Pathways to Wellness

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Relaxation and stress

couple on edge of mountain photoFeeling stressed is a fact of life – it’s an automatic, biological response when we are challenged – physically or emotionally. Adrenalin is released, our heart beats faster, our breathing gets deeper, and more blood flows to our brains and muscles so that we can think clearly and quickly, and run away or defend ourselves. This inborn emergency response system works very well when strength and speed are needed right away. But most of the situations which stress us out at home, work, or school don’t require strength or speed, but a cool head, diplomacy and thoughtfulness. Too often we respond in the heat of the moment, and actually make things worse!

Learning how to manage your body’s response to stressful situations will make you more effective in daily life, and will help prevent the long-term impact of stress. Chronic stress has been linked to heart disease, ulcers, and headaches among other ailments.

Listen to Dr. Max Cynader of the Brain Research Centre at UBC explain the effects of stress on the brain, body and behaviour.  The following video is generously provided by Oh Boy Productions and the Brain Research Centre at UBC.

The Brain and Stress from
OhBoyProductions on Vimeo.

Stress management goes by many names: meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, tai chi, yoga, deep breathing, mindfulness – to name a few. Some are easy to learn; others require more practice and dedication. Different people find different approaches useful – try out a few, and find the one that works best for you.

You might want to start by trying out the relaxation exercises below. These were developed by Health and Social Services staff to help smokers deal with stress during and after becoming smoke-free. They work equally well for anyone who wants to learn new ways of handling stress in their lives, no matter what the cause. Feel free to download any or all of the exercises to your iPod or MP3 player. Find the technique that works best for you, and practice it so that you can use it anytime you need it.

Stepping back...

Guided relaxation and mindfulness practices put to the gentle sounds of nature and classical music.

Abdominal breathing to inner sea

Intro: WAV

Exercise [12:41] WAV

Progressive muscle relaxation to sienna sky

Intro: WAV

Exercise [23:35] WAV

Mindfulness of music to velvet rain

Intro: WAV

Exercise [14:52]: WAV

Body scan to unwinding stream

Intro: WAV

Exercise [25:10]: WAV

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