Juliette Kando is a dancer, choreologist, author on fitness and health, and Fellow of the Benesh Institute at the Royal Academy of Dance.
Mental problems often arise when the mind creates negative and destructive thought patterns to justify chronic discomfort in the body. In many cases the body is so used to chronic discomfort often caused by poor posture, bad nutrition, etc., it no longer notices the pain and translates it into mental problems. Stuck in this chicken and egg situation, treating stress and curing depression without drugs seems impossible. Yet, there is hope at the end of the tunnel.
Firstly this article guides you through an informative quiz to identify your particular stress symptoms. The quiz comes in two parts: physical and mental.
Secondly, the following 10 stress management techniques will help overcome any hurdles coming your way.
- Lying Supine on the Floor (on your back)
- Simple Relaxation to Music Technique
- Principles Behind Meditation
- Breathing and Smiling Exercise
- How to Deal With Stress From Abuse
- Personal Stress and depression Management Techniques
- Exercise and Nutrition Tips for a Stress-Free Life
- Humor and Fun-Related Social Stress and Depression Management Techniques
- Ultimate Stress Management: Gravity Inversion
- The Science of Laughter
Physical Stress Symptoms Quiz
Now, get a pencil and paper and write down all the numbers below that apply to your good self:
- I suffer from digestive problems like heart-burn.
- I burp a lot during and after meals.
- I am constipated, can’t go for a number two sometimes for days on end.
- I often have diarrhea.
- I quickly get the butterflies with a rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure.
- I often find myself scared s**tless, breathing rapidly with short, shallow breaths.
- I hunch up like a vulture, get a stiff neck and/or tight shoulders.
- Most days my back is killing me.
- Almost every day I get splitting headaches.
- I suffer from regular bouts of real, heavy-duty migraines.
- I frequently get sweaty palms.
- I cannot stop biting my nails.
- I don’t have enough good sex.
- I am always tired and lazy.
Good, but you are not done yet! Those were only your physical stress symptoms. Now, please continue the quiz by identifying some of the mental stress symptoms you may have.
Mental Stress Symptoms Quiz
15. I relish in making up non-existing, worst case scenarios, the “what if” syndrome.
16. I constantly worry about minor issues that are not really important.
17. I find it difficult to speak my mind, I bite my tongue and repress what I think and feel.
18. I tend to say what I think others want to hear, just so they will like me better.
19. I get into weird mood swing, irritability, bursts of anger or sadness.
20. I am afraid of new challenges, do not think I am capable of success. I feel a useless git.
21. I find myself unable to focus on tasks and challenges.
22. I often feel guilty, always thinking I should not be doing what I am doing but something else.
23. I do not have any confidence because I think I will fail anyway.
24. I feel stuck in a rut, things will never change.
25. I am terrified of spending time by myself.
26. I do not feel that people love me. I’m not a likable person.
27. I do not like what I see in the mirror. I am fat and ugly.
28. I find it hard to forgive.
What Were Your Results?
How Did You Do in the Stress and Depression Quiz?
Measure your stress levels by the number of boxes you have ticked in the above quiz. Taking pills or drugs may reduce stress levels for now, but think of the side effects and possible addiction. The pharmaceutical industry strives on the sale of addictive drugs. A better solution is to get rid of certain lifestyle habits that have caused the stress symptoms in the first place. Failing this, the list of symptoms will grow and grow until they may lead to a nervous breakdown or manic depression.
Oh dear, better look at those precious 7 stress management techniques before it is too late! The first thing to learn is very simple. Put on some soothing music and learn to relax on the floor, not on a bed as a soft mattress does not really allow the skeleton to fully let go into gravity. In fact many of us feel uncomfortable or are unable to lie down on the floor.
1. Lying Supine on the Floor (on your back)
Practice lying on the floor using props if necessary as shown in the chart below.
2. Simple Relaxation to Music Technique
- Lie down on the floor on your back, not on the bed, and get comfortable as shown in the above picture.
