Stress. Stress affects everyone. There are two types of stress: good stress and bad stress. Good stress is not particularly harmful and usually occurs during times of nervousness such as weddings, or even during first dates. Good stress can be a motivator to get things done and move ahead with projects. Bad stress is physiologically harmful and has several damaging short-term and long-term effects. Bad stress is related to several anxiety disorders. It usually occurs during trying times like the loss of a job or other traumatic experiences. This type of stress can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, skin problems, and fluctuation in moods.
There are several strategies to deal with stress. Some are medical such as therapy and medication, while others are considered alternative. Three popular methods are meditation, yoga, and biofeedback. These methods have gained notoriety over the years as valuable and effective stress reduction techniques. Perhaps in the future, we can find a way to combine both medical and alternative treatment techniques for a well-rounded health care program.
1st Alternative Method for Stress Reduction: Meditation
Meditation is a relaxation technique that involves mostly the mind, which in turn affects the physical body as well. This technique can be used as a stress reducer. In stilling your mind and body, you can forget for a short period the many trials of the day. Studies have shown that meditation can have beneficial effects on the health of the body as well as positive results in stress reduction levels.
There are several ways to meditate. You can meditate quietly alone or within a group. Meditation can occur during times of activity or at times you deem relaxing such as reading or even washing the dishes. When or where to meditate depends entirely on your own preferences.
Meditation has been around for thousands of years. Originally done to commune with oneself spiritually and for other religious reasons, meditation has become an important tool in todays stressed out society. One can meditate at home or at one of many “meditation clinics” found all over the United States.
2nd Alternative Method for Stress Reduction: Yoga
Yoga is a combination of stretching and breathing exercises and mind relaxation techniques that can significantly reduce stress levels. The combination of exercise and mind relaxation increases your flow of oxygen, flexibility, and concentration. The premise of yoga is obtaining full awareness of yourself, your body, and your environment. This leads to a certain “stillness” of mind and body. In doing regular yoga exercises, you can reduce stressful thoughts and gain a different perspective on life. While still considered alternative, yoga is increasingly becoming a popular form of exercise, and many doctors will agree that exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle.
You can learn Yoga through several avenues. You can attend a class, watch yoga DVDs, or read Yoga books. Either way yoga can be an influential tool on your road to better health of mind and body.
3rd Alternative Method for Stress Reduction: Biofeedback
Popular in the 1970s and 80s, biofeedback disappeared only to resurge into the current mainstream medical community. In biofeedback treatment, a therapist makes several subtle suggestions, which enable you subconsciously to choose a correct or better physiological response to stimuli than previously chosen. This method has successfully been used to reduce stress, lower instances of tension headaches, and ease symptoms of depression and other psychosomatic disorders. Biofeedback has crossed the fine line between medical and alternative methods and become a basic tool for healing the body and mind in a more general unified sense in the United States.
Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. (1998). Our Bodies, Ourselves: For the New Century. Simon & Schuster, New York.Myers, D.G. (1999). Exploring Psychology (4th ed.). Worth, New York.