Seven Ways to Connect with Soul – Valuable Keys to a Happier, Healthier Life

A friend told me that I am the master of Angelology in our lives. That made me smile. It is so true. The angels have taught me how to use everything in my life from my deepest pain and longing to my most joyful celebrations, to open my heart to experience oneness with them, and with The Divine. Then from that experience, to breathe their energy into my life to solve problems and serve others.

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Relax – It’s a Healthy Choice!

Are we relaxing enough? Do we have the skills we need to know how to relax?  Do you take time each day to relax and refresh?

Relax - It's a Healthy Choice!

Are we relaxing enough? Do we have the skills we need to know how to relax? Click, copy, download, save and share.


The Medical Significance of Relaxation
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

“Relaxation is more than a state of mind; it physically changes the way your body functions.”

“When your body is relaxed breathing slows, blood pressure and oxygen consumption decrease, and some people report an increased sense of well-being. This is called the relaxation response. Being able to produce the relaxation response using relaxation techniques may counteract the effects of long-term stress, which may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including depression, digestive disorders, headaches, high blood pressure, and insomnia.”

Man Meditating Nature

Meditation is an effective relaxation technique.


What Are Different Types of Relaxation Techniques?
According to Paul Lehrer, Paul M.; David H. (FRW) Barlow, Robert L. Woolfolk, and Wesley E. Sime (2007), in the book, Principles and Practice of Stress Management, there are a wide variety of techniques for relaxation.

Certain relaxation techniques known as “formal and passive relaxation exercises” are generally performed while sitting or lying quietly, with minimal movement and involve “a degree of withdrawal.”
These include:

  1. Autogenic training  – a relaxation technique developed Johannes Heinrich Schultz, published in 1932, using daily practice of sessions that last around 15 minutes, usually in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening.
  2. Biofeedback – the use of electronic monitoring of a bodily function in order to train someone to control that function.  For example, measuring increased heart rate (a stress factor) and physically monitoring that to lower heart rate and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
  3. Deep breathing – breathing with focused, long breaths, as exercise or a method of relaxation.
  4. Meditationto engage in a spiritual or mental exercise or contemplation  for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness or a state of deep relaxation.  For example, concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra.
  5. Mind-Body relaxation – Mind-body meditation goes by many different names, including mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindful meditation. It can involve multiple relaxation techniques including yoga, other meditation types, and including progressive relaxation
  6. Zen Yoga – a form of Eastern yoga, based on the teachings of Aaron Hoopes,  with the basic principle that basic breathing, movement and stretching exercises are achievable by anyone regardless of age, fitness, or health
    Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  7. Progressive Muscle Relaxation  a technique that involves tensing specific muscle groups and then relaxing them to create awareness of tension and relaxation, proceeding through all major muscle groups, relaxing them one at a time, and eventually leading to total muscle relaxation, made popular by Dr. Edmund Jacobson, in the 1920’s.
  8. Pranayama – (in Hindu yoga) the regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises in order to achieve a heightened state of conscious awareness or deep state of relaxation
  9. Visualization or Guided Imagery –  visualizing a peaceful situation or setting or engaging in positive changes or actions, in order to induce relaxation and decrease stress and anxiety,  improve self-confidence, or more effectively cope
  10. Yoga Nidra – a sleep-like lucid state which yogis report to experience during their meditations which is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness.
  11. Self-hypnosis – the state or act of hypnotizing oneself for the purpose of reaching a heightened state of awareness, eliminating negative habits, emotional burdens, anxieties, addictive behaviors, past trauma, negative habits, or to achieve a deep state of relaxation, contentment and peace.


Research on the Effects of Relaxation on Health
In the past 30 years, there has been considerable interest in studying the effects of stress and anxiety and on relaxation and health. Anxiety can be the root of a wide variety of physical, mental and emotional symptoms.

