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Alternative Health Blog

How You Respond to Stress Can Make All the Difference

Back in the mid-1970s, Dr. Herbert Benson was way ahead of the curve about how stress can adversely affect our health. It wasn’t just that Benson was identifying how stress disrupts daily function, it was that the Harvard physician recognized that stress is part of life—and how we respond to stress is what makes all the difference.

Benson wrote a bestselling book, “The Relaxation Response,” to explain his findings and what to do about stress. He figured out that controlling stress is all about managing your reactions. And managing reactions is more about habit than perfection. We all lose our composure at times—and even stress out about that too.

As it turns out, thanks to an informative story by writer Linda Matchan in the Boston Glove, Alternative Health Blog can report that Benson is still going strong on teaching stress management techniques. That he hasn’t retired or burned out or both tells you something. Loving our work can change how we manage stress. Appreciating that stress can be positive is another step in the healthy direction, such as the research showing that getting married or being promoted at work can be high-stress life events.

Remember that how we respond to stress can make our day better or worse in an instant. So how we respond to those numerous stress points throughout a day or week can make our lives better or worse over time. There is always a chance to put stress in its place: As part of life rather than what defines it.

Benson pioneered his Relaxation Response as a method for “minimizing” the adverse effect of stress. He recommends the following steps as a daily practice. He even suggests you follow the routine twice a day. But here at the Alternative Health Blog, we say don’t stress it too much if you can follow his steps most days of the week:

1. Pick a focus word, short phrase, or prayer rooted in your belief system.

2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

3. Close your eyes.

4. Relax your muscles.

5. Breathe slowly. Say the focus word as you exhale.

6. Assume a passive attitude. When other thoughts intrude, just say, "Oh, well," and return to your repetition.

7. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.

8. Open your eyes and sit for another minute.

9. Practice once or twice daily.

Bob Condor blogs for Alternative Health Journal every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

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Contributor Profile

Contributor Since:
August 13, 2008
Bob Condor
Along with bringing the latest news and trends about alternative health, Bob will help you get the most of your Internet health research.  Bob is the Living Well Columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.He covers health and quality of life for the Hearst-owned newspaper and writes regularly for national magazines. He is a former syn...
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