Here is an interesting an email that we received. A man shares his personal experience about an traumatic event that triggered a stress response. Fortunately, the remedy is as simple as learning to relax.

Dear 20 Minutes to Less Stress:

I have been reading Kevin Trudeau's book: "Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About". In Kevin's book, he states how stress can be the number one factor to a person's health issue. I encountered a situation a couple of years ago where I was under a lot of pressure. While attending a community college, I needed one class to pass. At the end of the semester, I was cramming a lot of material to pass this class. One afternoon I was traveling downtown, and felt a sudden anxious feeling and rapid heart beat.

To this day, whenever I go downtown, I feel anxious and experience rapid heart beat. One time, (the feelings were so strong that) I thought I might have to pull over on the side of the road.

Also, I was wondering if the empowerment program would help with a situation I occassionally encounter-- jumping up out of my sleep, feeling like I swallowed something that I don't have in my mouth.

One more thing, Nicky, I was reading an article when an individual tried a program such as this one and he developed mulpile personalities and mental disorders, and that alarmed me. stress reduction articles

Thanks for everything,

Our Response

Dear Marcus:

Thanks for sharing your experience. What you have described-- the anxious feeling you felt while taking that class-- is a stress response. This is not just in your head. You have experienced an emotional as well as physical response to stress.

When we encounter stress, our body reacts by producing adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones do good things for our body. Cortisol improves our memory. Adrenaline gives us energy, helps us "fight or flight," and strengthens our immune system. Good stress becomes bad stress when we don't get rid of it. When stress has no place to go, it becomes dangerous. The hormones build up in our body.

When cortisol builds up it causes brain cells to shrink. We become forgetful, jittery and anxious. Unused adrenaline makes us depressed and lethargic. Eventually, we become vulnerable to illness, disease and mental breakdown. The healthy way to deal with stress is to allow it to take its course the way nature intended. The adrenaline that your body produces needs to be released or used up. The best way to do this is by relaxation and exercise.

You mentioned that these jittery feelings return whenever you return downtown, or in the same area that you first felt anxious. What you've done is created an association, anchor, or trigger. Unfortunately, it is a negative association. You can change this by creating a new association.

I suggest that you create a relaxation trigger. Learn to relax your mind and body, and use your trigger whenever you feel stress or anxiety.

The important thing is recognzing your stress reaction (which you've done) It is good to be aware of your feelings and reaction. You can also coach yourself through these feelings. Remind yourself that the class was a long time ago, and it is over and done with. It is in the past.

Do you know how to create a relaxation trigger? It is not difficult to do. The U-Cure program will enable you to create an automatic relaxation response. Let me go over the basics here. Start by sitting down in a comfortable chair. Make sure you do this at a time and place where you feel comfortable and secure, and you will not be interupted. Close your eyes and deep breathe deeply. Focus on breathing in.....and breathing out.

Keep your eyes closed. Now relax your face. Relax all facial muscles. Let your jaw relax. Let it hang loosely or drop. Also relax your tongue.

When a person is stressed, we often press our tongue against the roof of our mouth. Or we hold it tightly in our mouth. Don't do this. Relax your tongue!

Sliently, say to yourself "just let go.... just let go."

Repeat this phrase until you are totally relaxed.

Relax your face, and every part of your body.

Have you tried the ALERT system? This system will enable you to relax even more deeply. Remember that relaxation is the opposite of stress. Like day and and white.... hot and cold....Stress and relaxation are opposites.

The sensation you described about "jumping out of sleep" is your brainwaves transitioning from alpha (relaxed) to theta (deep sleep). This is a normal response, but you can have a smoother transition by practicing regular relaxation

Some people report mysterious sensations of pain or tension in various parts of their body while in a deeply relaxed state. Sometimes this could be from tension still held in your body from an old trauma or injury. Or it may be an indication that you have stored some emotional pain. This is not "psychological pain" -- it is physical pain as well. It is very real. You may have a memory of an event or situation, and the pain is coming to the surface.

Anyway, I hope this answers some of your questions. I am not familiar with the article you mentioned about multiple personalities. Don't worry about getting mentally ill from relaxation. This is impossible! The only way a listener could express "multiple personalities' is if they already have "multiple personalitites." It is not possible otherwise. Remember, the purpose of relaxation is to restore equilibrium to your mind and body.

I wonder if the people who write these types of articles are trying to create fear, so that people stay away from relaxation. Perhaps they are pessimistic or suspicious about relaxation practices. Or maybe they don't know what they are talking about, and question other people's motives and results.

Some folks are concerned about the religious overtones of relaxation practices. The ALERT system is scientifically based, and does not involve any sort of religion. (It is a neutral in this regard)

Ultimately, you must decide for yourself what is best for you. Relaxation is a natural method, that doesn't involve drugs or surgery. There is nothing to fear about relaxation. When done properly, there are many benefits.


Nicky Vanvalkenburgh
Director of "20 Minutes to Less"

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