There is no more well known health topic than stress. Indeed understanding stress (its sources, implications, and methods of relief) in today's world is critical, as stress is correlated with 90% of all dis-ease in our bodies. That is, upon scientific analysis of the antecedents to multiple major diseases, stress was identified as the precursory circumstance that supported the onset of the disease state. Could there be a more strong validation of the mind/body connection? That which we "see" as stress in our world (our minds), affects the creation of disease (our bodies).
Here are examples of how prevalent stress is and how it affects our health:
Healthful living is about both engaging that which nourishes health, and release those factors that influence us negatively, that hold us back. Stress is a main culprit and inhibitor of overall health. As such, your own personal study of stress, and stress management, will serve you now and long into the future.
- Coronary disease has increased 500% in the last 50 years.
- An estimated one million Americans have some form of major heart or blood vessel disease.
- An estimated one million have heart attacks each year.
- Of those, 650,000 including 200,000 between the ages of 45 and 65 die.
- Approximately 1 in 5 five men will have a coronary attack before the age of 60.
- About 25 million Americans have ulcers.
- Approximately one in eight persons suffer with migraine headaches at some time.
- Americans consume $500,000,000 worth of aspirin each year.
- More than 230 million prescriptions are filled each year, including five billion doses of tranquilizers, three billion of amphetamines and five billion of barbiturates.
We're including this excellent article by Sonya Green from Western Australia. We appreciate her open and refreshing style of explaining how stress (and our thoughts, our language) affects our health.
Stress Reduction and Management
How Fear Worry and Obsessive Negative thoughts destroy your health and happiness, by Sonya Green, ReinventingMyself.com
Stress has become the "It" word of the century. Stress reduction, stress management, adrenal exhaustion, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Everyone is stressed. Stress appears to be the number one killer in the Western world. Most illness and disease is bought on by stress or at the very least, recovery or healing is impeded by stress. We are told that families are breaking down under stress and most accidents are caused by stress. Anxiety attacks, phobias and depression are all stress related. Heart disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue, allergies, high blood pressure and headaches are just a few of the commonly listed complaints that originate from stress. It is now widely believed, and well researched, that almost all disease and illness has a stress related component.
Because the word stress has become so overused, we appear to be indifferent to it, or perhaps we don't fully understand the meaning of what it is or how it's effects relate to our health (both mental and physical).
Let's first look at stress as a good thing. It is like a fire alarm within your body. When the alarm goes off, you immediately stop what you are doing and instantly your total awareness is focused on danger. Your full attention goes to:
Stress is the body's alarm bell. If you are in danger, your stress reaction not only alerts you to the danger, but actually shuts down some of your bodily functions while it speeds up or activates other more urgently needed bodily functions. Your mind will stop all thinking except for a heightened alertness to the danger. Your heart will pump hard and fast in preparation for great physical exertion, and your muscles will tighten to protect you from being hurt or prepare you to attack or run.
- Confirming if the fire exists;
- Protecting yourself and your property;
- Alerting others to the danger; and
- Preparing to run or fight.
Many chemicals will flood your body and most body functions that are not a matter of life or death will be closed down or minimized. This is fantastic, as you become super powerful and super alert. Many people who experience a traumatic event, such as a car accident, have no memory of that event. This is because the event subjects your body to extreme stress. Often before a car crash, the mind and body are so focused on the crash, that the mind goes completely into automatic pilot and rarely do people remember the actual impact. You may have heard of or experienced "going into shock". This is another example of how the mind completely blocks out everything and behavior becomes unconscious and automatic. You may not remember a trauma for hours, days, or even longer, as your mind sorts and gathers the information, to protect you from such an overload. Stress protects you and, in the appropriate situation, is a wonderful and amazing thing.
