Three ways to make a ‘profound’ difference in your stress level

My doctor said that I have to either learn to deal with the stress in my life or my health will continue to get worse...

I just got diagnosed with high blood pressure. My doctor said that I either have to learn to deal with the stress in my life or my health will continue to get worse. It was a pretty scary outlook she gave me. She was talking heart attack and stroke.

I don’t know what to do. I can’t change my family situation: sick parents, kids. There are lots of stresses there. There are bills to pay. I need to work.

It has felt like I’ve been running on empty for a while, but this is the first time that my health has been affected. I’m scared. I don’t want to die, but I don’t see any way out of the situation I’m in. How can I deal with stress?

There are all kinds of things in life that we have absolutely no control over. There are also lots of things that we do have control over. How we deal with the things that we don’t have control over, is one of those things.

Your blood pressure is letting you know that coping as you have been is no longer enough. It is time to do something differently. Running on empty is leading to some serious health implications.

Often when a person gets the news that you have, when options to make things better are given, stress tries to convince them that they can’t do the things suggested. So, knowing that, maybe read the rest of this and ask yourself which would be your next best step in the right direction of reducing stress.

Here are three things that can make a profound, (yes, I do mean profound) difference in your stress level.

1. Biofeedback

This is a helpful option for people who what to do things from home, or are on the go, maybe waiting to pick up kids from their activity, for example, and have access to a laptop computer.

Biofeedback just means that you get information about what your body is doing, and based on that information, you learn to actually change how it is functioning.

The home computer programs for this use sensors that you put on your fingers to find out what your stress level is. This information is then transferred to your computer screen in the form of graphics. It teaches you how to change your stress level.

2. The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program

This is an eight-week program in intensive training in mindfulness meditation. Now, before you say that you can’t “clear your mind” to meditate and reject this option, it is important to know that if you could “clear your mind,” you wouldn’t need the skills taught in this program!

The program is not about clearing your mind. It is about how to use your mind and body to reduce stress by actually noticing what is going on in your mind. Very different.

3. It is no secret that exercise can make a profound difference in a person’s life.

It’s also no secret that most people find getting into an exercise pattern hard. Google motivation and exercise for lots of info about how to get going on that.

Note that Adult Mental Health and Wellness is offering free information sessions in March on mindfulness, and stress and anxiety. Call them for more information at 250 331-8524. Maybe getting more information from these sessions will be the next step in the right direction for you.

If you continue to feel immobilized by stress, it may be helpful to consult a registered clinical counsellor to help you get things moving.

FYI: Pacific Therapy & Consulting has biofeedback programs, and offers the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program.

If you would like to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at askpacific@shaw.ca. Consult a Counsellor is provided by the registered clinical counsellors at Pacific Therapy & Consulting: Nancy Bock, Diane Davies, Leslie Wells and Andrew Lochhead. It appears every second Friday.

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