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What is Stress?

What is Stress? Stress often arises in the body for many different reasons and it’s often apparent in modern living. The brain reacts to stress by releasing the stress hormone known as “cortisol”, which activates the fight or flight response. Cortisol is an essential component of all living beings and it has become a crucial element of the existence of human life. It decides what the body should do during a moment of intense fear or anxiety, completely unaware of the environment around us.
For example, sitting in traffic before an important meeting may cause a great deal of stress in the modern era. It may trigger a racing heartbeat, rapid and shallow breathing, and an increase in blood pressure. Although there is no imminent danger surrounding the situation, cortisol reacts to the tension accrued within the body as it prepares itself for any possible outcome.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation focuses on tensing a group of muscles for a few seconds and releasing them with the breath, one group at a time. For example, use the hands to create fists. Inhale through the nose for five seconds and release the fists while exhaling through the mouth for another five. On the exhale, focus on the change in the tension of the fists. The intent is to feel stress flowing out of the body and alleviating the tightness of the muscles.

With practice, Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a great form of stress management and can be done in any environment, such as sitting in traffic. It only takes ten minutes a day to actively learn this effective tool and with time, stress can be dealt with before it takes a heavy toll on the body.

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