Good stress can also be found in happy events. For example, in the birth of a child, a new job, a wedding, holidays, or moving house. If you need to sing, or speak in public, you may also experience stress. Stress in these situations can be very helpful as it brings about a heightened mental alertness and increased energy. Stress when working appropriately is a very good thing. Appropriately simply means that your reserve tank is used for emergency purposes. When the event is over the body is given time to return to normal function and be replenished.
Going back to the fire alarm analogy, imagine a city hospital. Within the hospital are hundreds of staff members, patients, and visitors. The prime purpose of a hospital may be surgery, so you may consider the doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists as the priority people. The machinery and pharmacy are also priority components. Within the system you also have cleaners, administrators, gardeners, canteen staff, orderlies, and laundry workers, etc. The smooth running and total efficiency of the hospital relies on all of these things working together. Although we usually only think about the surgeons and the emergency rooms within a hospital, it is pretty clear that all the services need to work well together for the hospital to function effectively.
Now imagine if the fire alarm of the hospital is sounded every day for a month. Every time the alarm rings all tasks stop and everyone needs to leave the building. Things like the laundry and canteen become very unimportant as everyone's attention is directed to the safety of the patients. Everyone within the system would prioritize their reaction to protecting or evacuating the patients.
Now, consider if every alarm were a false alarm, by the end of the month, the whole system would be in disarray. Hopefully no lives would be lost and the priorities within the hospital met, but imagine the impact on all the less important parts. Another outcome from this false alarm and its repetition would be that the staff would become complacent about the alarm. After so many proving to be false, you would find that the staff would be less reactive and perhaps get to the point where they simply ignored future alarm bells. Certainly, they would not be as responsive as they were weeks earlier. In effect, the alarm is the same, the danger is the same, but the reaction has changed.
This is how stress works within our body: Initially the body will take energy from the less urgent bodily functions and increase energy to the more urgent bodily functions. If this is continued over a period of time, those less urgent but very necessary functions become greatly effected. The snowball effect of this is that ultimately the entire body becomes exhausted, allowing disease and illness to start their takeovers. We eventually get to the point where we no longer listen to the warnings or become indifferent to the discomfort. Many people live with extreme stress every day, but no longer recognize or respond to it. These people feel normal because the stress has become a habit.
Stress is using your reserve tank. It will save your life when necessary, but if you are continually left to run on empty it will blow your motor.
Please understand that when I address less urgent bodily functions I am not suggesting they are unimportant. Every function is necessary to health and well-being. Prolonged stress shuts down or speeds up these functions, which should be humming along at the right speed. Imagine running a car with no oil, little air in the tires, a dry radiator, and faulty spark plugs. Then imagine if you plant your foot on the accelerator at every green light and slam on the brakes at every red light. These may be considered little things, but you know that this car is about to have some major problems.
Obvious stress, when your heart is pumping, your hands are sweating or cold, your body becomes frozen, and your voice is an octave higher, is easily recognized;
Lying alone in the dark at night, hearing footsteps outside your bedroom door.
Realizing your brakes have failed, as you approach a red light on the freeway
Having a dentist's drill touching a nerve in your tooth.
Living in a dysfunctional home.
Working for a monster boss.
Long-term illness or pain.
Most of us cope with obvious stress. Obvious stress is usually over in a short period of time and is appropriate stress. It's like having a big brother and a gang of his mates, stepping in to get you out of trouble. Appropriate stress gives you super strength and heightened alertness. When the danger has passed you will feel very tired, you may feel shaky and angry, but then you'll calm down and return to normal. Prolonged stress is harmful, but we usually adapt in some way or ultimately remove the stress or ourselves from the source. If left unchecked it will eat away at you over time and will certainly become a problem. Prolonged stress, is stress that you don't take care of, as soon as you should. It's often stress by choice or inaction.
Silent but deadly stress.
This is the most insidious and constant stress. This is fear and worry.
Silent but deadly stress is where I really want you to pay attention. The most important thing to know about fear and worry is that to your sub-conscious mind the fear is real.
