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Staying in touch

… we say it so lightly, yet it’s an important concept for our wellness. Staying in touch with others, staying in touch with ourselves, and staying in actual physical touch with our lives are all important.
One of the ways to reach relaxation and give ourselves some relief from daily stress is to touch someone or something. It stills our brain which is always thinking, and allows us to go somewhere else for a change.
Our “self-talk” can be a great source of stress, and one we can change and eliminate. It’s not just the things that are going on in our world that stress us, but how we look at it, which in turn becomes what we “say” to ourselves about it.
We may say, “This is awful,” or “I’m an idiot,” or “I’ll never get through this.” These are not helpful statements, and in fact add to our stress. But our brain keeps generating these things until we learn to manage what goes on in there better. This may be the origin of the phrase, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” When our “minds” aren’t occupied we can generate thoughts that are upsetting to us. I have also heard this quoted as “Idle hands are the devil’s tools.” So why not keep those hands and that mind occupied so it doesn’t “go there”. Anger doesn’t help, worry doesn’t help, pessimism and ruminating don’t help.
Whether we use the word “brain” or “mind” or a part of the brain (left), you’re probably familiar with that voice in your head … it usually comes up when you need it the least, and it is rarely helpful.
The best way to deal with stress is to remove the sources of it. Then develop your Emotional Intelligence.
Here are ways some people use to give themselves some relief from the stress for a while.
KNITTING
Knitting is having a comeback. If you’re old enough to remember Rosie Grier (football player), you’ll remember that he at one time took up knitting, and how surprised everyone was. So if you’re a guy and would like to give it a try, you’re in good company.
I’ve also known doctors who do needlepoint, and many others who enjoy crafts of this sort. You have to think just enough to knit to quiet the brain, and then your hands are busy. I used it a lot to handle tension when I was in college. More people are taking it up all the time.
CHI GONG
No one knows for sure when the practice of Chi Gong (pronounced “chee gung”) began, but it may have been 4-5,000 years ago. It gave birth to Tai Chi, the earliest martial art, which led to the more aggressive martial arts of karate and judo.
Spelled various ways, including Qi Gong, the “Qi” means “energy” and the “gong” means “work” or “practice.” It combines discipline of mind and body, regulating the body through posture, regulating the mind through relaxation and concentration, regulating the breath through self-massage and movement of the limbs.
It’s based on external movement combined with internal quiet and practice in control of the mind.
I must confess not to having practiced it myself, but it sounds like what it’s controlling is that internal “chatter” that goes on, and the emotions that come along with it, and I hear clients speaking highly of it.
SIMPLE DAILY CHORES
Someone told me the other day how beneficial it was to her to do the dishes by hand because it also involved warmth on her hands, and water. Gardening, which keeps the chattering still and involves the hands, is another way.
It may even work to keep the feet busy, such as bicycle riding, or an exercise bike. Of course any kind of exercise is beneficial because of the endorphins it raises, which may apply to all these things.
One client of mine relies on dancing when she’s stressed. She pictures the way a child moves – all arms and legs, motions and expression – and she finds this a great relief, particularly combined with music, which is an extra help in stilling the chattering brain and calming the muscles.
TOUCHING WITH THE HAND
Research has proven that a massage benefits the one who gives it as much as it does the one receives it. Interesting isn’t it?
When we touch our lovers, hug our friends, rock our babies, and pull our children into our laps to read them a story, we are giving the healing of touch.
ANIMAL COMPANIONS
When Amantha is stressed, she tells me she lies down on the floor and pets her dog. She figures the lying down on the floor gets her out of the frame of reference of her daily life … as it would for most of us.
Did you know that just being in the room with a dog lowers the blood pressure of ailing seniors, healthy college students, and a child reading. There’s a connection there you’re aware of if you have an animal companion. They’re a comfort to us, and hopefully we are to them as well, because they give us a lot.
In fact dogs and other animals are now being used for therapy of different types. There’s an Animal Volunteer Companion program where you can take your dog, cat, bird, or hamster to a nursing home, shelter, prison or other institution to bring all the things that animals bring to those who are no longer able to be with animals on a daily basis.
Taking your dog for a walk brings great stress relief and also the added factor that it can be a social experience. A dog is an instant topic of conversation and we feel at ease approaching someone with their dog to have a chat. Conversation flows freely. You’re also outdoors where things look different. Social isolation is a form of stress that can be remedied in this way.
Whether it’s painting with your child, doing needlepoint while you watch TV, going out to the barn to do a little carpentry, planting broccoli, or giving your partner a massage, use those hands in quieting, repetitive tasks and watch the stress levels go down! Touch your world. It will keep you grounded.
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