Can you increase happiness in order to banish stress?
Can you be happy and stressed at the same time? Yes and no. We can have a general feeling of happiness, but if you are clearly under stress, you cannot fool your body for long. While under stress your heart rate increases and your blood pressure will likely rise as well. During this time, the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin flow through you to ensure that you feel even more wired and you are ready to react or respond. When you’re afraid or are under stress you are likely to have worried thoughts, physical sensations like a faster heart rate, sweating and increased breathing.
The amygdala is the part of the brain that reacts most strongly when you’re confronted with fear and stress. Under stress, the amygdala orders the release of neurotransmitters, which can cause increased doubt, fear and anxiety. In the fight or flight response, a quick message is sent to the amygdala, releasing more adrenalin than you probably need for your situation, and may show up in stress symptoms such as:
- increased blood pressure,
- increased breathing and heart rate,
- reduced digestion, and
- dilated pupils.
Problems arise when your daily stressors trigger your stress response. This means that you are constantly on alert, and too much stress for too long can result in an imbalance.
There are few situations in modern life (unless you have just come face to face with a hungry bear in the mountains) where such a response is optimal. Taking a final exam requires sitting in a chair, not running away from an enemy. The focus on survival that stress and hormone release generally causes results in poor decision making and poor concentration – the very things that help you to be successful at work, sports, and personal relationships.
In the short term, it is important to manage the fight or flight response. A step to take in coping with stress is identifying and then taking action to reduce your stressors. If you are constantly overscheduled and being run down you must do one of two things: either change your mental response to your busyness by reminding yourself that you are choosing to and looking forward to participating in these commitments or release some of the commitments and choose to honouryour life.
I suggest you implement some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and clinical hypnotherapy to reduce the stress in your body. Below are some following techniques to practice for stress relief and getting a grip back on your life commitments.
- Sit or lie comfortably, loosen any restrictive clothing.
- Put one hand on your chest and one on your stomach.
- ·Slowly inhale through your nose or through pursed lips. Try inhaling to a count of three or four.
As you inhale, feel your stomach expand with your hand. If your chest expands, focus on breathing with your diaphragm. Slowly exhale through your nose or through pursed lips to regulate the release of air to the same count as your inhalation and feel your belly drop back towards your spine.
I often imagine I’m filling up a balloon and then pushing the air out again. During stress and anger, we tend to inhale and hold our breath. The most significant therapeutic aspect of deep breathing is exhalation. In times of stress and anger switch from even inhale/exhale to extending yourexhale by two times the length of the inhalation. If you are inhaling to a count of four, make your exhalation extend to a count of eight. The exhalation alerts the body that it can relax and resume essential body functions and not remain in a state of fight or flight.
Deep breathing doubles our oxygen supply and purifies the blood. Oxygen burns up the waste products (toxins) in the body and recharges the body’s batteries.
Meditation can be as simple as paying attention to your breathing for a few minutes. Relax in whatever position works best for you, close your eyes, and start to pay attention to your breathing. Breathing through your nose gets your diaphragm involved and gets oxygen all the way to the bottom of your lungs. As your mind wanders, simply refocus your attention on the air going in and out of your nose, saying “breath in, breath out,” over and over in your mind. You can also practice breathing in through the nose and out through your mouth. Use even inhales and even exhales. Another version is to have your exhalation last twice as long as your inhalation. Do this for several minutes, or longer as you get used to it.
Walking meditations get the body involved. It can be outside or simply pacing back and forth in a room. Pay attention to the movement of your legs, breathing, and body as you walk, as well as to the feeling of your feet contacting the ground. When your mind wanders, just keep bringing it back to the process of walking and breathing. You can also notice everything of beauty as you walk. Make a point to notice the colors, smells, plants, and animals. Appreciate everything as sacred.
Clinical hypnosis, positive suggestion, visualization, and affirmation are all extremely powerful agents of change for your complete psychological and emotional well-being, including the management of anxiety and stress, building confidence and self-esteem.
Hypnotherapy has its origins in a nineteenth-century form of trance healing called “mesmerism.” Mesmerism has been used since that time because it works! It allows suggestions to be made to the subconscious mind, which is the key to personal growth and change. The conscious mind is responsible for short-term memory, analytical thinking, and questioning. The subconscious mind is responsible for anatomic processes such as blood circulation, breathing, heart function, and tissue repair.
During hypnosis, a person is completely aware of what is being said to them, although their mind will be open to positive suggestion. Hypnosis can tap into the natural inner resource of the subconscious mind to make beneficial changes. Hypnosis is simply a state of heightened relaxation and is a dreamy, pleasant experience. Using hypnosis is very powerful.
In the long term, stress management helps to reduce fatigue and burnout, and promote wellness, health, and happiness.