When you are deep in thought your mind is reading that information visually and emotionally. The sub-conscious is not logical or rational, it simply records and files information. The filing system works by priority. The more often information comes in that is the same or similar, the more often it will be added to that storage compartment. Many of our random thoughts are stored far, far, away or perhaps even dumped completely. However, if same or similar information keeps coming in, the brain will consider this information to be important. It will also consider it to be true.
The mind will create emotional or physical reactions to information. Take as an example when you are watching a thriller or horror movie. Your conscious mind knows it's a movie, but your subconscious does not. Your heart begins to pound, your breathing becomes fast or shallow, and you may experience Goosebumps or even scream. This is because your mind is living this information.
Watching an erotic movie can bring about a physical sexual response. Hearing a song on the radio can bring you to tears as you remember an old friend or lover. It's important to understand this, as fear and worry will have you believing that these events are happening to such a degree that you are constantly putting your emotions and body into living and experiencing things that are not happening.
When you lie in bed at night worrying about bills and debt, your emotional world is actually living in poverty. When the kids are out on a Saturday night, your emotional world is living through car accidents or muggings. When your headache is imagined as a brain tumour, your mind is constantly processing all your fears and worries and believing them to be true. We are aware that under obvious stress our bodies release adrenalin, cortisol and other hormones and chemicals, but are you aware that by imagining danger you also release these chemicals?
Stress will also interfere with your immune system, increases cholesterol and free radical damage, raise blood pressure, and reduce breathing. The thoughts are imagined, but the emotional and physical responses are real.
The interesting thing about fear and worry is our ability to exaggerate and expand them. We never exaggerate and expand good things, yet at the slightest suggestion of something negative, off we go! Consider this; Someone at your office mentions that they have heard a rumour that there may be staff cutbacks. You go back to your desk and start thinking, "I bet it's me". You imagine telling your husband and kids that you have lost your job. You imagine getting behind in the mortgage and losing your home. Your mind starts up a conversation with your husband and you're totally lost in this argument in your head.
You imagine your marriage suffering and taking the kids out of school. Your mind then shifts to a new argument with your boss. Boy, are you telling him what you really think. Out comes all the victimization and lack of respect and appreciation, as you remind him of how much you've sacrificed for the company.
By lunchtime you are sitting with a friend and the entire hour is spent discussing your impending dismissal and the hardships ahead. Your shoulders are tight, you cannot eat and a headache is coming on. You decide to storm back into the office and quit. You are now so angry you want the final say and you want to at least have a final swipe at the boss. Luckily, the initial rumour teller catches you at the door and lets you know that the rumour is untrue.
This is an example of how we exaggerate and expand negativity and also illustrates how your sub-conscious mind produces emotional and physical responses to fear and worry. When your mind believes, your body and behaviour will react as if it were really happening.
The Chattering Monkey
The chattering monkey sits on your shoulders and chatters non-stop in your ear. This is the head conversation we have while driving the car or lying in bed at night. The previous example is a common scenario of the chattering monkey. The chattering monkey takes a slight negative remark and engages your mind in a long discussion with amazing exaggeration. The chattering monkey will always convince you of the absolute worst outcome to the slightest problem. We all do it and we all do it a lot.
Take a 30 minutes drive on your own and I'll bet you are totally oblivious to the journey. In those 30 minutes, you are engaged in conversation with the chattering monkey.
You leave the house thinking your husband was quiet this morning. The chattering monkey comes in and the discussion goes something like this: First, he'll exaggerate it; Your Husband is quiet all the time lately, maybe he is seriously ill or perhaps he is having problems at work" "Maybe he has lost interest in you?" "He's having an affair"
"He takes you for granted, and he does not love you."
The chattering Monkey always likes to go back into history and search out similar events and add them to the argument. You think about last week, last month and last year. Now you have a list of concerns about your husband's quiet mood. In fact it's not a quiet mood anymore, it's abandonment, aloofness and indifference. He's selfish and takes you for granted. You add up all the good things you do for him and you add up all the rotten things he does to you.
