For some of us the new school year is either up and running or is almost upon us. Getting back into the swing of things can be stressful. There’s more traffic on the road for everyone. One of my client’s shared this past week that she really feels the pressure of getting out of work in time to drive across town, pick up both her children before after school closes. Then it’s getting dinner prepared while going over homework, cleaning up, getting ready for bed and having everything ready to do all over again the next day!  I know she is not alone. How do we keep our brain healthy with so much going on?
You are your brain. Without it, you cease to exist. You can get a new heart, kidneys, Liver, but no new brain! It stores all our memories, it’s who we are!
In Chapter 25 of Dr.A’s Habits of Health , he  covers the Brain, its health, and several ways we can keep it in a state of Optimal health.
One method of Stress Reduction that I found easy to use (page 313) is called “ The Relaxation Response”. Developed by Dr. Herbert Benson at Harvard University, the relaxation response is based on meditation. It takes from spiritual practice just the parts that have to do with Mental Relaxation. Anyone can use this wonderful method to reduce stress and improve brain health.

A Simple Relaxation Meditation

Our goal : Clear your mind of all thoughts (turn off the tape player) that feeds your brain with negative thoughts, and tenses your body.
Step 1: Set aside 10 to 20 minutes a day. Good times are in the morning before breakfast, during your lunch break , or before dinner
Step 2: Find a cozy, quiet, serene place that’s private so you can be alone with your thoughts without interruption. Turn off all electronic communication devices. Silence is the overriding principle
Step 3: Sit up straight on the floor, in a comfortable relaxed position with legs crossed or in a chair, feet flat on the ground. Place your hands together on your lap, right hand resting in left, palms up. Begin taking slow breaths feeling your abdomen  rise.
Step 4: Close your eyes, let tension release. Imagine it seeping out of every pore. Start with your feet and progress to the top of your head.
Step 5: Now let’s shut off the tape player and quiet our brain.  Pick a word or phrase (your mantra) that is calming for you.  Love, Peace, whatever creates a serene state. Slowly repeat the word over and over.  Or focus on your breath and as you breath in say to yourself “I’m breathing in”, as you breath out think “ I’m breathing out”.  Just keep doing this over and over. Words and thoughts will start to form, they are distractions. When they do, let them go and return to your word or breath. This is how your brain releases stress.
Step 6: Once you have done your 10 to 20 minutes and reached a relaxed state, sit for another minute or two. As you return to your normal state, merge the calmness of the meditative state and take one last deep inhalation. Hold your breath for about 15 seconds, exhales, and relax.
Congratulations! You just created a new state of composure and control.
*Informational material was taken from Chapter 25 of The Habits of Health by Dr,Wayne Scott Andersen
By Marsha Hildebrand, RN

Stress Reduction – The Relaxation Response

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