Friday, June 4, 2010

Managing Stress in the Moments You Have

CHICKS ROCK! welcomes Jennifer as a guest blogger this week, as part of TWM's World of Wellness:

Jennifer Edwards MFA, RYT is a writer, body-mind maven, and social entrepreneur. She teaches stress reduction privately and through institutions including the American Heart Association and New York University.

I started focusing on stress management because I grew up with symptoms of chronic stress - irritable bowel syndrome, constant headaches, anxiety, mild depression, oral ulcers, and blurred vision. I experienced this while training as a dancer and eating organic food. I was a poster-child for ‘healthy living’, yet I felt ‘sick’ much of the time. Having undergone batteries of tests and consultations with specialists, I decided, as single mom and college student, to seek answers on my own. I had only 2 questions: why was I ‘sick’ and how could I feel better. My passion became healing myself in the minutes of spare time I had each day.

I have found that modern-day ‘stress’ is a learned behavior. Just like any other habit, you can change the pattern of engaging the primal, neurobiological stress response. When you react to a stressor or trigger, your body releases a series of hormones that create the following results: your heart pumps faster, your digestion and reproductive systems slow down, fats and sugars are dumped into your blood stream for quick energy, and your immune, vascular, ocular and mental systems are (overly) stimulated. This can keep you alive in a situation of real danger - while you fight off or run from a predator. When we engage this reaction multiple times, daily or weekly, stress symptoms can become chronic conditions.

In daily life we often react to situations we perceive as threatening; judgment, others' expectations, or loosing a part of our self-identities (parent, partner, or successful businesswomen). When feeling stressed, start with the knowledge that you are not in real, immediate danger. Understanding the relationship between your body and mind is the first step in managing and reducing stress.

I teach people how to implement mindful practices in the moments they have each day – segments of 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The next ‘Stress Reduction 101’ class starts June 22. Mention TWM and receive 10% off the cost of the class series, or a series of private sessions, as part of TWM’s World of Wellness.

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