Reduce stress by finding a way to let go

Published 01/10/2014

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SPRING, Texas - How do you cope with stress? How do you LEGO? Surprisingly, that’s exactly how some people cope with daily stress...putting LEGO projects together. The sales of Legos have skyrocketed, and they’re not just for kids anymore. Adult hobbyists maintain that in addition to stress management, the process of putting Legos together also helps with problem-solving by stimulating the right side, the creative side, of the brain.

LEGOs, yoga, meditation, and massage therapy offer significant stress reduction benefits.

Some reach for others to help them manage the stress in their lives. Yoga and pilates instructors, personal trainers, and massage therapists, not only help with physical conditioning, but provide mental well-being. Many practitioners maintain that they do so, not only for the physical benefits, but to reduce stress levels. When focusing on the workout, one can’t dwell on life’s stressors, and for those who think they can’t endure the physical exertion, a light workout is better than doing nothing at all.

“If you feel you’re not physically capable of doing yoga, you just do what you can,”said Brooke Duff, yoga instructor at Legends Sports Complex. “Some facets of yoga are very beneficial for reducing stress, like progressive relaxation.”

Progressive muscle relaxation is the tensing and releasing of each specific muscle group in the body. The concept was developed by American physician, Edmund Jacobson, in the early 1920s. Jacobson found the relaxation procedure to be effective for numerous ailments including ulcers, insomnia, hypertension, and stress management.

Early morning and evening yoga sessions are conveniently held to accommodate busy work schedules. The mixed-gender classes also represent a broad cross-section of participants...professional football players, moms, working professionals, and seniors.

“You’re not competing with the others in the class. You just do your personal best,” said Duff. Duff jokingly maintains that some endure the yoga session in order to participate in the relaxation segment at the end of the class.

“The relaxation segment, ‘Shavasna,’ is perhaps the most beneficial part of yoga,” said Duff. “The whole body is relaxed onto the mat for several minutes. It’s intended to rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit.”

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is another mental concept to relax the mind and body, thus reducing stress. According to the Transcendental Meditation movement, the method is used for relaxation, stress reduction, and self-development, by the use of a technique involving a sound or mantra that is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day. The technique is taught at Woodlands Transcendental Meditation at 10210 Grogan’s Mill Road.

For those who seek the solace of massage therapy, the benefits are numerous…

  • Lessens depression and anxiety
  • Ease medication dependence
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body's natural defense system
  • Improving circulation by increasing oxygen and nutrients into tissue and vital organs
  • Increase joint flexibility
  • Exercise and stretch weak or tight muscles, and restore overused muscles

And even provide some lesser known benefits:

  • Improve the condition of the body's largest organ—the skin
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks
  • Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller
  • Relieve migraine pain

But one of the most beneficial effects of massage therapy is stress reduction. Many massage therapists confide that clients not only surrender their physical bodies to massage, but unburden verbally during the session, leaving whatever ails them on the table.

Just taking a few minutes a day to stretch or meditate, can lower stress levels and blood pressure. Harvard Health Publications cites all the techniques contained here within, as beneficial for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and reducing blood sugar, thus slowing the aging process and increasing your energy level. Doing both prolongs life and thwarts illnesses, afterall, there are few things less stressful than being ill. As the new year begins to ramp up, find a way to keep stress from doing likewise. Find a way to ‘let go’.