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Lifestyle:  How To Control Stress

What’s causing your stress?
A slow buildup of everyday annoyances: a dead car battery, traffic jam, buttons that pop off your clothes as you are going to an important meeting. It’s the little things that get under your skin Is it a tight schedule and seemingly insurmountable problems? Bills to pay, a boss to please? Juggling many roles is a main cause of stress. Maybe it’s positive and negative life changes, from the joy of a wedding to the loss of a spouse, from the exhilaration of a job promotion to sadness at moving away from old friends.

Perhaps the cause of your stress is inner conflict. Anger with your boss actually may be old anger against a parent bubbling to the surface. If you can recognize a pattern from the past, this can be an instant stress reliever. Take some time, even just 30 seconds and write down your feelings.

Relax and control yourself
What you need to do is relax. Huh? It can’t be that simple! Yes, it can and you can do it. No, we can’t control other people and situations. What you can do is control how you respond to people and events. What you have done is to give away control to others. What you need to do is regain that control, seal it up and only let the twins out when it’s really necessary.

When was the last time you actually relaxed? Can you remember what it was like? Were you calm and collected? Was your breathing normal? Were your muscles loose? And, did you feel that way without any outside stimulants like drugs? If so, the good news is that you can restore that same feeling at will. Yes, you can definitely take it back whenever or wherever you choose.

When your mind is bypassing the chemical twins and sending truly relaxing messages to your body, wonderful things begin to happen. Just as the chemical twins jump to attention when you stress, other chemicals go to work when you relax causing you to have a feeling of contentment. While relaxing, actions taken by people and external events are still important but not necessarily personal. You are able to discern that no one is launching a direct attack upon you or anyone or anything of yours.

Small problems remain small problems and not the woolly mammoth charging down upon you. Large events will become smaller and not cause you to get out of your car during gridlock and shout obscenities to the drivers in front of you. When you reach the point of total relaxation you are able to see your world as it is, not for how you feel about it.

Choose not to be angry or upset
Everything you do is a matter of choice. You choose to be angry, happy or indifferent. You make a conscious choice to take action or not to take action. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the chemical twins controlling what you know is stress and you are thrown into chaos. No choice and no idea why you don’t have a choice.

Obviously, relaxing is a good thing because it gives you choice. It puts you back in the driver's seat. So relax already! Sure, just like that.

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Behavior Modification

Do you remember tormenting your neighbor's cat as a child? You had the upper hand until kitty fought back. You’d step away from the torment and probably forget all about it until the next time you scratched. It took a few lessons, but pretty soon you understood if you tormented the cat, the cat would fight back. So you stopped. That was a conscious action taken to prevent being hurt. It was a survival strategy just like fight or flight, except that this was behavior modification instead of an automatic response.

As you grew older, the one behavior that you probably overlooked is the most important one of all, the behavior to relax. If relaxation is just another behavior, then that means it’s a learned response. And, if that is the case you are able to change the behavior. Chances are you were never taught how to do that. You have to teach your brain how to do it. Actually, your brain already knows how subconsciously, but you need to teach it how to do it consciously. In order to do that, you need an understanding of how your mind works.

Everything you have ever encountered or done in your entire lifetime is permanently recorded in your subconscious mind. Most of it is not remembered consciously. If I ask you, “How much is two and two,” you will immediately answer, “four.” That was from your conscious memory. But if I ask you what you had for dinner ten years ago tonight, it will more than like be impossible for you to consciously remember it at all. However, your subconscious remembers it in great detail.

When you drive your car, you are probably thinking about all kinds of things other than driving the car. Your subconscious, through habit, is controlling all your driving actions. You just automatically arrive at your destination without giving it detailed conscious thought. You don’t have to think “push the brake” or “ease up on the gas pedal.” You do it all automatically, controlled by your subconscious. Your subconscious is designed to protect you. It controls all body functions. If you are cold in the night, it awakens you. If you need to go to the bathroom, it awakens you also. It controls your heartbeat and all other involuntary functions of the body. Your subconscious doesn’t rationalize; it doesn’t ask questions, doesn’t know truth from falsehood. It merely acts upon whatever information is stored within.

States of consciousness
There are actually four states of consciousness, but for our purposes we will be dealing with just two:
Beta – this is our waking state
Alpha – first step to the subconscious
The Alpha state is where we will begin our work. This is the state where you are relaxed, the normal machinations of your conscious mind are just a little distant and you feel warm and comfortable. The chemical twins are sealed up where they belong Have you ever sat in a car waiting for a friend or family member to run in and make a quick purchase or run an errand? It may be a warm, sunny, spring day. The window is open and you can feel a gentle breeze caress your cheek and fluff your hair. The sun feels warm and cozy on your face. Before you know it, your eyelids begin to droop as you sit and enjoy a moment of oneness with your surroundings. Not awake and not asleep, you are totally relaxed and content to drift along quietly enjoying the sensation of the warm sun and the gentle breeze.

If you have ever had this or a similar experience, you were in that Alpha state. Close your eyes and see if you can recapture the same sensations you had while you were in that state. Take a few moments to do that, then imagine a car door slamming and pulling you instantaneously back into the Beta state. Wow! What a rude awakening.

Meditation and Self-Hypnosis
Alpha level is where you can do the best work for yourself on a subconscious level. This is also a state of meditation, and the level you work with using self-hypnosis. The truth is that you are actually in this state every single day at least two times. Those times are the fleeting moments just before you drift off to sleep and just as you awaken.

Your conscious mind has the ability to reason out a course of action that would be helpful to you. However, the conscious mind needs the cooperation of the subconscious and will send its energy out to implement the decision. Your energy source is the subconscious mind. No matter what you consciously do to instruct the subconscious mind to do something there is no way to permanently override what the subconscious mind has been programmed to do.

Let’s take a look at some examples. If a very young child is told by a parent, teacher, elder sibling or anyone else in a position of authority:
“You never do anything right.”
“What’s the matter with you?”
“Why can’t you be more like Billy?”
“Don’t you have a brain in your head.”
“Why are you so stupid?”
“You will never amount to anything!”
This child will often be a failure in life. The reason is that this child’s conscious mind is not developed enough to block this type of information. Therefore, it becomes a fact in his subconscious mind. As he/she grow to adulthood, his subconscious will be a very good student and apply everything it has learned. Remember, the subconscious is not right or wrong, good or bad, it is merely a computer just like the one you are reading from now.

The subconscious will force the conscious to act in exactly the same manner that was programmed as a child. The subconscious mind will only accept what the conscious mind believes at the time the suggestion is offered. However, if the conscious mind changes an opinion on a given matter after it has become embedded in the subconscious the subconscious will not change with it. These factors are important to understand before you begin your work. There are certain “tapes” in your subconscious mind that will not be changed. What you can do is create “new” responses.
NEXT: Stress Reduction: Self Hypnosis

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