Updated: Nov 30, 2022
A Balanced Life: "On Balance"
(Weekly Blog by Don S. Hunter, 2022)
Reducing the Impact of Stress and Anxiety
When I think about a balanced life, I am connecting with what’s happening throughout my body, within my mind, and into my spirit. The balance that we all seek has an enormous impact on what we choose to eat, how we choose to interact with others and how we choose to engage with ourselves (whether not at all, meditating, exercise, etc.).
There is no doubt that we (everyone in the world basically) are experiencing levels of stress and anxiety, the likes of which have not been experienced before. Certainly, the anxiety and panic felt during the great depression and in the lead up to world wars, was invasive but the past ten years has added a number of additional layers of stress and anxiety. The rapid increase in the negative impact of global warming and the astounding numbers of those who continue to deny it; the worldwide pandemic that terrified the world and took the lives of millions; the wars that continue to rage on in many parts of this world; and the legitimate fears for the future of our lives and our planet. Our children are dealing with unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal behaviour, hope for their future so hard to hold onto. How do we as adults and parents in today’s world, model for our children and youth, how to engage, work through these often, debilitating emotions, develop that balance we all seek, and hold onto hope? When the amount of time our young people (as well as adults) spend on their devices amounts to far more than their in-person interactions – particularly within families – relationships suffer! And, perhaps most importantly, our relationship with ourselves suffers!
Everyone seems to always be looking for quick fixes – faster internet speed, faster decision-making, and some way to feel better, faster. There are medications available to try and treat anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. There are energy drinks to pump you up, applications on your phone to try and help relax and calm you (CALM, Head Space), white noise machines, and potions to try and help you sleep better. Now there are new devices to try and help with the rapidly, rising stress and anxiety levels – there are hand held massagers ($150-$700), the Oura ring that tracks all vital signs and has a phone app ($400 plus $7 a month), microcurrent anxiety pressure relief ($35), cranial electrotherapy stimulation ($130), the Apollo Wearable ($350), a variety of weighted blankets, ($50-$350), acupressure mats ($30-$70), among many other items! The reviews and research on these offers, mixed results – all feedback from self-reports. As I understand it, the goal of all such devices includes reducing stress, anxiety, and achieving a deep and restful sleep.
From my experience, all these hoped for results are available to everyone – free of charge!
Through a daily, ten to thirty minute practice of diaphragmatic breathing and meditation – practiced routinely – one can achieve a significant reduction in stress and anxiety, reduced heart rate and blood pressure, a decrease in cortisol levels (the stress hormone), improved sleep and a general feeling of well-being. Try this routine practice for a couple of weeks and see how you feel – the cost - only 30 minutes every day!