Keeping you current on all things LBPT
T here’s nothing quite like a family vacation — even when it doesn’t turn out like you expect. My family and I visited Hawaii in February. The weather was not cooperative. Living in the Seattle area, we went hoping for a warm, sunny climate, but as luck would have it, it ended up cold, windy, and raining. Despite that, we still had a great time. I loved spending the week with my family away from home. It was an opportunity to decompress and let everyday stresses melt away. And no matter how you find it, stress relief is important. As it happens, April is Stress Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to talk more about managing stress. When you’re more in control of what stresses you, you’re more in control over things like anxiety or high blood pressure. For myself, I’ve learned a couple of ways to manage stress, such as meditation. I’ve been meditating for over a year now and every morning, I spend 15 minutes meditating with the assistance of an app (I primarily use the Headspace app). I’ve also learned a lot from books like “10% Happier” by Dan Harris. He’s a journalist with ABC News and had an on-air panic attack in 2004. He talks a lot of about the positive impact meditation has had on his life. Meditation often gets a bad rap. People assume that it’s just about clearing the mind. In reality, it’s a skill that teaches you how to really focus. When your brain is pulling you in all sorts of directions, meditation brings that mess of thoughts into perspective. You develop a greater awareness of when your mind becomes too busy or you start experiencing more negative thoughts. Nobody told me that meditation was focusing the mind when I started. I thought it was just about clearing the mind. Once I figured it out, that changed everything.
Since then, meditation has become huge for me. It’s an important part of my everyday life. When we went to Hawaii, I didn’t meditate all week. I thought because we were on vacation, I could get away without meditating.
For the most part, I wasn’t wrong, but when we got back home, it was a lot harder to get back into than I would have expected. I missed it.
Another destressor for me is art. I love to paint. In fact, you may be familiar with our art and creativity classes at the clinic. I’ve found that painting and other creative outlets can do wonders for managing negative thoughts and even pain. We’ve had patients who have chronic pain try our art classes. Painting is a wonderful way to get outside your own head. It allows you to focus on what is directly in front of you rather than what’s inside you. And people around our office all have different ways of managing their stress. Meditation is popular, and others like to exercise. I know Michael, one of our PTs, is big into exercising. Another PT, Maria, walks her dogs (we have a lot of dog lovers at the office). Our PT assistant, Erin, loves to bowl, while Dani will stop by a brewery. Ultimately, stress management or relief is really what you make it. It’s important to find what stress outlet works for you so that stress doesn’t build in your body or mind. In many ways, managing stress can be one of the healthiest things you do for yourself.
–Dr. Orit Hickman
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