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Manage Your Stress

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Photo by Thao Le Hoang on Unsplash

Learn how to reclaim your emotions and your life

Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at different times in our lives. Our lives have without preamble been turned upside down. We could never have predicted the current situation that has become our ‘new normal”. Our stress levels are at an all time high! While some folks seem to have various methods of coping, others encounter varying degrees of difficulty in managing their stress levels.

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Stress is often the result of mental or emotional pressures. You feel overwhelmed with life. The disconnect begins with a real or perceived demand placed on your brain or your physical body. The stress is compounded when multiple competing stressors are placed on us. Presently we are faced with many unpleasant stimuli and this may cause us to feel incapable of holding the reigns.

We try valiantly to hang on but may become unable to and just let go, retreating into ourselves.

A funny image of a man unable to keep a hold of the reigns to his horse.

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Stress can present in one of two ways:

  • Acute stress

or

  • Chronic stress

Acute stress:

Acute stress has its origins in the fight-or-flight response. It is the body’s signal of imminent danger that alerts us to the presence of a threat and prepares us to fight or to take flight. It is part of our built-in protective mechanism.

Chronic stress:

This type is more insidious, the stressor remains for longer periods of time, and will generally affect your health and your everyday lives. This ongoing stress produces symptoms, such as, shortness of breath, headaches and insomnia, etc. These chronic-stress responses are sneaky and subtle than those of the acute-stress response, but their effects are longer lasting and way more problematic.

Stress may also be triggered by sudden emotional changes, i.e., a loss or a change in your living situation, our health and our world, e.g., COVID-19.

A funny and utilitarian sign that states: Stress Relief at the next exit.

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Some ways to manage are:

  • Get enough rest
  • Take deep breaths
  • Use guided imagery
  • Recognize factors that trigger your stress
  • Keep a diary, things seem much less threatening when you see it in writing
  • Try progressive relaxation
  • Laugh
  • Music / dance
  • Get a massage
  • Meditate
  • Get physical e.g., yoga, exercise
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Limit caffeine & alcohol
  • Avoid illicit drugs, they may make stress and anxiety worse
  • Get moving, change your scenery e.g., take a walk
  • Try medication therapy
  • Develop some hobbies

Deep breathing − Breathe in slowly through your nose. Hold your breath for about 3 seconds. Exhale slowly out your mouth. Close your eyes, if you can and concentrate on controlling and slowing down your breathing.

Guided imagery − Close your eyes and picture a safe, peaceful scene. Choose some place you love and where you feel safe. Concentrate on the details of the scene and remember how you feel when you are there.

Progressive relaxation − Sit or lie quietly. Start by making a group of muscles tense or tight and then relax them. Tense your muscles for at least 5 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat. Then, move to another group.

Laughter − Laughing helps lower stress. Try watching a comedy on television. Tell funny stories. Share jokes, books or laugh with a friend.

Music − If you love music like I do, this is a surefire way to allay feelings of stress and anxiety and help you to relax. If you play an instrument, now is a good time to give it a go.

Massage − We all know the joys and benefits of a good massage, get a back rub from someone you feel safe with just bask in the presence of their companionship.

Meditation − Do a familiar activity that calms you and helps you clear your mind. If a walk or a run helps you to feel calm, do so in a safe space.

Take a 10-second break − You may feel very stressed but not able to leave where you are. If so, close your eyes and breathe deeply for 10 seconds, e.g., on an airplane.

Yoga or other forms of martial arts− These slow and purposeful body movements coupled with deep breathing, serves to take your focus off the stressor and can help you feel better.

Limit/stop caffeine, alcohol and illicit street drugs — these substances can all cause/increase stress and anxiety, so avoid them when and if possible.

Finally medication therapy — talk to your healthcare provider about what medication / therapeutic options are available and may be effective for your particular situation. Together you can initiate therapy that still allows you to remain a productive member of society.

3 red puzzle interconnected pieces labelled laughter, yoga and connections.

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With our lives are turned inside out and our current circumstances are extremely stressful, we hopefully have the support of family and friends. We should seek out resources to that offer assistance as well as use some of the techniques set out above in learning to cope and self de-stress for better mental health.