In your mind you are having a full on argument with your husband; he says and you say… This example also shows that thoughts create emotions and emotions create physical and mental reactions. As far as your body is concerned you have just been in a fight with your husband. You are angry, hurt and afraid, your muscles are tight, your head aches and you feel like crying, your blood pressure is up and you are exhausted. When you arrive home your husband is happy to see you and you realize he was simply, quiet this morning for no reason at all.
The chattering monkey also loves to expand your negativity into your history. You find yourself pulling every similar event since childhood into the current problem.
Imagine if the chattering Monkey worked on positive thoughts. Imagine if every time something good happened or something nice was said, we could exaggerate and add to it. Imagine driving along thinking; "I am really loved and everyone I know respects, admires and supports me." Think about the great person you are and go back a week, a month or a year and gather every great thing that you can think of. How often would you exaggerate it?
Unfortunately we do not do this. Consider spending the next week observing your own chattering monkey. See how easy it is to engage in head conversations that are extremely exaggerated when they are negative and watch how rarely we do the same thing with positive remarks.
Talking with the chattering monkey is probably the most stressful thing we do. It's stressful because it's a habit, and it's constant. The number one cause of depression and anxiety is the chattering monkey. This is because the chattering monkey takes small problems and allows the mind to exaggerate them into the worst possible scenario.
You will rarely if ever have situations in your real life that come anywhere close to the horror your mind can create.
If your memory was good enough, you could add up the actual crises you had last year and then add up the imagined ones. Your emotional and physical responses to both are the same. Remember the mind does not separate real from imagined.
If we could eliminate imagined crises, dealing with real problems would be a breeze. I would suggest that as much as 90% of our stress comes from an imagined source. Can you imagine how healthy, happy, and productive you could be if you just killed the chattering monkey? (Please read this paragraph again)
The Chattering Monkey has a cousin. Equally diabolical and It's known as Media.
The Media lives in your home and provides your mind with every type of fear, worry, anxiety and negativity. The Media will convince you that you're not good enough and feed you a constant diet of self-doubt, comparisons and fears.
The average person in today's world starts the day with a newspaper or radio news broadcast. The mind has absorbed a murder, a political dispute, a terrorist attack, a new disease, a few robberies and a car chase before you leave for work.
You drive to work, the radio is on, and you now listen to these again.
You arrive at work and your colleagues for some reason mention the news they heard (like you didn't!) and engage you in a conversation about the murder, the terrorist attack, the new disease, etc.
Driving home you listen to the radio and of course the news is back again. You're now feeling like there are lots of murders and diseases is everywhere. You wonder if that cough is a new virus, you lock the car doors as you think about car jacking.
How do you feel?
You eat dinner in front of the TV watching the news, you eat desert watching a current affairs program and then watch a criminal investigation show. How do you feel?
Not to mention the ads. "Is your deodorant letting you down? Is your kitchen alive with germs? Do you have the right insurance? Are you looking good? Are your kids safe?"
Most of these subliminal messages are designed to encourage you to buy things. They are geared to instil fear and insecurity in you. Are you buying this? Think about the amount of negative input you are absorbing.
Negative thinking creates negative feelings which create negative responses and negative behaviour.
Negative thoughts are the other silent deadly stress. Are you brave enough to let it go?
There is no person and no event that will ever be as ruthless to you as your own thoughts. You may have been devastated by events in your life, but you are the only one who chooses to relive them over and over. No matter how terrible it was to have your heart broken 10 years ago, it is not nearly as terrible as the fact that you have relived it and kept it in your mind ever since.
You may have been bullied, abused, humiliated or assaulted and yes these are terrible things, but compared to how often we relive these experiences and how exaggerated they have become within us, you can only ask; "Who is the real enemy? Who is causing the pain now?
Implode or Explode.
