Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stress Equation

How Stress affects the Body:

Unresolved, unexpressed painful emotions = physiological stress = immune system dysfunction, dgeneration of body systems and abnormal cell growth, + time = illness and disease

So there you have it, a simple equation, isn't it?

Where are you on the scale of one to ten on the Stress Barometer?

Have you resolved your unresolved painful emotions? or do you even know where they are living in your body?

Are you feeling overtired, overwhelmed and under motivated about life in general?

The best remedy I can think of is Rest.  Unplug, hunker down, and take a nap.

Second best (but not one I readily turn to): Exercise, fresh air, a brisk walk near water or trees

Third best (highly recommend): talking with a close friend or bosom pal

But my favourite Self-Awareness tool is my journal. I try and make time to write every day even if its only for 10 minutes. Free hand writing is best - just sit and let yourself express whatever you are feeling, following no set pattern, not lifting your hand off the page. First thing in the morning is a good time for accessing the subconscious, fresh from dreams.  (recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way)  .

Another method of understanding the sources of stress and/or emotional pain is through Visual Journalling. I've discovered that it allows a similar process of self-discovery but through drawing (crayons, pastels).  The idea is not to produce a work of art, but to access the wisdom of the right brain, let the body talk to us in its metaphors (circles, houses, colours, shapes, flowers, rainbows, dark pits).

Most of us think stress is normal, and we just live with it.  We don't question where it's coming from, or we assume it's just part of life: if I can't change it, I might as well accept it.

What if you looked at things differently?

Take some time to access and assess your body's wisdom today.  Explore the 'pain in your neck', or the 'cramp in your gut'.  What stresses you? What's keeping you from your joy?

Emotions are teachers, and we need to allow their safe expression.  Don't ignore your own needs, make them felt, seen and heard.  Dance with them. 

According to the authors of Visual Journaling, work with cancer patients has shown that, the act of expressing a stress-producing emotion through drawing/painting moves the emotion energetically outside the body where it can no longer activate the stress response.

Go for some crazy scribbling, in your notebook or sketch pad.  Ask the question, and receive the answer.

Do it now!

stress equation from: Visual Journalling, Going Deeper than Words, Barbara Ganim and Susan Fox

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