Nov 10 2014

Stress…..  Why it Matters and What to do About It.

TuningForkOne of my favorite medical doctors is Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum. He has a wonderful app that is available in the Apple Store. He says something that provokes an amazing revelation. It goes something like this:  In France, the culture drinks tons of wine, and eats lots of cheese, and they suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. In Germany, they eat fatty sausage, and drink beer, and they suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. In Italy, they eat pasta, drink wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

The list goes on and on, and then the punch line: “The moral of the story? Eat what you want, apparently speaking English is what kills you”.

Of course it isn’t actually the language, but what is the correlation? I can speak first hand from my experience in Germany. Almost every day, in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, they have coffee and cake. They enjoy chocolate, and drink beer at many of their meals.  So what is the difference? Not accounting for the various food differences, the difference is in the corporate culture and the work mindset. Especially where my wife grew up in the former East Germany, life occurs at a slower pace. Family and friends come first. The time together is cherished, and for something as simple and common as coffee and cake, they bring out the nice dishes.

Restaurants are closed in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. All stores are closed on Sunday. By law, you get a minimum of 2 days of vacation per month in addition to any sick time you need to take. Life just seems to happen at a different pace.

Our corporate mindset is different. In the United States the corporate model strives to keep people in an Alpha state of mind. If you are not familiar with the different states, there is Alpha, Beta, Theta, Delta and Gamma. In fact, our overall corporate culture seems to be designed that people take their work mentality home with them.  When I worked at a bank doing loan processing I often found myself at the dinner table thinking about the loan I needed to work on first thing in the morning.

The question then becomes how do we take a step back from our corporate alpha mentality, and shift it while at the same time reducing the things that put stress on us. The mindset is fine when you want to get something done; however having the same “Get it done” attitude while going through your grocery list keeps your body in a constant state of tension. Here are a few simple things to incorporate into your daily routine that can make a ton of difference.

For one minute each hour, set out a clock with a second hand or counter and watch a minute go by.

This may sound silly, but you will be amazed at how long that minute lasts. The most important thing that this accomplishes is something that we call an interrupt. An interrupt breaks old patterns and when this happens it allows for a change in perception. In this case the change is your perception of time. Seeing how long a minute takes to go by will give the feeling you have more time in your day, and reduce your stress level.

Set a relaxation anchor.

Anchoring is a technique in NLP (Nero Linguistic Programing) in which a person is programmed with a certain response to a stimulus. It is used mainly in sales and marketing but it has healing applications as well. A great example you are probably familiar with the McDonald’s Golden Arch, and/or their jingle “I’m loving it” You see it, you hear it, and instantly it takes you to a state of being which is based on your experience with McDonalds. Another example found in psychology was Pavlov’s dog who was conditioned. Every time the dog was fed, he would ring a bell or strike a tuning fork. The dog would salivate when he was given food. Eventually he could sound the tone, and not feed the dog, but the dog would still salivate. This is yet another example of anchoring.

To do this for yourself you could approach it in several ways. If you meditate start your meditation with a particular breathing exercises. Eventually your body will associate that breathing technique with the practice of meditation. To this day, if I feel stressed all it takes is 3 breaths and I easily slip into a peaceful meditative state.  If you don’t meditate, find anything that relaxes you. Doing a crossword puzzle, soaking in the bath tub, knitting, or anything that can put you in a place of peace. Before you start the activity, always take three deep breaths and then do the activity. Over time, like the other examples, you will be able to take the breaths without doing the activity, and bring yourself back to that relaxed state of being.

Use sound to shift your consciousness.

I saved this one for last because it is the least user-friendly. You can use sound to almost instantly shift your brain waves from one state to the other. Even though you cannot hear it, each brain wave has a hertz frequency which is measured in cycles per second. The idea is that if you could listen to a tone in that range it would cause your brain waves to slip into resonance with the sound waves.

The problem is, the human ears cannot hear anything below about 30 hertz. The way around this is to have 2 different tones with the difference between them equaling the hertz frequency you want to achieve. You then experience what is called binary beats. For example if you have a tuning fork at 250 hertz and another at 253 hertz, your brain will perceive the 3 cycles per second difference and shift into Alpha. A set of good quality tuning forks is pricey for some people, but it is a useful tool especially for a practitioner who wants to put a client into a certain state in a short time period. In addition to tuning forks you can do a Google search for binary beat MP3’s and you’ll find several options to download.

Stress is going to be a part of your life no matter which country you live in, but that does not mean that it has to ruin your life, or change the quality of your experience. With just a few simple techniques you have options to mitigate stress by changing your perception of it, by shifting your perception to a non-stressful time, or even changing your brain waves to a more relaxed state.