- Close your eyes, breathe to the rhythm of the soft, slow music, and feel your body sink deeper into the floor on each exhalation. Gravity helps every part of your body to relax.
- Take your time. Start at the feet and slowly work your way up the body to the top of your head.
Once you master this simple relaxation to music technique on the floor, you are well on your way to exploring the wonderful world of meditation.
3. Principles Behind Meditation
Like you empty the bin every day, your brain also needs to cleanse itself from negative and stressful thoughts. Unfortunately, we cannot just press a “delete” button like on a computer to remove junk thoughts from our mind. Yet, we can with meditation. So, how can one clear the mind with meditation?
During deep meditation, the brain switches off its constant chatter of negative, worrying thoughts. Thoughts like: “Where am I going to find the money to pay for my car insurance?” Or again: “I wish that b---- (your friend, who slept with your husband) would disappear." You get my drift.
While you are concentrating on the breath, you are experiencing alpha brain waves. Alpha waves are in the subconscious area of the brain organ. Together with concentrating on the breath, using a mantra helps beginners to stay in alpha waves during meditation. A mantra is the inner repetition of certain images, sounds or words.
Clearing and Cleansing the Mind
Removing all negative thoughts not only makes you feel happier, but it also makes room for positive thinking and creative ideas. Try the next breathing exercise. It is a stepping stone towards the most enjoyable meditation experience which will help you get rid of some of those bad thoughts that cause you stress and depression.
4. Breathing and Smiling Exercise
- Sit down with a straight back on your sitting bones, on the floor or on a chair, outside or near an open window. Relax the shoulders, and close your eyes. Give us a smile.
- Breathe in through the nose, close your mouth and slowly count to 3.
- Now, still smiling, breathe out through the mouth to the count of 4.
We continue increasing the count and the size of the smile as follows:
4. Breathe in through the nose, increasing the size of the smile to the count of 5.
5. Breathe out through the mouth to the count of 6.
6. Breathe in through the nose to the count of 7.
7. Breathe out through the mouth to the count of 8.
8. Breathe in through the nose to the count of 9.
9. Breathe out through the mouth to the count of 10.
10. Breathe in through the nose to the count of 11.
11. Breathe out through the mouth to the count of 12.
As an extra bonus, the breathing and smiling exercise is a good facial rejuvenation practice. It tones up many little facial muscles to prevent premature ageing in the face. You know that bull-dog effect from a hanging jaw-line. Or even worse, those permanently drooping mouth corners from being put down or verbally abused over a long period of time. Such features give you such a chronic unhappy expression, people often ask, "Are you OK?" even when you are feeling fine. Stress from abuse is always visible on the face. How do you get rid of it?
5. How to Deal With Stress From Abuse
Having done the breathing and smiling exercise, all tension should have left your body. What a great feeling! You may not be able to get the 12 count breath at the first go, just go as far as you can. Tomorrow or the next time you practice, the length of your breaths will improve. A shortened version of the above breathing exercise may be useful in any critical situation. For example, your boss or wife/husband is shouting abuse at you. Do not start a ping-pong game of insults. Stay cool, do not respond with words. Rude people are just waiting for the situation to escalate into a fight. Be smart and do not give them the satisfaction of getting you into a stressful argument.
On the other hand, do not bottle up your bad thoughts either. Instead, let the shoulders relax, imagine that person is sitting on the toilet. Or even better, imagine that person is a helpless newborn baby. Then, mentally throw their presence away completely. Now take a few deep breaths as described previously.
They may still be shouting, but the shower of abuse glides over your controlled mind. A mind well able to find its deepest core: where peace and happiness reside for your own preservation, where peace and happiness are a constant.. You may always return to that precious place, even when you are not meditating, by concentrating on your breath.
Next, we look at personal stress and depression management techniques.
