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Stress Management for PMS

 Stress Management, Relaxation Training, Meditation, Biofeedback, Psychotherapy

 We set our whole pattern of life by our stress end-point.
If we hit it exactly, we live dynamic, purposeful, useful, happy lives.
If we go over, we break. If we stay too far under, we vegetate.
                                                          Howard A. Rusk

            Excess levels of stress or an inability to adapt and respond to normal levels of stress play enormous havoc with the body’s functioning. Dealing with the stresses in our lives in an optimal way can be one of the most important health enhancement activities in which we can engage. It will not only help with correcting symptoms of PMS but will positively effect all aspects of our health. Our daily life should be filled with achievable challenges that stress our adaptive skills in beneficial ways but do not exert pressures which overtax our ability to recover. Being precisely discriminating in this regard is not easy. 
There is more to life than increasing its speed.
                                                Mahatma Gandhi

            Reducing stresses in our lives is one big step to take. This amounts to setting priorities on how we spend our valuable time. Look at the values that are important to you. Are you spending enough time supporting those values? Or are you dissipating your life energy with activities that are destructive or counter-productive to your life purpose? Make fewer commitments which you have difficulty meeting. Are you spending more time than you should with disagreeable people that agitate your emotional well-being? Are you spending too much time at work or worrying about the job or in a high stress job that is not giving you adequate rewards for the amount of pain it brings into your life?
            Live more simply. Reduce superfluous spending so excessive economic pressures are lessened. Often when we are under stress we tend to buy things in an effort to make ourselves happy. This is usually a short lived happiness and ends up ultimately causing more stress. It diverts our energy into meaningless channels. That time, money, and energy can usually be better spent on the core values of our life. Reduce techno-stress and information overload by moderating the high speed influence which car phones, telephone answering machines, next day mail service, fax machines, call waiting, and call forwarding impose. Cut out those elements of your life that are too stressful.
            This is not an easy process and it is an ever changing, dynamic activity which we must periodically review. Spend more time playing and laughing, more time in nature, more time enjoying family and friends.   

That the birds of worry fly over your head, this you cannot change,
but that they build their nests in your hair, this you can prevent.
                                                              Chinese proverb

  
          Stress management techniques are internal changes to cope better with the negative stresses we can’t change. These are very important methods for dealing with stress. They are ways to make us more whole human beings. Regular daily meditation or programmed relaxation time is one of the most useful tools. There are many relaxation audio tapes that can help. Biofeedback can be used for this purpose with excellent results. One of the more effective tranquility induction techniques that has been used for centuries is just to focus attention on virtually anything---a candle flame, a mantra, a neutral word, a peaceful phrase, or one’s own inhalation and exhalation.  Doing this for 15-30 minutes, twice per day, is enormously rewarding.
            Sometimes we generate stress in our lives by repeating maladaptive, self-destructive thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns which we unconsciously learned from childhood. This presents itself often in conflictual relationships with others---family members, co-workers, or friends. Uncovering these pesky psychodynamic attitudes, beliefs, positions, judgments, preferences, defenses, constrictions, rigidities, wounds, hurts, holes, and reactivities and then relearning new freer ways of being may be the most important health enhancement endeavors one can undertake. When these issues are great and the stresses from them seem overwhelming psychotherapeutic counseling may be needed. There are numerous, highly effective books for psychological self inquiry that can also be used to help in this arena. Books on family dynamics and the inner child by John Bradshaw and Helen Palmer’s books on the Enneagram personality investigations can be quite enlightening. Eugene Gendlin’s book, Focusing, is and excellent self help book to help us get in closer touch with the hidden wounds that entangle us with conflict on a daily basis. Below are listed a sampling of others.
 
 Resources:

Stress Management
*Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn 
The Newsletter of the American Institutes of Stress, from American Institute of Stress, 124 Park Ave., Yonkers, NY 10703; 800-24-RELAX
 
Psychological Self Care
The Family: A Revolutionary Way of Self Discovery by John Bradshaw
Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw
Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child by John Bradshaw
Growing Whole: Exploring the Wilderness Within by Molly Young Brown
Focusing Eugene Gendlin
The Enneagram by Helen Palmer
The Enneagram in Love and Work: Understanding Your Intimate and Business Relationships by Helen Palmer
What We May Be: Techniques for Psychological and Spiritual Growth by Piero Ferrucci
Creating Wholeness: A Self Healing Workbook Using Dynamic Relaxation, Images, and Thoughts by Erik Peper and Catherine Holt

H
omework
            DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF PROPER STRESS MANAGEMENT AND STRESS REDUCTION TO POSITIVELY IMPACT PMS SYMPTOMS OR ONE’S OVERALL HEALTH! 
            If you need convincing on this matter read back issues of the The Newsletter of the American Institutes of Stress. They are available at the website of the
American Institute of Stress . Some people think that others are stressed but not them. If you need convincing that stress plays a role in YOUR life consult with a biofeedback practitioner who can perform a multi-function assessment of your ability to relax and deal with stressful issues. 
            Buy Full Catastrophe Living and begin the simple stress management protocol which Jon Kabat-Zinn advises. Between now and when you get the book, schedule a morning and evening session of 15-30 minutes for yourself just to relax with nothing more to do than count your breaths from 1-10 over and over again. This is a time to set aside so you do not have to think of anything else...just rest the mind. Initially for most, it is a difficult task to disengage the “monkey mind” from drifting off into the future or past with worries or hopes...trying to escape the peace of the present moment with nothing to do, nowhere to go, no pressures on the personality to be a particular way. 
 


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