Reference:

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Dancing — A Love with Health Benefits

Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash

I love to dance! I also love music. One cannot separate the two, for you really cannot have one without the other. If only I could be sixteen again, If I had a change to choose a path once more, I would choose my one true love, I would choose to dance.

If there is music I cannot, I will not be still. My body, my feet, my soul is compelled to move on its own accord. The moving parts are not controlled by me but by the master musician. I cannot help myself as I simply love dance and music!

If there is music I will dance!

Whenever I ponder the sadness of my eventual demise it is the absence of music and dancing for which I grieve. I am saddened that I will no longer hear music or get to dance.

I have always loved the sounds of music, not just any music, the conscious kind, the type that speaks to me on a soul level. The kind of music in which I can lose myself in. The kind of music that expresses all that I could ever wish to say.


                                  Photo by Leon Liu on Unsplash

Benefits of dancing

Throughout history dancing has always been present at celebrations, when wars were won and conquests were made. The use of dance as a form of therapy should be practiced more often in society. According to Harvard Medical School, Institute of Neurobiology, dance is currently being explored for its role in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

 Dancing:

  • Improves the condition of your heart and lungs.
  • Increases your general fitness level.
  • Helps build strong bones thereby reducing injuries.
  • Boosts your mood.
  • Improves your sense of well-being.
  • Increases muscular strength and endurance.
  • Helps with weight management.
  • Improves coordination, agility and flexibility.
  • A gentle exercise.

Psychology today states that the act and physical exertion of dancing and for a sustained amount releases the mood-altering neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. It also posits that new neurons and neurological connections are established as a result of proteins produced with prolonged physical activity

The movement of dancing produces beauty, it gives rise to agility and strength. Dance is healing, soothing, spiritual and when used in conjunction with music provides a plethora of healing benefits.

So to those of us out there, us that love music and dance, we who cannot remain seated when we hear music … rise up and dance, for dancing may be a key to your emotional and physical health.

What could be better!

So next time I vow to choose you dance as my first love.

Then … I will dance.

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My Testimony, Before They call …!

Before I took the leap and began blogging, it had been a constant thought in my head, a deep desire to write. I felt I have a lot to say. People needed to know that God is real!

Almost 23 years ago I came face to face with God. Since then I have a different awareness of life.

Some Background on Me

I had been raised with the love of God in my heart, always.

As a child, I was a shy thinker, I loved reading books. Growing up in a “third world country” it often mean reading in less than ideal circumstances. I devoured books.

We learned the “Queen’s English” in school but casually speak a broken form of English, consisting of words from Africa, India, China, Amerindians, Portuguese etc.

The language represents the many peoples’ that inhabit that land.

As far back as I can remember I instinctively knew there was something wrong in my body, I don’t know what it was or how I knew this, but I did.

I never had any limitations and had a normal childhood, running and climbing trees like every other child.

But my prayers would always be God protect my heart, my brain and my eyes. The prayers of a child.

So one night I awoke after giving birth to my first child some 7 weeks earlier to my heart attempting to thump out of my chest!

The ER doctor casually told me I had a hole and needed heart surgery and strolled out of my room.

This information heralded the beginning of me trusting God implicitly. Thus began my blessings.

GOD Is Always Ahead of Us

My mother worked at a very prominent hospital in New York. She worked with the cardio-thoracic surgeons and would often see the prep work that came with preparing for cardiac surgery.

So after I received the ER diagnosis I was unable to book an appointment with a cardiologist for months as they have a long wait list.

My mother placed a call to the doctors she worked with and I had an appointment the next day and surgery a week later! ( This is how God orders our footsteps. Isaiah 65:24 Even before they call I will answer and while they are yet speaking, I will hear). I believe the reason my mother even worked there in the first place was because God had already prepared a place for me.

My mom told me that they had to massage your heart and stop it so they could perform surgery. (This was my pre-nursing days, I underwrote mortgages back then).

So now!!! Here I was about to have heart surgery. I was filled with imaginings of them stopping my heart and the heart deciding not to re-start. And my baby was a few weeks old. Imagine my pain.

