Most of us are well aware of the fight or flight response - where an animal or a human prepares itself to either run or confront. There are many physical changes that occur with an increased heart rate and breathing pace and an influx of adrenaline amongst many others. It is well documented that in our modern world, we find ourselves in this state of stress and anxiety all too often and usually for reasons that are not life threatening! Deadlines, late buses, trying to do too much - all of these kick us into an unhealthy state of mind and body. It may be that there are also longer term, chronic stresses - a bullying boss, a sick relative, money worries etc. So we hold onto these emotions which become part of us and can then manifest themselves as physical pain.
A couple of years ago I watched a wonderful Eastern European film about a young couple whose lives were literally collapsing around them as the army moved into their city. They were alone in a barricaded room waiting to see what would happen. The tension mounted. The sounds of the army came ever closer. Someone rattled the door of the house. A flashlight passed over the window. They lay low, gripping each other's hands. Finally the soldiers moved on. The sound of their boots faded. They hadn't been discovered. Gradually, they peeled themselves from the floor. They looked at one another.
'Shall we?' said the young man. The woman nodded solemnly.
They both picked up a pillow and pressed it hard to their faces.
And screamed! They bellowed, howled and roared all their tension into the pillow until they had nothing left.
Then they smiled.
I loved this film and particularly this part. What a wonderful way to let it all out! (And yes, I've tried it and it feels good!)
There are other ways. Sometimes just standing and shaking your body vigorously after a stressful day does the trick. There are Osho meditations designed for Westerners which utilise this as a way to clear the mind. How about dancing either on your own at home or in a group? Singing helps us to let things out, while also making us take full, delicious breaths - why not belt out a tune in the shower?
We all have stress - that's just a fact of life. But let's not let it take hold. I don't know about you but I quite like the sound of shaking, wriggling, singing and roaring my way to health!