Anxiety Symptoms

Research shows that anxiety can cause a wide variety of symptoms which may be effectively treated and eliminated through relaxation therapy.

There is no evidence that relaxation techniques are harmful or can worsen illness symptoms.  There is evidence that relaxation techniques may be an effective part of an overall treatment plan for some health conditions. These health conditions include:

  1. anxiety
  2. depression
  3. headache
  4. pain
  5. temporomandibular disorder
  6. ringing in the ears
  7. smoking cessation
  8. overactive bladder
  9. nightmares
  10. hot flashes.

Daily disciplined practices of relaxation techniques are key to successfully achieving reduced stress and anxiety and optimum health and wellness of mind, body and spirit.

 

Resources

The American Institute of Stress

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Paul Lehrer, Paul M.; David H. (FRW) Barlow, Robert L. Woolfolk, and Wesley E. Sime, Principles and Practice of Stress Management, Guilford Press,  Aug 16, 2007

R.H. Schneider, C.N. Alexander, F. Staggers, M. Rainforth, J.W. Salerno, A. Hartz, S. Arndt, V.A. Barnes, and S.I. Nidich. “Long-term effects of stress reduction on mortality in persons 55 years of age with systemic hypertension.” Am J Cardiol 2005. May 1;95(9):1060–64.

J. Kabat-Zinn, A.O. Massion, J. Kristeller, L.G. Peterson, K.E. Fletcher, L. Pbert, W.R. Lenderking, and S.F. Santorelli. Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Am J Psychiatry 1992 Jul;149(7):936–43

R.J. Davidson, J. Kabat-Zinn, J. Schumacher, M. Rosenkranz, D. Muller, S.F. Santorelli, F. Urbanowski, A. Harrington, K. Bonus, and J.F. Sheridan. Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosom Med 2003 Jul–Aug; 65(4):564–70.

K.H. Kaplan, D.L. Goldenberg, and M. Galvin-Nadeau. The impact of a meditation-based stress reduction program on fibromyalgia. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 1993 Sep; 15(5):284–89.

P. Gelderloos, K.G. Walton, D.W. Orme-Johnson, and C.N. Alexander. Effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation program in preventing and treating substance misuse: a review. Int J Addict 1991 Mar; 26(3):293-325.

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.
  Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

20 Alternative Approaches to Stress

Causes of StressWhat causes stress and how can we prevent it? Are there effective alternative, holistic, and complementary practices to treating stress besides prescription drugs?


What Does Current Research Say About Treatment for Stress?
Current studies show that Americans are not satisfied with healthcare programs addressing stress.

Stress statisticsA recent study entitled, “Stress in America™: Missing the Health Care Connection,”  was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association, among 2,020 U.S. adults in August of 2012.   The results of the study suggest that people are not receiving what they need from their health care providers to effectively manage stress and help them with necessary lifestyle and behavior changes needed to improve their health.

Stress in America

Stress in America – 42% reported that the leading stress symptom they experienced was anger or irritability.

A little more than half (53%) of Americans said they receive little or no support for stress management from their providers.  Thirty-nine percent (39%) said that they have little or no behavior management support.  Thirty-five percent (35%) of Americans said that their stress increased this past year.

Stress effects on body

The effects of stress on the body

What are Stress Symptoms?
Stress symptoms can be emotional, physical, behavioral and mental or psychological.  A person under stress might have the following symptoms:

  • easily irritated
  • frustrated
  • mood swings
  • hopeless
  • not able to relax
  • low self-esteem
  • paranoia
  • trouble focusing
  • lonely
  • avoiding people and projects
  • headache
  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • muscle pain
  • fatigue
  • sleepiness
  • insomnia
  • sweating
  • chills

    Stress Symptom Nail Biting

  • biting nails
  • grinding teeth
  • frightened
  • panic attack
  • trouble swallowing
  • cold or flu symptoms
  • shaking or shivering
  • pacing
  • drug use
  • negativity (criticism or gossip)


How is Stress Diagnosed and Treated?
There is no specific medical test for stress but your trusted healthcare provider or family physician should do a thorough medical and psychological exam and evaluation.  He or she will ask you about your family history, your work, your daily routine, and personal life to help determine “stress triggers”  and discuss a plan of treatment. It might be helpful for you to keep a stress diary for a few weeks to determine causes of stress.

