Stress, Mini-Vacations and Moms

The first key to remember is stress is not the problem; it’s our reaction to the stress. We cannot control the traffic, the government or the neighbor’s loud music, but we can control our reactions to those things. It’s estimated we think about 60,000 thoughts a day and 50,000 of those are negative. It’s very difficult to stop thinking things, especially if we’ve run those negative scripts our entire lives. It is easier to replace those thoughts. I recommend using affirmations. So rather than thinking, “I just don’t have enough time to get everything done.” Think, “my day flows with ease and grace” Or “I have plenty of time to get things done.” This does not give you more hours in the day, but it does stop the stress response, which has a negative impact on our health, depletes our immune system and inhibits our cognitive brain functioning stress.

Another tool I recommend for anyone having stress is a mini meditation. Many people cannot meditate. I’m one of them. I like using mini meditations because these can be done anywhere at any time. It simply consists of you concentrating on your breath, the rise and fall of your chest. Once you focused on that, on every inhale think “I am” and repeat. Then on every exhale think “at peace”. And just keep repeating that over and over again. So, you’re concentrating on the breath and thinking, “I am… at peace.” This is a simple way to ground and focus yourself, bring yourself back into the present moment and stop that stress response. Studies show that people who are long-term meditators have lower blood pressure, slower heart and respiratory rates, higher cognitive functioning and can even slow down the genetic effects of aging. This is a simple tool to combat that stress response.

Another thing that is incredibly useful for stress is mindfulness. This has been deemed the year of mindfulness and when we are mindful we’re in the present moment. Stress exists in the past in dwelling on something that happened before, or in the future, worrying about something that has not yet or might not even happen. Mindfulness keeps us in the present where there is no stress. Mindfulness is simply going about something with focus and curiosity. If you don’t have time to set aside for a formal meditation try doing a task of your day mindfully. There are things around the house and in our environment we must tend to daily, like brushing our teeth, doing the dishes or taking a shower. Do those things with complete focus, concentration and curiosity. Really feel the hot water on your hands, the texture of the dish. What do the bubble smell like from the lemon-scented soap? Are there little rainbows in the bubbles? Getting completely focused on your tasks brings you into the present moment and keeps the past and the future from harassing you, thus decreasing stress.

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Kathy Gruver is an award-winning author and the host of the national TV show based on her first book, The Alternative Medicine Kathy GruverCabinet (winner Beverly Hills Book Awards). She has earned her PhD in Natural Health and has authored two books on stress: Body/Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker and, just published, Conquer Your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques (Winner Beverly Hills Book Awards, Finalist for the USA Best Books Award). She has studied mind/body medicine at the famed Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School and pursued further education at The National Institutes of Health. Gruver has been featured as an expert in numerous publications including Glamour, CNN, WebMD, Prevention, Men’s Health, Huffington Post,, Ladies Home Journal, Massage and Bodyworks Magazine, and Massage Magazine. She has written dozens of health and wellness articles and contributing posts. Dr. Gruver has appeared as a guest expert on over 200 radio and TV shows including NPR, SkyNews London, CBS Radio, and Lifetime Television, and has done over 100 educational lectures around the country. For fun and stress relief Dr. Gruver does flying trapeze and hip hop dance.