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Here's a thought for May 13

May 13, 2011
By the Rev. Paul Wolf , Marshall Independent

Summer relaxation

Relaxation is an important part of taking good care of yourself. It's a common enough word, yet very few of us have had much experience with real relaxation. Real relaxation is a focused, intentional period of time during which one is mindful and alert, where one restores energy and boosts mood and performance levels. Summer is a good time to take stock of "resting," "relaxing." However, many also find this time busy with many activities that cause more stress than relaxation. I would suggest one of the best places for "relaxation" is that of the time spent with the Lord and people of common faith. Have you taken time with the Lord, in His house?

Stress is the accumulation of tension that you begin to feel, both physically and emotionally, as you try to adapt to all the changes and demands in your environment. There are many stressful life events that we all experience at one time or another, such as death of a loved one or the loss of an important relationship. While these events would be stressful to anyone, it is not so much what happens out there, as what you do with it for yourself. In addition, stress can build up on a daily basis due to the "stuff" of life and can be just as damaging as major life events if you do not learn how to release it. How you manage the stressful events in your life will determine whether you feel temporary anxiety or long-term anxiety, relatively short-term sadness and grief, or chronic depression. This is true for physical problems as well. If you find ways to manage your stress you might have only mild stomach or intestinal distress from time to time rather than developing ulcers or colitis. That is to say, if you do not manage the stress in your life on a daily basis, it can have long-term consequences.

People experience stress in different ways. A stressful event for one person might be relatively minor for another person. Also, stress is not necessarily bad. A small or manageable amount of stress might motivate one to achieve and could help them give their best performance. Even anticipated and happy events such as graduation or marriage can be stressful.

Our stress reaction is triggered when we perceive danger: whether it is physical danger or emotional danger or both. Our bodies have what is known as a "fight or flight" response which helps you respond quickly if you are suddenly faced with danger. Anything that we perceive as a threat stimulates our body to respond: the heart rate increases; blood pressure rises; hormones pour into the blood that send sugar to the muscles and brain to mobilize energy; digestive processes are turned off so energy is available elsewhere, and so on. Our bodies begin to experience wear and tear when these processes are stimulated over and over again with no outlet.

It is important to take some time to examine what is stressful to you and then devise a plan for yourself. Try to figure out what you can and cannot change. Maybe you can eliminate some stressors or find a way to encounter them less often. It is better if you can do this evaluation and put some methods of stress reduction to work for yourself before you are in the middle of a crisis.

Stress can affect your life. Relaxation with a deep relationship with the Lord and common believers may ease and help one's personal life. (Loyola College Counseling Center)



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