EEG TestThe doctor might also order blood and urine lab tests, EEG, EMG, MRI, or other tests to rule out other illnesses that might be triggering stress symptoms. Basic tests will include measuring your blood pressure and completing a questionnaire to test for depression. After making diagnostic or psychological tests have been completed, your trusted healthcare practitioner may recommend treatment.

Treatment may include lifestyle changes such as changes in diet, physical activity or exercise, meditation, or prescription medications. If you don’t feel comfortable with the doctor’s evaluation or plan of treatment, it is important that you trust yourself and your own body wisdom when making a decision.  Make sure that you are working with a doctor as a member on your team, and that your healthcare professionals are working closely with you.

Which Types of Alternative Approaches Have Been Effective?

Alternative Stress Treatment

What holistic, alternative approaches are effective in treating stress?

There are many types of alternative approaches that have been shown to be effective in relieving stress, however, most approaches take time and training for the person to be skilled enough to use it successfully, or for the hands-on practitioner to be successful in working cooperatively with the client to achieve success.

Research studies show that alternative approaches can ]reduce or eliminate stress symptoms. Exercise has been well-documented as a stress-reducer, as has prayer, deep breathing, and meditation. Hypnosis and massage are also highly effective alternative treatments to prescription drugs.

Massage

Therapeutic massage is a well-documented  alternative treatment for alleviating stress.

Some of the natural approaches to relieving stress are:

  • Massage
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Qigong
  • Deep Breathing
  • Biofeedback
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Dance therapy
  • Drama therapy
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
  • Flower Essences
  • Essential Oils
  • Homeopathic remedies
  • Light therapy
  • Crystals or gemstones
  • Guided imagery or visualization

    Acupuncture

    Acupuncture can be a successful alternative treatment to reducing stress related symptoms

  • Acupuncture
  • Self-hypnosis
  • Psychic healing
  • Energetic healing/Reiki
  • Counseling or Psychiatric
  • Physical therapy
  • Physical Exercise
  • Sex
  • Chiropractic

For more information about which alternative or complimentary therapies or approaches are best for your needs in treating anxiety or stress, consult with your trusted health-care practitioner, or check out the resources below.

Resources
The American Institute on Stress
The Stress Resource Center – Harvard
Healthfinder.gov – Stress Management
Holistic Stress Management for Nurses
American Psychological Association
Huffington Post -Reduce Stress Now
Mayo Clinic – Stress Management

Research
Keil, R.M.K. (2004) Coping and stress: a conceptual analysis Journal of Advanced Nursing, 45(6), 659–665


Viner, R. (1999) Putting Stress in Life: Hans Selye and the Making of Stress Theory. Social Studies of Science, Vol. 29, No. 3 (June 1999), pp. 391–410

O’Connor, T. M.; O’Halloran, D. J.; Shanahan, F. (2000). “The stress response and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis: From molecule to melancholia”. QJM : monthly journal of the Association of Physicians 93 (6): 323–333.

LE Walker Post-traumatic stress disorder in women: Diagnosis and treatment of battered woman syndrome.
– Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 1991

Hayes, Steven C.; Wilson, Kelly G.; Gifford, Elizabeth V.; Follette, Victoria M.; Strosahl, Kirk. Experiential avoidance and behavioral disorders: A functional dimensional approach to diagnosis and treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 64(6), Dec 1996, 1152-1168. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.64.6.1152, Special Section: Development of Theoretically Coherent Alternatives to the DSM-IV.

_______________________________________


Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.
 Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

 Disclaimer:The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.