistakes. – How Multitasking Hurts Your Brain (and Your Effectiveness at Work)

Mindfulness

bright yellow lotusIt may seem there isn’t enough time to do everything you need to in any day.  Failing to get organized and manage our time effectively can lead to increased stress.  That’s why it’s important to develop effective time management strategies. Scheduling less can result in achieving more. Slowing down to pay attention to just one task or pleasure at a time is an excellent method of stress relief.  Mindfulness meditation improves connections in the brain.

The state Mindfulness is the opposite of multitasking. The practice of mindfulness, which has its roots in Buddhism, teaches people to live each moment as it unfolds. The idea is to focus attention on what is happening in the present and accept it without judgment.– Being mindful can reduce stress. — Being mindful can reduce stress

Taking Charge

bright yellow lotusWithout doubt, maintaining control of my health and well being will provide the best chance for living a full and satisfying life in the here and now and in the future too. What I think, what I eat, how active I am, and the lifestyle choices I make have an enormous impact on my longevity and quality of life. As I’m determined 2013 will be a year of recovery and renewal for me. I am:

Change Making

bright yellow lotusBrief time-outs break tension and release the mind and muscles from struggling to maintain balance. They need not be long but they are  essential when it comes to coping well with stress.

Deep breathing and other many other forms of relaxation can reduce health risks associated with stress and help your restore balance.

There are countless techniques for preventing stress you can inject into your day. Here’s a summary of a few that work well for me:

  1. Personal affirmations are powerful. Why not begin an affirmation of the day exercise? If that doesn’t suit you then try reading uplifting quotations or Top Teachings on Meditation, Wisdom and Compassion.
  2. If you’re a visual person, buy some paints and try your hand at painting. Or pick up a pencil or pen and do some doodling. Try making mandalas: it’s a magical process. Enroll in an art therapy class to manage and relieve stress. Surround yourself with peaceful images.  Borrow art books from library and take brief art appreciation breaks.
  3. If you’re a music lover experiment with both sounds and silence. Listen to spiritual music and/or try brief humming, spiritual chanting or singing breaks. Schedule some time for enjoying the sounds of nature without and electronic intrusion.
  4.  If you tend to zone out or become hyperactive try aromatherapy. Fill your home or workspace with fragrant plants and cut flowers. Do some exploration and experimentation as I did and discover if Bach flower remedies are for you.
  5. Don’t overlook the healing power of tactile sensations. Walk your dog or stroke your cat.  Book an appointment, try self massage or soak in a bubblebath. Take mini meditation breaks. If you have control over your surroundings at work then create a quiet and comfy space to unwind in.

Stress Relief Guide: Quick Tips for When You’re Short on Time is a short helpful guide containing the key components of an effective stress management program that works.

Key Points

  1. Effective stress relief doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
  2. Mini–relaxations can help bring down your stress levels when you only have a few minutes to spare.
  3. It’s important to have a personalized plan for dealing with the stressors in your life.

bright yellow lotusCheck out the free Bring Your Life Into Balance program toolkit for managing overwhelming stress and emotions.

As you look into a year ahead into your future what do you foresee?

Do you envision you will be leading much the same life you are leading now. Or are you making plans for a change?

There’s no better time than now to create a stress reduction plan that will put you on the path to living happier and healthier life.

24 thoughts on “Looking Forward a Stress Free Future

  1. Pingback: Butt Out and Live Longer | this time - this space

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  4. Training the brain to be happier, what an excellent idea! We have so much power in our lives if we choose to take back the controls.. a wonderful page.. c

  5. I’m looking forward to a different year ahead. We’ve moved into a much smaller space (less cleaning, yeah!) and we’re planting a small orchard. Like you, I want to more actively employ some of the healing approaches I know so well. I was fascinated by the information you shared from brain research. It all points in the same direction!

    • Hi Sandra,
      So your move is over and you are settling into a new home. I wish you all the best with making that transition to living in a smaller space. Less cleaning is indeed a boon and multi-use spaces and furnishing are definitely the way to go.

      Buddhists have long known and practiced brain retraining, and as we both know, we can change our brain in ways that help us become more resilient by cultivating mindfulness and compassion. The brain research information also fascinated me. It’s among the subjects I explore and the more that’s known the more we benefit from the knowledge gained.

      Best wishes to you and your hubby on the move and adjusting to living a simpler life.

  6. Great lesson we all could use. My life lesson mantra that has benefitted me throughout my life is “Be Here Now!” All of life is happening now. Good luck

  7. Re: training your brain to become happier. You might find this book both interesting and helpful. Buddha’s Brain:the practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom. Authors: Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and Richard Mendius, MD.; New Harbinger Publication 2009. The premise is that by mindfulness we change the actual neural structures of our brains to make happiness and compassion easier to reach.

    • Without doubt mindfulness is key to cultivating empathy and compassion for our self and for others too. Thanks so much for the books to read recommendation. I’m placing that one on my list.

  8. What you say is something we should all think about on a regular basis. We clutter up our minds and life with needless levels of anxieties which stop us focussing on the things we need to do and be. A thoughtful and well constructed read. Thankyou

    • It’s so easy to get caught up in cluttering our mindss and lives with stuff that keeps us from focusing on what really matters. I admire your writing and consider your “A thoughtful and well constructed read.” to be high praise for my effort to share what I think is important with my readers. Thank you.

  9. I just love this post, and am impressed with your wonderful positive outlook! We suffer from many of the same physical problems. I tried so many things over a 5.5 year period. It was only when I used high quality brand essential oils that I gained relief from a disabling back injury (Deep Blue essential oil) and from the fatigue of fibromyalgia (Lemon essential oil). If you’d like to check into them, you can go to: link removed by timethief

  10. It’s late so I only skimmed it. Thanks for all the links – I look forward to more thoughtfully going through this. I haven’t done affirmations for years, but I think it’s a good time to start using them again.

    Nancy

      • Ironically I will be profiled in awhile by my employer for health and fitness habits. So my answer included these de-stressors: cycling, snowshoeing, art, blogging. I’m not sure that’s the best answer. Because there are other things I didn’t mention: listening to baroque, Renaissance classical music and reading travelogues as well as seeing friends when I can.

        I hope to make some changes…since I’ve not been sleeping well. Long story. But for now, I’m glad I’ve stockpiled some new blog posts in a schedule for next few months.

        It is more than ever, I feel time is precious. And my blog is a celebration of that. Strange as it may seem, sometimes I just enjoy simply looking at some photos on my own blog! It brings back happy memories and reminds me not to take good stuff around us.

        • I don’t think there is a single answer or even a best answer for ways and and means for achieving stress reduction. I think most of us probably have a variety of ways to reduce stress and to cope with what we cannot reduce.

          I hope your trouble with sleeping well clears up soon.

          Indeed time and life are precious and your blog does reflect that. So I don’t think it’s ironic that you will be profiled re: health and fitness habits. I’m so glad you mentioned music as a destressor. I find both listening to music and making music work wonderfully well for me. I enjoy re-reading your posts and re-viewing the photos in your posts too.

          As we are under renovation again, continuing from where we left off last year, I haven’t had the time to create and stockpile draft posts. This weekend we are tackling the bathroom and installing all new fixtures so we are reduced to outhouse use until that phase is completed.

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