I deliberately say “manage stress” not “eliminate stress” because unless you want to withdraw from the mainstream e.g. the dream of “meditating on a mountain top” , it’s unrealistic to say “stress begone” and expect the world to take notice.
Step 1. Acknowledge that you may in fact be stressed.
There’s nothing wrong with being stressed, it’s not a failing or a weakness, it’s just a mental or physiological reaction to being placed in testing conditions.
Unfortunately a few million years of evolution in caves and the jungle wasn’t sufficient to prepare you for events such as the sub-prime credit crunch, a**holes at work, or a 30 mile freeway crawl in the rush hour.
n.b. a good test to find out if you’re stressed is to ask a close friend/spouse/partner this question”Do you think I’m stressed?” (Their answer may entertain/shock/surprise you!)
Step 2. Take action to reduce your stress
Here are a few suggestions:
(a) Physical exercise: especially outdoors in the fresh air.
A simple, 30 minute walk is a winner on every front. Anything that gets you sweaty is recommended – see also (g).
Remember the Better Back System is a complete system with a set of special exercises to help strengthen your back and stop sciatica that you can use at home.
Meditation comes in many different flavors and forms. Many of them are beneficial, a few of dubious value.
Some are free and effective e.g. Vipassana (www.dhamma.org).
Some are not free and effective e.g. Holosync (www.centerpointe.com) which has a free demo.
You can find links to free, audio meditation tracks here: learningmeditation.com/music.htm
Yoga has many devoted practitioners and just like meditation it comes in many forms. Most people find it gives them both physical and mental benefits.
Here’s a video of the yoga Salute to the Sun
Quite often you can find a local community yoga class you go to for a few dollars to see if you like it.
(d) Get A Punching bag
Yes this is form of exercise, but it deserves its own special category.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – beating the c**p out of a punching bag for 15 to 30 minutes is both an enormous reliever of stress and anger and a highly aerobic exercise (if you keep punching more or less continuously).
You can even stick a picture of your boss, spouse, mother-in-law, or who/whatever you feel is the major source of your stress onto the bag to add spice to the proceedings.
(e) Eat good food
Yep, bad food not only has low or no nutritional value, it messes you up mentally and physically.
Note: Go to the next item if you want a laugh instead of a sermon about the rotten food you’re probably eating.
- fatty / fried fast foods
- most processed foods
- foods with long list of chemicals in the ingredients list (ever found E260 in a field?)
- fast home microwave meals
- food that’s been stored for ages (e.g. out of local season fruit and vegetables),
- food that’s been factory farmed and/or factory fattened (e.g. most American meat products).
In fact let’s be straight here – much of what the average American eats is junk, or badly compromised.
Sad but true.
Basically your body has to spend heaps of energy and effort trying to detoxify itself from this junk, rather than the much easier process of extracting what it needs from simple natural foods.
It leaves you with less energy and a low level feeling of “not rightness” and prone to various physiological side effects, including back pain.
Top this up with a cocktail of prescription drugs and you really do have a recipe for trouble.
If you want to test this out, go on a “detox diet” of mostly fresh fruit and vegetables for a couple of weeks (ideally organic produce and no meat) and see what happens. The effect is similar to a junkie coming off their habit.
You’ll typically feel worse before you feel better , as your body starts to detox itself properly, but once you get through that phase the improvement is likely amaze you.
(f) Laugh out loud, often
Laughter is just the best stress relief.
Find something that makes you laugh so hard you almost wet yourself.
Try this video for example:
(g) Have Sex
Preferably with somebody other than yourself and longer than 5 minutes to get the full benefit! 😉
Stress Relief Summary
So jokes aside, it’s always worth emphasizing that your overall health is going to affect your back.
If you’re stressed and have back pain, treating chronic lower back pain in isolation without also doing something to reduce your stress may have you going round in circles.
I’m speaking from experience here. In my times of greatest stress, I’d go to see the chiropractor to get my back “put back in” and sometimes just a few hours later it would go “out” again – for no particular reason.
It took me quite a while to work out that stress = back out.