“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. They come to us now knowing this truth. We are at our best when they give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.” ~Albert Schweitzer
We live a world fraught with stress. Our fast-paced, technological culture bombards us with sights and sounds that keep us geared up and speeding through life, spending too much time with our bodies in stress mode. When we experience stress, whether a threat is real or perceived, our body responds by going into defense mode to protect us. In this state our bodies make, among other things, adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are healthy in small amounts but too much leads to a break down in our health and mood. Imagine revving the gas pedal of a car over and over and over again all day long. Our body has a similar accelerating response, and can wear us down if we don’t neutralize it. We can learn to neutralize stress by using our bodies metaphorical “brake pedal”. Our brake pedal is used when we slow down, and spend time in calm, caring, and connected modes. When we slow down and connect with others, our bodies create what is called oxytocin, which helps us heal, build relationships, and relax. With this in mind, here are a few ways to stay out of stress mode, put on the break, and improve inner wellness.
Experience silence, stillness, and solitude
For many people silence and stillness is a rare commodity. They live in a noisy city or have a high intensity schedule that keeps them on the go. If you relate to this type of lifestyle it’s important to create a healthy rhythm for your life. To counter the ongoing noxious stimulation, find ways to nurture your five senses with healing sights, sounds, smells, tastes and physical sensations. Spend time in nature and other calming environments. Use incessant and other therapeutic scents. Get a massage. Set aside at least fifteen minutes each day where you are free to relax quietly without any distractions.
The way we express ourselves through facial expressions affects our sense of self and overall emotional state. When we frown or have negative expressions it creates an inner stress. The biology of smiling is for our own well-being. The saying “fake it till you make” is an example of how altering our demeanor and expressions alters our state of mind. Practice smiling a few more times each day. Take a deep breath, relax your facial muscles, and put a smile on your face.
A good oxytocin builder is physical touch. Some research says we need seven to eight hugs per day for the right amount of oxytocin. Human contact puts us in a positive state and is a natural source of feel good chemicals. Unfortunately many of us are so busy and on the go we forget about the comfort of human contact. Find safe people to hug and connect with. Whether it is a spouse, child, family members, close friends, or other people you trust, start incorporating physical touch into your life. Nothing creepy of course, just pats on the back, hugs, or a shake of the hand.
Live in a sea of forgiveness
We have all struggled at one time or another with letting-go of our proverbial baggage. That is why forgiveness is so valuable. It promotes healing by ridding us of the emotional baggage that can weigh us down. Forgiveness helps us approach situations with empathy, insight, and understanding. We can focus less on the negative and prepare ourselves to respond instead of react as we go through our day, which helps maintain inner wellness.
Activate your right brain
A great way to work through stress is to find a creative outlet. Using music, painting, writing, and other artistic outlets can help us to break free from a negative narrow state of mind. This can also help us problem solve and expand our perspective. Find ways to express and process your emotions. Hopefully these ideas helped you learn about how our body responds to stress, and how our body also produces chemicals that can promote wellness. Some of these skills may seem very simple, but they can help you take care of yourself both emotionally and physically. Figure out what tips will work best for you and make the choice today to create inner wellness.