There are thousands of articles out there on stress reduction that mention the many ways we can manage/reduce/eliminate the stresses in our lives. They provide great value and help many people. Unfortunately, what we don’t see enough of are articles focused on the most important part of dealing with stress — the part that works for you specifically. Because honestly, that’s the only thing that matters. What works for you? 100 ways that help others are useless unless 1 of them reduces your stress. Thus, in line with that thinking I asked some of the experts involved in my Stress Reduction course a simple question — “What personally works for you and how can people find what works for them?”
Dr. Kathy Gruver, the author of Conquer Your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques says “I hear so many people say that they should be doing yoga. Why? Because you saw on TV that it was good? Because your aunt does it? Because your girlfriend does it? Not everyone should be doing yoga! I don’t find it to relaxing and it irritates my back. We have to find what works for us. This is why I dance and do flying trapeze. It’s what makes me happy and what relieves my stress. Customization is key. Because when you find the passion for it that’s when you’ll make the time for it.”
It’s funny that Kathy mentions yoga. I have interviewed many who swear by it and like you have seen miraculous FB videos of people who change their lives because of it. Yet my own expectations of what I want to get from yoga are in direct opposition from what I encounter when I take a class. I want yoga that is one pose at a time with deep understanding of the energetic reasoning of it, meditation with mudras during it, etc. etc. etc. What I get is a room heated up to 117 degrees with quick progressions from pose to pose with participants who seem to know what they are doing. Thus that experience actually gives me stress.
Amanda Hinman, co-founder of Hinman Holistic Health Institute has a different approach to stress relief. “I love massages! Especially ones from Mike (my husband) but will not hesitate to schedule a professional one either. Being a very kinesthetic person this resonates with me.” My wife would likely agree with that although it really depends on the type of massage because she mostly goes for deep tissue and I keep hearing about how painful it is afterwards.
My favorite stress relief method is watching musicals. When I feel down and drained, I go home, turn on Singing In The Rain and soon after find myself dancing again. Thus to each his/her own and that is the point. The only remaining question is how to find it. Here are some suggestions from our experts on how you can find what works for you.
“I think the biggest help to discover what works for each individual is to become curious. Ask yourself many open ended questions. What do I enjoy? What was I doing last time I felt totally relaxed? Where was I? Who was I with, etc. I believe we all have the answers within and by applying curiosity we can tune in mentally to what our bodies already know,” suggests Amanda.
“It’s definitely an experiment. Finding out what other people do and then trying it is a good method. Also remembering what brought you joy as a kid. Dance was always my thing but I never considered doing it as an adult. Now I dance three or four days a week. And trapeze… That was just an experiment. But it stuck for sure,” advises Kathy.
Which goes to show you that stress management like life is an all-you-can-eat buffet made complicated by its many choices. Everyone will have their favourites, fill up their plate, salivate and do their best to convince you to try it. But just like there is no accounting for taste, there is no accounting for the right way to tackle stress. It is all up to you. Do your research, look at the myriad of ways out there and find just the perfect ones for you. And while the process itself may add more stress the outcome will be well worth the effort.
By Allen Vaysberg, as published in The Huffington Post on 13th July 2015