Calm Me Maybe

A blog dedicated to the eternal pursuit of happiness through all-natural methods of rest and relaxation

Repetitive motions to de-stress and calm

Everyone has their own way of dealing with life, love, and loss, but certain activities can help to relax the body and rid the mind of anxious thoughts.

Repetitive motions, like those used to knit or make jewelry, can soothe anxiety.  Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, recommends the repetition of a word, sound, phrase, muscular activity to elicit your body’s relaxation response. This reaction allows a lower heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.

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Sarah (right) making jewelry with roommate Angela.

Sarah Ford, a 20-year-old student at St. Bonaventure University, began making jewelry as a hobby. She quickly found the calming properties that her interest could provide.

“Jewelry making quickly changed from a hobby to a time to clear my head and relax,” she said. “The creative process of designing patterns helps me to clear my head and focus on something easy and repetitive.”image 2

Repeating movements also allows the brain to focus on returning to that movement rather than revisiting intruding or destructive emotions.

Michele Ross, a part-time employee at a community college and full-time mother and wife, crochets to destress between working and taking care of her three-year-old daughter.

“I usually try and work on something to wind down for the night and usually go to bed afterwards,” she said.

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Michele Ross works on her crochet projects through out her busy day for stress relief.

Some experts believe that activities with repetitive motions can have the same effects on the brain as meditation.

According to Patricia Monaghan and Eleanor Viereck, authors of Meditation – The Complete Guide, “any activity that demands focus and involves some degree of repetitive activity lowers brain-wave frequency and therefore produces the effects of meditation.”

Focusing on a hobby that involves repetitive movements can steer the mind away from those less-than-desirable thoughts.  Finishing a project will replace unwanted feelings with feelings of triumph and success.

“My personal favorite part of the experience is not just the designing, but the feelings of accomplishment when I can see my feelings and ideas in my finished work,” Ford said. “It can turn any feelings into a piece of art.”

Hannah Gordon, a freshman at SBU, uses her instruments to illicit a calming sensation during times of increased stress.

“Depending on the type of stress I’m feeling I reach for my guitar, drum pad or keyboard,” she said. If I’m playing on my drum pad, I practice my rudiments, which allows my mind to just go numb for a while because most of the effort is just muscle memory.”

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Hannah playing her acoustic guitar outside her dorm room.

Gordon said playing and listening to a repetitive rhythm helps her anger or anxiety to subside, allowing her to think clearly.

“If I’m upset about something, I go for my acoustic guitar. I play rhythms with G, Em, D, and Am chords,” she said. “I usually sit on my bed, close my eyes and play it over and over again, completely tuning out the world around me.”

The soothing sounds of music combined with your own creativity provides a healthy outlet for your emotions.

“When I was really young—before I played any instruments—I wrote poetry and lyrics to express myself and relax,” Gordon said. “Ever since I started playing music, I write more poetry, but I have always gone to an instrument to de-stress and calm down.”

Our bodies have the ability to calm itself down physically and emotionally. Substitute self-medication with healthy self-expression.

 

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“Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”

– “Christian D. Larson, “Your Forces and How to Use Them”

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Loving yourself daily: Accentuate the positive

80% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance.

42% of first-to-third grade girls want to lose weight. 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of becoming fat.

These numbers are staggering. Surrounded by slender celebrities and the world’s glamorized idea of beauty, it’s not surprising that many women and even young girls equate happiness with being thin.

Truly, the only way to sincere happiness begins with love for yourself and your flaws. Regardless of your size, you are human being who deserves just as much bliss in this life as the next person. Stop dwelling. Accentuate the positives.

What’s your best feature? Best attribute? What have you accomplished? Love what you’ve been given, and be proud of what you’ve worked for.

Photo credit: Tumblr

Photo credit: Tumblr

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Water’s effect on the body and mind

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Over 60 percent of the human body is composed of water.  We’re told to get our “eight glasses a day” but up to 75 percent of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration.

Drinking more water everyday will not only keep you healthy, but it can help improve your mood.

Dehydration takes a toll on the body.  Even mild dehydration can effect cognition, concentration, and the ability to control your mood. 

Drinking water will boost your energy, helping you to feel more focused and alert. Staying hydrated will prevent feelings of fatigue, which may help reduce anxiety or stress. Water is also necessary for the body to digest and absorb vitamins, while detoxifying the liver and ridding itself of toxins.

Carry a water bottle daily to remind you to keep drinking, and your body will thank you.

In with the good, out with the bad. A healthy body will allow for a happy mind.

 

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Laughter: Your body’s all-natural medicine

Have you ever noticed how good you feel after throwing your head back and letting out your best, genuine chuckle?

Laughing is good for you!

Laughter exercises and relaxes muscles, improves respiration, stimulates circulation, increases the production of pain-killing endorphins, decreases the production of stress-related hormones, enhances immunity and induces a positive, emotional state.

If you’re having a bad day, take a minute to understand the irony of a situation and laugh about it. Allowing yourself a giggle will decrease the amount of cortisol that your body produces because of stress, which will lower your blood sugar and heart rate.  A laugh or two can also cause the body’s production of endorphins, an all-natural pain reliever.

Find a reason to laugh every day, and reap the benefits that this all-natural gift can do for your mind, body and soul.

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Happiness in a hug

Photo credit: kittehkats.tumblr.com

Photo credit: kittehkats.tumblr.com

Panicked? A drug-free anti-anxiety medicine is right at your disposal. 

Aristotle said “Man is by natural a social animal,” and he’s right.  Human beings desire a certain sense of connection and community with others. 

Joining someone in a mutual embrace releases oxytocin, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland.  Once in the blood stream, oxytocin lowers our heart rate, blood pressure and reduces stress and anxiety.

A hug can nurture a human relationship, creating trust and a sense of calm between its participants. 

Give more hugs.  Give happiness.

Photo credit: yesaskmerelationships.tumblr.com

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“I still believe in summer days,
The seasons always change,
and life will find a way.”

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