Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How to reduce stress in this crazy, crazy world


By Larry Green

We all know about stress. Today is tax day, there's rush hour traffic, your next project deadline, a least favorite co-worker, your teenager's plans for spring break, Al-Qaida's plans and your recent investment portfolio. Notice your stress level shifting into high gear?

Stress happens. There is no stimulus plan to eliminate it from modern life. There are however solutions and strategies to reduce and control stress. These can be the key to fewer illnesses, better personal productivity and living a longer, happier life.

Some stress management gurus focus on changing your outer circumstances to lower your stress exposure. Others recommend coping mechanisms or practices that act as a pressure release valve. Lists of these tried and true approaches are available through any Google search.

An alternative approach exists that consists of learning how to change your neurological response to life's events. This low-tech, high-impact, human-level "technology" can change your stress quicker and easier than you ever imagined.

How your body manages stress

We have all heard of the "fight or flight" response. During stress, our bodies act as they have for thousands of generations. The endocrine system responds by pumping extra adrenaline and hormones into the blood stream, respiration and heart rates increase, blood pressure rates climb and the digestion processes take a holiday. All of this was useful when our ancestors suddenly saw a saber-tooth tiger coming. Fight or flight proved a good idea for nature to hard-wire into the human system.

During stress, the blood flow within the brain also shifts while neural activity in the cerebral cortex diminishes. In simple terms, blood flow becomes more pronounced in the back brain (sometimes called the primitive or reptilian brain) and the frontal cortex activity (the executive center) turns down like a dimmer switch.

This was a good survival reaction out in the wild, but not so helpful now when you need to think through new options or rein in wild runaway emotions galloping through the amygdala (the brain's emotional center).

How to change your response to stress

Research from the field of Energy Kinesiology shows we can consciously and easily change that activity. We can rewire our stress triggers while resetting our neurological responses for future stress.

How can you do this? The answer is a skill called the Emotional Stress Release technique (ESR). It's a simple, user-friendly skill anyone can learn. You can perform your own test drive in two minutes.