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In Times of Stress

By Dr. Philip Lee Miller

“I’m so stressed I can’t even think straight.”  Sound familiar? Many people are constantly looking for ways to reduce or even remove stress from their lives. What they don’t realize is that stress isn’t always a bad thing.

It turns out that stress is actually motivating. It gives us our edge. It is what keeps us moving. It is distress that causes dis-ease.   So the notion we call stress is really distress, a pathologic condition that leads to ill-at-ease, disease and a general assault on our immune system.   This has given rise to a most compelling but quite daunting term – psycho-neuro-immunology. It is the science of how our emotions and perceptions (brain) control our immune system and thereby affect our susceptibility to disease and pathology like cancer and chronic illnesses.

We live in a world today that probably pushes the limit. Where stress is leading to distress.   Hope seems to be fading. There is too much to do, not enough time to do it and too many demands.   Drivers are trying to run you off the road in giant monster trucks while hurtling down the road at 95 mph. Moms are driving to work breast feeding the baby, talking on a cell phone and fixing the last touches of mascara - all at the same time.   That is sensory overload.   It is an overwhelming degree of sensory and physical overload that we are subject to every day. One wonders whether this is in part a reaction to the confines of cubicles at work and the need to just “break out” on the road late in the day.  

So what can be done? First, and most simply Breathe!  Yes, this sounds a little too simple, but try it. Do it right now. Just breathe in very deeply, slowly, and then exhale, hold it … then breathe in again. Do that 2 or 3 times and there is a guarantee that your blood pressure will fall 10-20 mm.   It can be demonstrated every time.   10-20 points of blood pressure fall by a simple breathing technique.   The ancient and modern Yogis knew that. Breathing is seen as therapeutic and transformative.

What else? Here’s another really simple trick. Just get up 20-30 minutes earlier and prepare for the day rather than a last minute run to the door and out to the car.   Don’t have time for a good breakfast. Get up earlier. Breakfast sets up your day. That is why it is called Break--fast. Breaking the fast.   Eat a hearty and densely nutritious breakfast with plenty of nutritional supplements and a large “protein drink” and you will again be guaranteed a noticeable burst of energy within a week.

A good night and rejuvenating sleep is critical to daytime vigilance and the ability to cope.   Are you getting a good night’s sleep?   You might even need to think about a sleep study as these are becoming more commonly performed and are very revealing of hidden problems affecting your daytime alertness.

Here is a path to “instant” meditation.   And while instant anything is not always the path to lasting effects try hemi-sync or Holosync CD discs. These are CDs that are technically fashioned to create frequency beating. That is, they beat two almost similar frequency waves together to produce very low frequencies in the 8-14 cycles per cycle range.   This allows for alpha rhythms which are calming and soothing. It allows for theta rhymes which simulate and induce deep meditation and even delta waves of sleep. The newer discs from The Monroe Institute called hemi-sync tapes and CDs or the holosync from The New You Enterprises.   A great one is called Mind Aerobics which is a simple 20 minute routine that is almost guaranteed to make you feel more relaxed and less edgy and happier.

If stressed to the point of distress, breathe and then “chunk it out.”   Break down your immense demands into smaller “doable” chunks.   Just like out of the movie What About Bob?   Baby Steps: See, Slow down, smell the flowers, talk to your kids, talk to your spouse – in person.  Don’t answer the cell phone as if a subject in one of Pavlov’s labs.  Take a mental vacation.

We can’t really stop all of this. We can’t really “stop the world – I want get off.”  But we can aspire to move in the eye of the hurricane.   The center of the cyclone.   That is where calm exists while all swirls around you at breakneck speeds.   It is your time and perceptions that you can change.    It is Time Shifting.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.   That is what we were guaranteed by some very wise men two centuries ago at the birth of our great nation.   Aspire to some small nature of happiness.   We can all do that. Hope is still alive.   Now…just do it.

Read other articles and learn more about Dr. Philip Lee Miller.

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