Have you ever seen a building implode? A number of explosives are placed in strategic places so that when they are set off the building collapses into itself. It's the opposite of explode. Exploding comes from the inside and blows out whilst imploding collapses into itself. When you implode a building it usually does not affect the surrounding buildings but it is itself totally annihilated.
Women tend to implode and men to explode. Stress has many faces; it may be fear, guilt, insecurity, worry, anger, irritation, impatience, self-doubt or any one of the negative emotions. Unlike obvious stress, Imploding stress is a constant supply of stress which is sucked down and swallowed. Everyday things, such as, bad service in a shop, waiting too long on hold, disrespectful comments, and lack of appreciation, are sources of imploding stress. Certainly big stresses can be involved, but it's more the build up that I'm addressing here. When you implode you are not challenging the aggravation, because, it seems too trivial or you just don't feel assertive enough to speak out. So, you keep silent and swallow it. When it builds it turns to anger and then you implode. Women have been conditioned from childhood to "be nice, be sweet"; by the time we are adults it is common to react by swallowing and imploding.
Men, on the other hand, are commonly conditioned to avoid showing most emotions. They learn very early that showing their feelings of insecurity or fear is considered a weakness. However, for some very strange irrational reason, men are encouraged to turn most "weak emotions" into anger. Anger is very masculine and acceptable. When men feel guilty, insecure, worried, afraid, or impatient they have an automatic mechanism which turns these emotions into anger.
Anger explodes. If women understood this about men, there would be a lot less conflict in relationships. If you knew your husband's angry outburst was fear or insecurity, wouldn't you be a little more understanding and supportive? Unfortunately, when a man expresses himself through anger, most women panic and feel threatened. When anger explodes women feel afraid or threatened, so they swallow that fear and then implode.
Although Imploding is more common in women, don't think that men don't do it. Of course they do.
When you implode you take your anger into the centre of your body. This is often the cause of women's eating disorders. Overeating gives a sense of releasing tension in this area, not eating gives a sense of protecting this area, some people manifest indigestion, ulcers, constipation or stomach cramps.
When anger explodes it is very unattractive and frightening for others, but at least it makes the angry person feel better as they release it. (Unless they've turned it to violence or destruction).
Imploding is like pouring drain cleaner into your stomach. It eats away at you.
Imploding is usually related to not speaking up for yourself. It's about self-disrespect and it's about taking on responsibility for something that is not your responsibility.
I'm not suggestion that you go to war with every issue, but I am suggesting, that you very quickly recognize when someone is treating you unfairly or disrespectfully and speak up for yourself, rather than carrying it in your mind and imploding. If you feel uncomfortable speaking out, then at least, speak to yourself and affirm "This is not about me."
If you are treated unfairly or disrespectfully you need to leave it at the original source. State clearly, without aggression, what you think. Do not turn it on yourself and swallow it. If someone is rude, critical, lazy or inconsiderate to you, it's their stuff not yours. You don't have access to their motivation and you don't need to fix their problems. You do need to be responsible for what you take on and keep.
Funnily enough, if you witnessed your kid being bullied or treated unkindly you would jump in like a mad dog and fight to the end. You'd certainly find your voice if your best friend was being treated rudely. You are the first person to tell others, "Well, that's not your fault why are you feeling guilty?" or "That's not fair, did you complain to the person in charge?" Well why on earth do you not treat your self with the same respect?
Ask yourself this: If the girl at the checkout counter hates her job and converts that hatred into rudeness, how is that your fault? Why would you be keeping it in your head after you leave the store? Why did you not take it in your hand, look at it, decide it's not yours and hand it back?
If you seriously want to minimize stress in your life, you must become aware of what stress is. Catch it at the onset, name it, and leave it at its original source. If you practice the art of speaking calmly and kindly in response to inappropriate behaviour you'll be on your way to self-love.