6. Personal Stress and Depression Management Techniques
Set aside relaxation and fun time, without binge eating, drugs or alcohol.
- Use and trust your gut feelings.
- Listen to pleasant sounds like children's laughter or a flowing stream.
- Appreciate beautiful colors and shapes.
- Visit peaceful spots where you can relax in complete silence.
- Do some gardening, take long walks or cycle in nature.
- Read a funny book. While you are reading you are not thinking about your problems.
- Don’t feel guilty about “being lazy” when you deserve a good rest.
- Enjoy a siesta, cat nap, or that well-deserved lie-in.
- Feel comfortable in your clothes and in your home.
- Get plenty of good sleep in a dark, airy room free from noise and TV blasting horror movies or the news.
- Go to bed early.
- Try to go to sleep with a book instead of TV. Or even better, meditate yourself to sleep.
- Try to get up without an alarm clock which is the worst torturing device.
- Go for a massage with aroma-therapeutic oils.
- Enjoy the good smells of nature, like orange blossom and fine herbs.
- Have a bath instead of a shower often ducking under water for a complete weight-free feeling.
- Do slow neck rolls underwater in the bath to relax your neck, shoulders and spine.
- Use scents from aromatherapy with an essential oils diffuser to reinvent the atmosphere in your home and bathroom.
In this way, your senses can guide you towards useful personal stress management techniques but there are even more options to rid yourself from unnecessary stress by looking at what you eat and drink and how you use your body.
7. Exercise and Nutrition Tips for a Stress-Free Life
- Exercise regularly, preferably outdoors with yoga, tai-chi, playing with children, swim in the ocean, horse riding.
- Do not expect to drink your worries away. Alcohol hinders the absorption of B-complex vitamins and zinc, which help us feel calmer and more balanced.
- Eat a healthy, fibrous, mostly fruit, vegetable, pulses and nuts diet.
- Do not try eating your troubles away with junk food, cake, ice cream, or chocolate.
- Avoid all saturated fats like bacon, butter and cheese.
- Best to avoid meat and dairy altogether.
- Cut out coffee, tea and all sweet drinks. Drink water instead.
Now that we have taken care of personal stress and depression management techniques, we can move on to social techniques by sharing our troubles and helping others. Remember, many people out there are much, much worse off than you are right now.
8. Humor and Fun-Related Social Stress and Depression Management Techniques
- Give more attention to other people's problems and help them out.
- Spend time laughing with children and animals.
- Spend time laughing with old people, listen to their fascinating stories.
- Don’t think or analyze too much on your own. Instead, laugh at yourself.
- Share your problems with a friend or a group of friends who have similar hassles. In hindsight, you can all have a good laugh about your joined miss-fortunes.
- Imagine you are three months ahead in time and you can now laugh about your problem.
- Call your mother, she will always be your best friend and give you that much-needed pep-talk.
- Accept the things you cannot change about the world. They are ridiculous.
- Change the things you can change about yourself.
- Get plenty of sex, which is the best exercise and the most enjoyable and most relaxing activity imaginable.
- Last but not least, experience total gravity inversion.
9. Ultimate Anti-Depression Tool: Gravity Inversion
The best way to get rid of stress and to avoid depression is to get rid of the constant downward pressure of gravity. Why? Because the gentle traction experienced by the body on a gravity inversion table puts all your "bits" back into a natural, more elongated skeletal alignment. With gentle traction in the entire skeleton, you let go of all tension and loosen every joint.
10. The Science of Laughter
A study conducted in 2003 by Charles Schaefer reveals that the act of smiling and laughing creates a chemical reaction in the brain that says: "I feel happy". I often play the laughing game with small children. Kids love to laugh so much, they don't even need a reason to laugh. The other good thing about laughing is that while one laughs, it is impossible to have bad thoughts. Try it! Plus, laughing is contagious. Whether pretend or real, it seems to work both ways. To prove this point, have a good laugh with Scot Campbell's short video.
