EOIN FINN works with Olympic athletes. He shares tips on dissolving stress with PRITI AGRAWAL.Stress directly affects our health. The problem with stress physiologically occurs when we have too much sympathetic tone in our nervous system.This is commonly referred to as the flight or freeze response.Where we feel anxious, our digestion slows down, our muscles tighten and our breath is less deep.
At a cellular level,this interferes with our body’s ability to make healthy new cells. This is why we get sick more easily whenever stress comes into our life. Conversely, when we slow down, we heal more quickly because this is our parasympathetic nervous system tone.
So much of stress has to do with the pace of life that we lead. As time progresses, things are speeding up. Most of our emails’ inboxes are jammed,and deadlines always loom.We carry our phones with us, so it’s getting harder to stay unplugged.
Quite often, we don’t even realise the high level of stress in our bodies until it is removed. I believe this high state of stress is what yogis called the energy of rajas. When we are in a rajasic state for long periods of time,we end up tamasic, which is the place of ‘burn out’or exhaustion.
All around the world in this modern era, we are on this stimulationand-exhaustion roller coaster.This is why we take coffee and tea all day long to keep the adrenaline flowing in our systems. At night, we need wine to come down from this heightened state of stimulation.
The prescription here is to try and obtain sattva or calm, sustaining energy. The yogis passed on so many beautiful ways of creating more sattva or parasympathetic nervous system tone through techniques like pranayama, meditation and yoga.
If I had to distil these techniques into practical advice,I would tell you to pay attention to all the sensations in the body.We all have one place where we hold tension — like the lower back, the shoulders, the jaw, the forehead or the belly.We talk about these places being always in knots.
I heal a lot of high-stressed people such as Olympic athletes. Olympics are stressful events — your whole life of training boils down to your performance over a small period of time,sometimes less than 30 seconds.When I work with them to reduce stress, I ask them where their place of stress is in their bodies.Then we breathe into it.You can get amazing benefits from 20 seconds of deep breathing, this way. Your breath is the barometer of your mood,health and attitude towards life. We have had incredible success and a lot of gold medals using this technique.
So my number one technique is to find that place where stress manifests and remind yourself often to check in to the sensations there.If this place in the body relaxes, your mind will follow. Health, happiness and clarity will be yours.
Stress is a physical thing, and when we have stress in our body, it’s a physical reaction from within our body to external stress.Major clouds that obscure the sunlight of happiness are stress,tension and worry.These result when your body and mind are not in the flow of life.Yoga helps you to get rid of this shadow, physiologically and your mind follows.Through yoga, you let your body overcome stress.
Another technique is to appreciate nature every day to diminish your egos and open up a loving connection to life.