Take a Mini-Vacation from Stress and Illness

Sunday, December 2, 2012

At least three times a day I schedule mini-vacations for myself. I call them mini-vacations because each one lasts about 25 minutes. My mini-vacations, by definition, are time away from daily stressors. Daily stressors can come at us from all arenas of our life—work, family, communication, marriage, relationships, environment, illness, and simply an overactive mind moving at the speed of light.

In an article I read recently about the top happiest nations in the world, the United States ranked at 150 on that list. Pretty pathetic, I thought. And then I read further about the island nation of Vanuatu which ranked #1 in the world. “Wow,” I thought. “Where is Vanuatu and how do I get there?”

It was with that question I realized that I can and do frequently visit Vanuatu three times a day for 25 minute intervals. I’ve created my own Vanuatu by making the time for my mini-vacations—mini-vacations that I walk away from feeling as if I am a resident of the #1 happiest nation in the world—myself!

The peace, joy, inspiration, gratitude, balance, and calm I create within myself and project onto my outer world is much like having my own private Vanuatu. I visit Vanuatu anytime I make time for practicing meditation, deep relaxation exercises, deep breathing exercises, singing at the top of my lungs songs that soothe my soul and emotions, daily hikes with my dog, Shiatsu and Yoga stretching, imagery exercises and chanting.

I invite you all to book your own mini-vacations daily. And the next time you visit Vanuatu within yourself know that I am smiling with you.

posted by pri cri at 8:26 AM

Stress Related Illness: When Did It Become The American Way?

Did You Know?

1) Seven of every ten people who die each year had been living with a chronic illness

2) One of every two of us is now living with a chronic illness

3) For three of every four of those with a chronic illness stress may be a contributing factor (American Medical Association)

4) When we feel the effects of emotional and mental stress, our health is compromised by a primitive fight or flight response that produces stress hormones even when we are not really in immediate danger.

5) A study published in "Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association'' showed that mental stress can decrease blood flow to the heart. This study regarding stress related illness likened stress with bad cholesterol and smoking as risk factors for coronary heart disease patients

I don’t know about you but I find the above statistics to be rather alarming! And if it’s common knowledge that stress is a big factor in more than 75% of all illness diagnosed today what are we doing as a nation to combat stress?

Are we all in denial? If you really trusted that your life, health and well-being was at stake would that be enough for you to turn the tables on stress and say “Enough is enough! I’m going to make some conscious choices here that dismantle the behaviors, thoughts, habits and actions which keep stress in place and leave the door wide open for illness to come on into my life?”

I often wonder why we aren’t seeing Stress Management 101 classes offered to our youth in high school so as to better prepare them for living healthy and long lives. Where was that class when I was in school? And why is my doctor more likely to write me a script for Xanax than recommend I attend a meditation seminar or creative visualization classes when I tell her I’m suffering from anxiety? But most of all, when did we decide as a nation that it was acceptable, “normal,” and even honorable to be living high stress lives?

One of the biggest reasons people give me when I ask them why they give so little focus to mastering their stress is that they don’t have the time. They don’t have the time to get a massage, work with a coach, meditate, practice creative visualization or deep breathing exercises. They don’t have time to practice new and healthy habits, take a break, or get 8 hours of sleep nightly.

Time: The age old excuse for everything. When are we going to stop using that one? Time is never really the issue—priority is the issue—commitment is the issue. Time can be one hell of a scapegoat for those things we say we most want to do but never get around to doing.

The truth is we don’t have time to put other things ahead of our stress management. The data on the health risk associated with that action are much too threatening. Shifting your commitment towards making time for learning how to live well and minimize stress in your life requires a willingness to debunk some socially acceptable beliefs that keep stress and illness in play.

Repeat after me—Being stressed out is NOT normal over long periods of time. Your body was not built to maintain high stress levels throughout the day. It doesn’t have the capacity or the willingness to remain in the Fight or Flight response for too long before it starts breaking down.

Decide right now you must stop walking through life high on adrenaline and challenged by daily and intensive stress that you know is ruling your life. It’s absolutely, inarguably unacceptable. Decide right now you are not willing to become another victim of stress. Your body, mind, emotions, and spirit will thank you for it.

posted by pri cri at 8:24 AM