Using Tai Chi to Undo Unusual Stress


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We all experience stress from time to time.  But, did you know that stress is contagious?  Just watching someone else in a stressful situation will increase your level of stress hormones too!  I found some interesting, and unusual, triggers for stress.  For example, your expectations of a situation and your ability to manage stress.  So, if a situation does not go as planned and you really become stressed about it, it is made worse by your inability to manage your own stress!  Knowing your triggers, being prepared and having a plan B all help here!  Trying to multi-task your way out of it won’t help either. The more you try to take on, the more your brain is whizzing around and you don’t actually achieve anything – making you more stressed!


Happy events are stressful too

Even ‘good’ or ‘happy’ events can leave us feeling stressed, exhausted and frazzled.  Watching your favourite team compete has long been known to up the stress levels.  If they lose, this can affect your immune system in a negative way too. 

 Christmas is always a flash point for stress.  Lots of people crammed into the same small space for a few hours, throw in some alcohol and there is bound to be a row about something which happened decades ago.

Having people around to your home will also raise your stress levels too, even when you like them.  This is an invasion of your inner sanctum and refuge from the world.  Having others ‘invade’ this space can make you feel a little jumpy. 


You can detach yourself from the stress

This does take a bit of practise, but not too much.  When you are in a stressful situation ask yourself a few simple questions to help gain perspective

1)       Is anyone in danger or dying or loosing limb or serious injury? 

2)      Is this your job to sort out?

3)      Will you remember this next month?  Is it that important that you need to worry about it?

4)      Can it wait?  Often delaying doing something stressful allows your subconscious to sort out the problem for you, saving you from the worry if it right now.

5)      Is there somewhere you can go, for just a moment, to be quiet and alone?  If not physically, then in your own imagination.  Try to find something to stare at or focus, really look at the intricate details.  This will absorb your brain and again, let your subconscious start to work out the answer for you.


Sleep on it

Two things here, if you don’t sleep well you will be more prone to stress as your brain stops working!  You will experience stress more often and at a deeper, more intense level.  It is so important that you get a good sleep routine going, go to bed at the same time and set the alarm for the same time every day.  This will help your own inner clock to regulate itself. 

Cut down on the caffeine and alcohol, go for a brisk walk a couple of times a week, or just up your level of exercise a little.  Try to avoid using screen an hour before going to bed.  We have written about this is some of our previous blogs, so if you need more help just scroll back.


If you have a problem and the answer is not obvious, sleep on it.  This will allow your subconscious to work out a solution for you.  during the first few sleep cycles your brain can be pessimistic in its problem-solving solutions, but as you have more sleep cycles and your subconscious replays the scenario a few times, the brain become more optimistic.  The really great thing is that you won’t even know this is going on until, maybe, the last sleep cycle when you are more likely to remember your dreams.  Even if you don’t, the answer will come to you at some point during the next day or two.    


Stop your mind stressing

If the questions above work for you, but you also need something a little more robust, then try Tai Chi (meditation in motion) or Mindfulness meditation.  Both have been found to help with problem solving, lowering overall stress levels, helping with sleep problems, reduce negative emotions, increase self-awareness and allowing you to develop a sense of detachment from stressful people and situations. 

They also have the side effect of making you more flexibly, increasing your muscle tone and balance and boosting circulation and concentration and memory. 


If you respond to stress by: becoming depressed or withdrawn
Try: A stimulating relaxation technique like rhythmic exercise e.g. the 7 Chi Circulation Exercises we teach in our classes and on DVD.


If you respond to stress by: becoming agitated
Try: A calming relaxation technique such as Qi Gong deep breathing again taught in our classes.


If you respond to stress by: Freezing up externally while speeding up internally
Try: A reboot relaxation technique like power yoga or the Tai Chi Form


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