Too many people accept bad service, disrespect, criticism, blame, rudeness, ignorance, unkindness and inconsideration. Every time you keep silent, you are allowing it to be acceptable. Imagine if everyone said in a kind and gentle way, "I think this anger is yours, I'm not able to carry it for you"
Even if you don't speak up, at least make a commitment to yourself that you will not promote, own, or carry other people's stuff.
You could be making a huge contribution to yourself, and the world, by fulfilling your obligation to challenge and refute bad behaviour. When is it time to take back your mind? When do you make the decision to be healthy, happy, and fully alive?
So, What's the answer?
It's dead easy to minimize stress, nothing hard or complicated at all. You will find it a little difficult to be consistent. Habits take time and attention and that's all that stress is – a habit. A hundred times a day you will be pulled back into your old habits, so be prepared to be tenacious and simply pull yourself up and re-direct your thoughts every time you drift back.
Apart from avoiding negative thoughts you need to replace them with new thoughts. In a short time you can actually re-wire your thinking to take in positive instructions. Remember the thoughts you have create the emotions and responses you have.
I mentioned earlier that under stress you release chemicals and hormones but it's worth noting you also possess pleasure chemicals. When you think and feel love, happiness, or joy, you actually release pleasure chemicals throughout your body. A little natural high.
Meditation and Creative visualization are the most effective ways to re-programme the mind. Both require a deep relaxed state and cause a change in brain waves. This helps to bypass logical thinking and accesses the sub-conscious mind more effectively. By repeating certain instructions or images, you are actually tricking your mind into believing these great things are happening.
The repetition also speeds up the habit-forming part of the information. In a meditative state the immune system works more effectively, so you have the added advantage of healing and repairing your mind and body. You can also release any stress build up that may have been accumulating. A meditative state can be as effective as deep sleep. Your body can re-balance itself and restore it's energy. The added advantage of using visual images is that you are using positive instructions to manipulate your emotional world. For more information on Creative Visualization click the link above.
To be stress free we must be healthy and to be healthy we must be stress free. You are what you eat. Food provides energy and every cell within your body requires energy to live. The first indication of stress is fatigue. Fatigue is the body's wisdom calling out for attention. Cells die off and are replaced every minute of every day. The food you eat influences the health of new cells.
Your diet can greatly influence your moods, alertness, vitality and your physical health. When your body is not properly nourished you become tired and depressed. Food is preventative medicine and is vital to your body's healing capacity.
The wrong foods pollute your body and can be considered poisonous. There is strong evidence to prove that certain foods increase our protection from disease and illness. The direct cause of many diseases has been found to be nutritional deficiency.
For more information on diet and nutrition services, see Julie Matthews.
Drink plenty of fluid
Ideally water. Dehydration is one of the main causes of fatigue and headaches. Without enough fluid your kidneys become overworked and you are less able to eliminate toxins. Coffee and soft drinks can dehydrate and also rob essential nutrients from your body. Caffeine works like adrenaline so it's like an artificial stress. Don't drink at meal times. Your stomach needs acids to digest food, drinking dilutes those acids.
Physical exercise breaks down stress in the body, produces a sense of well-being and increases energy. Exercise is particularly good for increasing respiration and circulation and decreasing acidity. Stretching and toning exercises help to release toxins and oxygenate the cells, strengthen muscles, and release or ease body aches and minor pains.
Exercise also kick-starts the metabolism and helps to burn off calories, improving digestion and elimination. Many people hate exercising or simply cannot exercise. For these people I highly recommend stretching, swimming, yoga or walking. One of the best things I have tried is the big exercise ball. It's ideal for the lazy person as you can sit and watch TV and gently rock back and forth. If that's not do-able then at least take 30 minutes a day and deep breathe. Deep breathing is almost as beneficial as aerobic exercise.
Deep breathing is the easiest and most effective stress buster available.