With not much time to prepare for the surgery, I retreated to my quiet space and consulted with The Almighty.

I asked my mother not to tell many extended family members because I needed time with God with no distractions and negative sayings.

I began to pray and seek God for a safe passage through the coming trials.

The day of the surgery dawned clear, I kissed my child not knowing if I would ever see him again.

I checked into the hospital and my surgery would be early the next morning, I wanted my doctor fresh!

The evening before My friend Em and I prayed one final time at 11:30 pm and I slept the sleep of the innocent, confident in God’s promises.

I was awakened the following morning and prepped for surgery, in the elevator I saw my family for the last time before being greeted with the stark cold whiteness of the operating theater and then … lights out!!!

Going Home

Awoke after ten plus hours of surgery and was certainly grateful to be alive. I do not recall being in too much pain afterward, but I now sport a long scar from under my left breast to my posterior scapula (back of my shoulder blades).

Three days later I am discharged and leave the hospital to a world that seemed brand new. I felt like a child in unfamiliar territory. As I was riding home I recall looking around at the world in wonder, everything was new to me as if I had never been here or seen it before.

My surgery took place in March. I had several bouts with tachycardia, wore a holter monitor, and finally had an ablation in an effort to calm the irritable area of my heart that would trigger these fast heart beats.

Through it all I learned to be steadfast like Job, to trust God. No matter where this journey took me I claimed his healing words for my life and I STOOD on his promises.

The devil will casts doubts in your way all the time, tell you, “you will die today”, “God does not hear you, you are a sinner”, “you are not going to be healed!”

Satan will use your thoughts as well as the words of others’ to deny you what God has for you … You MUST not believe it!

Several supernatural things would accompanied my healing. Many small moments when I was aware of being in the presence of angels, especially when I was alone at home during my time of convalescence.

Many times I was in the presence of “static electrical force-field” that I really cannot find adequate words to explain. It is a electrical, static force in which you are enveloped in a loving cocoon and are completely loved and you feel so emotional and all you can do is praise God.

One Day The Holy Spirit Came

One day about 3 months after my surgery my mother and I were the only ones at home. We were sitting at right angles to each other with an open window at my right arm. We were watching TBN, Christian TV.

Suddenly I was prompted to look out the open window, turned just in time to see a ball of mist coming at a great speed towards me. The “mist” was moving so fast it left a tail streak behind it.

The “mist” came into the window and touched me on my right shoulder, I felt like an electrical current went through my body, I was energized with that “electricity”, a life force…I was propelled to my feet, (keep in mind I had had a baby, then 10 hrs of surgery, recovery was not a quick road, I was as weak and helpless as my baby. I was at this time sleeping with my mother. I could not take care of myself or my baby)

I was so weak I could barely hold my head up, my mother would wash my hair with me laying on the bed with my head over the side. I could hardly sit up let alone stand. So when I got up to praise God, that was miracle #1.

Death was on me like perfume, I looked like a skeleton and I was in my twenties

I write this in an effort to let you understand how ill and weak I was.

I was on my feet calling Jesus and praising God and weeping with my hands up to the sky. This energy, this God-force infusing my being and I felt happy and healed and well.

I do not know how long I stood on my feet praising God and just basking in His glory. I was somehow outside of myself but yet aware of what was happening. My mother was saying “receive your healing, receive your healing” and I kept on praising God.

My spirit was praising God independent of my will, I did not consciously decide to do this, but when the Holy Spirit came to me I just naturally praised God.

Here in my humble bedroom of the brownstone we rented, The God, Ancient of days, knows me and cares about my affairs, enough to visit me and let me have the pleasure of seeing and feeling His Spirit.

My mother, the only witness to this event.

I Am Healed!

I returned to work shortly after that day and my life has been so very blessed since. I know, that I know, that I know that God knows and loves me.

And in this knowledge… I REST!

I have had other encounters since then I will tell, but when I am prompted to tell by His Spirit in the hopes that someone will read my words and believe that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

Please comment and please share your divine encounters, someone out there may need to hear this.