- If you have honestly completed the quizzes you will have identified your own stress and or depression symptoms.
- Now you can learn to get rid of your symptoms with the above techniques.
- Within a very short time, you will find that you will be able to cope with really stressful situations in a “cool” and positively decisive manner.
- You will become a pillar of strength. With a lifestyle and attitude that demonstrates a positive, relaxed composure.
Follow the tips and advice given in this article. Good luck on your journey to a stress and depression free lifestyle. Bookmark this page and take the quiz again in a month's time to see how your stress levels have come down.
Bookmark this page and take the quiz again in a month time to see how your stress levels have come down.
For further questions please refer to the comments discussion below. There you can air your feelings or share your problems with similar case histories to your own.
And . . . don’t forget to laugh!
- Coping with Stress
- Benefits of Meditation
- Alpha Brainwaves
- Hanging Upside Down
- The Science of Laughter
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on March 08, 2015:
I do hope you get hooked on meditation. Mind cleansing is the most wonderful experience and it is sssooo useful! Stick with it, you'll never regret it. The more you practice, the better you get at it, and the more enjoyable it becomes.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 08, 2015:
Sue, great hub. I'm new to meditation. Very useful and informative. Voted up!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on January 02, 2015:
Hi peachpurple, I couldn't cope with the quiz capsule so had to do it this way. HP coud do with some tutorial videos for thickos like me. :)
peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 02, 2015:
thanks for the quiz, now i can know when i am having stress, voted up
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on December 27, 2014:
The Ethics and Psychology of Humor, that sounds interesting. Would you write something about that here on HubPages?
Meanwhile, look at the above video again if you want a really good laugh.
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on December 27, 2014:
Sue - this is a really interesting hub! I teach a course on The Ethics and Psychology of Humor at a university, and I may share this with my students, if that's okay with you!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on December 03, 2014:
Great peachpurple! I'm sure it will help your brother becoming a happier person.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 03, 2014:
already bookmark this page for my brother, he is always in the stress mode
johndwilliams from Essex England on November 19, 2014:
Very information and great presentation!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on November 08, 2014:
Thank you for dropping by Snerfu. I hope you got something positive out of this article.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on August 24, 2014:
This article could have been a lot longer. Consider the number of well known comedians who have chosen their profession as a means of survival with chronic / manic depression as a result of child abuse or other previous trauma in their lives:
to name just a few. But my point is that it is not very helpful to delve int the past and blame previous history or parents. A better way is to take personal responsibility.
Vivian Sudhir from Madurai, India on June 22, 2014:
Very nice article, good information too.
The Jet from The Bay on May 19, 2014:
Cool hub. I'd watch movie bloopers to cheer up, so you're totally right. Plus, exercise is a big a factor. Thumbs up!
Jennifer from Lost...In Video Games and Stories on March 25, 2014:
I love this hub! You know what they say, laughter is the best medicine!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on March 17, 2014:
I'm glad you have overcome stress Bill, and thank you for compliments which, coming from you, I really appreciate.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2014:
I've never suffered from depression and I no longer have problems with stress. Having said that, this is an excellent article filled with useful suggestions and information....AND....it is very well-written.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on February 26, 2014:
I'm glad you popped in and benefited from "Stress and Depression Cure with Humor".
I'm glad you are getting into your body. Yoga and stretching are great stress relievers and don't forget to take time out to breathe with your eyes closed and a smile on your face to eventually embark upon the exhilarating experience of deep meditation.
vandynegl from Ohio Valley on February 25, 2014:
This is great information! Very detailed too! I like that you listed both physical and mental symptoms of stress. Often, many people do not believe that stress creates physical issues, but it does. I have tried to meditate before and find it a challenge; however, it's always worth trying again and again! Yoga and stretching are my alternatives for now!
Thanks for sharing!
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 25, 2014:
Interesting and informative about how to feel good about oneself with laughter after all is the best medicine