The first sign of stress is tiredness. If you know you have had enough sleep and your fatigue has no other obvious cause, then it is probably stress, especially if you are waking up tired. Other warning signs may be:
Next level: Not wanting to leave the house or staying in bed, headaches and muscular aches, food cravings or not eating, allergies or sinus symptoms, skin rashes, small things become very annoying, you become critical and sarcastic, feeling road rage and great impatience. You have trouble sleeping or are having bad dreams, over doing caffeine, nicotine or alcohol (or the ones I'm not mentioning).
- Lack of motivation: you just don't feel like doing anything;
- Fuzzy thinking: your words come out wrong and your writing is a bit dyslexic;
- Feeling like you want to avoid people; or;
- Finding normal conversation irritating.
Up another Level: Your back and shoulders ache and your stomach is tight, everything you try to do stuffs up and everyone in the world is trying to get at you, you cry for no reason, you are having bouts of depression and anxiety, you catch a cold or flu, minor aches are now pains, you feel like hitting someone or something, take days off from work, feel like screaming if caught in a delay.
Top Level: Blood pressure is up, you have pains and aches, headaches, digestive problems, accidents, violent behaviour, depression, phobias and anxiety attacks, constipation and stomach cramps, skin disorders, hair, nails, skin and eyes feel dry. You consider divorce and death, you lose or gain weight, your concentration and memory capacity is affected. You hate everything and everyone.
Some Extra Good Advice.
Attend to stress at Level one: Stress builds and accumulates. Break it down and eliminate it when it's manageable.
Own your own time: No matter who or what is important in your life, you deserve and need some time each day just for yourself.
Get your support network in place: Know who has the best humour and cheerfulness, who is the most compassionate and empathetic, who is the best listener, who is your wisest friend, who will let you grizzle, ramble and act like a madman without trying to fix it. Sometimes you will need to be "jollied" out of it, other times you want help or advice. You may only need to be heard or you might like to let rip and sound off. Know who to call. If you do not have people to fulfil these rolls, then become that person yourself. Yes, I know that talking to yourself is considered to be a sign of madness, but really, not talking to someone when your distressed is more likely to turn you into a madman.
Water: Bath, shower, or swim in it. I don't know why this works but I do know that it does.
Clean your bedroom: Your bedroom is your womb and it needs to be a place to nurture yourself. If your really stressed and your bedroom is ugly, it will feel like your life is ugly.
Eat small amounts throughout the day: If you skip a meal or go too long without eating, your blood sugar level drops and it will feel and act like stress.
Have a glass of wine: In a nice place and ideally with a nice person. Don't get drunk.
Make up a "feel good" CD or Tape: Go through your collection and only put on the music that you know will pick you up.
Night and Day: Your brain needs sunlight and dark. Many studies have proven that a lack of sunlight can cause depression and a lack of darkness can interfere with sleep. Sleep sorts out your thoughts and emotions and your body does most of its healing during sleep. Try to have your lights turned down during the evening.
Pity Party for One: A pity party for one is a good old-fashioned cry. Get out all the sad songs or movies, close the door, take the phone of the hook and spend some time feeling really sorry for yourself. A good old fashioned cry will clean you out and after your through you can apply some of the other techniques to restore yourself.
Dance naked: (Do this one alone, it will scare other people). Crank up the music, get naked and dance until you laugh.
Hum or chant: This may sound a little "new age and hippy", but having internal vibration is like gently shaking your internal energies. It's also a great way to breathe as the breath becomes regulated with each inhalation. Vibration in the chest and throat area release tension and tightness. Great for times when you want to scream, but can't afford that amount of volume.
Have Sex: This one you already know about. If you don't know about it, then don't do it, go to the next one.
Play: Go do something just for fun. We all go through rough times sometimes, plan things in advance so you know who to call and what to do. Make a mental note of things you know that bring you up.
Get to the beach or out of the city: The quality of air near the ocean or near trees is far superior to city air and negative ions can greatly improve your mood.
Do all of the above:
Breathing and Creative Visualization are the most powerful, effective and easy things you can do to release stress.