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Longterm Stress Reduction

99.5% of people who have seen a doctor about migraines or headaches have been told to reduce stress. I made up that statistic, but I bet it’s not far off.

Google “ways to reduce stress” and you’ll get nearly 3 million hits. Most recommendations are mildly effective band-aids. Changing how you react in the moment or trying to slow yourself down when you’re already worked up are vital skills, but living a calmer life overall is the only true solution.

Zenhabits takes this approach in 12 Ideas for Establishing a Calming Routine. The recommended daily rituals go a long way toward longterm stress reduction. Among the 12 recommendations include:

  • Enjoy a quiet cup of tea or coffee each morning. I sit at the kitchen table and look at our ugly patio. Normally the current state of the patio distresses me, but in the mornings I simply enjoy the sun streaming through the windows.
  • Devote a few minutes to think about what and who you are grateful for. A bipolar chronic headache sufferer mentioned in a forum that she does this. The small ritual has made her happier and keeps her from being bogged down by anger and self-pity over her illnesses.
  • Have a real, honest conversation with a loved one.

I’m taking bite-size pieces of Zenhabits’ suggestions to see if calm down my life. I’ve quieted my frazzled self a lot in the last two years, but there’s always room to relax more.

Do you have any soothing rituals?

7 Responses to Longterm Stress Reduction

  1. Amanda Marlaena says:

    My defining characteristic is stress. I wish it weren’t, but the feedback I receive most often – from myself as well as others – is that I need to slow down, calm down, pipe down, or otherwise do things in a downward direction. I’m just really wound up. Massage therapists are always concerned about the chronically tight neck and back problems I present, to the point where I am at weekly massages now … and they feel like an absolute necessity, not a luxury. Yet, I never get headaches. Ever.

    So if I could put in my two cents, maybe it’s a question of how our bodies manifest our stress. I have more of it than the average person, yet the average person gets headaches on occasion, whereas I never do. But the average person doesn’t cause massage therapists to cringe at the state of her rock-hard (in a bad way) muscles … and I do.

    I write to relax. I light candles and prop myself up with pillows, as I put pen to paper in my journal or clack away at my laptop. It is my favorite unwinding activity. I also love the massages, and I love baths. Reading is wonderful for me, too. And I absolutely relate to the gratitude suggestion; it substantially decreases my stress and increases my happiness.

    AM

  2. Christy says:

    Does stress cause migraines? When I began practicing yoga, I discovered that it helped my “little” headaches, but my migraines remained constant. I am all for de-stressing, however, since it makes the periods between migraines so much more pleasant.

    My soothing rituals: walk an hour a day, read the comics with my breakfast, and repeat (what I at first thought was a pretty hokey) mantra my yoga teacher taught–“Breathing in, I relax my body; breathing out, I smile.”

  3. Laurie says:

    I always, always start my day with a cup of coffee (now with vanilla soy milk!) and the newspaper. Whether I’ve slept well or not, been up all night coughing or not, this routine gives me a chance to focus on a new day and start clear-headed. It’s a chance to re-group before the daily grind sucks me in, and it’s a routine that really works for me.

  4. Kate says:

    I have to tell you. Its hard to reduce my stress with articles like this – http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/584828/Health?c_id=wom=kg-jlt – Greater risks for a stroke with a migraine. not comforting – kate from thenewsroom.com’s womens health desk

  5. Shruti says:

    15 minutes of pranayam(breathing technique in yoga) in the morning. It gives me a surreal feeling of getting energised and calm at the same time. Stupidly enough I allowed two weeks of travel to upset this routine and as a direct consequence I have spent the last two days (after a gap of 2 months) suffering from a TERRIBLE migraine that left me crying and lashing out at my poor husband for no fault of his.

  6. Shruti says:

    15 minutes of pranayam(breathing technique in yoga) in the morning. It gives me a surreal feeling of getting energised and calm at the same time. Stupidly enough I allowed two weeks of travel to upset this routine and as a direct consequence I have spent the last two days (after a gap of 2 months) suffering from a TERRIBLE migraine that left me crying and lashing out at my poor husband for no fault of his.

  7. Kerrie says:

    Thanks for sharing your excellent suggestions. I’ll certainly benefit from them and lots of readers will too.

    On stress causing migraines: Stress doesn’t *cause* migraine, but it can trigger individual migraine episodes. Migraine is caused by a neurological disorder — stress, foods, weather, lack of sleep, etc. only trigger a preexisting neurological condition.

    Kerrie

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