Some recent academic studies have revealed some fascinating facts about stress and marriage/divorce. For instance: Divorce and work-related stress can be a deadly combination for men.
Men who get divorced and report a lot of career stress may be at a greater risk for heart problems. (State University of New York-Oswego / University of Pittsburgh, Feb. 2002) Males are geared to react differently from females to stress even before they're born. Male fetuses release twice as much cortisol -- the stress hormone, produced by the cortex of the adrenal glands -- than female fetuses do. This may account for men overreacting to stress as well as being more at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. (University of Cambridge, UK, Dec. 2001) A large amount of work-related stress can affect a marriage relationship significantly.
Job stress -- regardless of marital satisfaction or couples' parenthood status -- can create the same marital unhappiness that often leads to divorce. (University of California in Berkeley, Nov. 2001) The levels of stress hormones in married people can foretell whether or not their marriages will last for the next 10 years -- regardless of how happy or satisfied a couple claims to be at the beginning of a marriage. (Ohio State University's College of Medicine, May 2001) Stress-Busting Tips Count to Ten. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit -- perhaps a park bench during your lunch break, or a favorite chair at home. Don't lie down unless you're certain you won't fall asleep. Start to take slow, deep breaths.
Think "one inhale" as you breathe in, and "one exhale" as you breathe out; you'll count the next breath as "two inhale, two exhale," up to "ten inhale, ten exhale." Then start again from "one inhale." If you lose your place, start again from "one inhale." The counting helps to focus and quiet your mind, shutting out intrusive, stressful thoughts. Continue counting your deep breaths for 10 minutes once or twice a day. Laugh it off. From a tiny giggle to a side-splitting guffaw, laughter can help to reduce stress. Research has found that laughter initiates the release of beta-endorphins -- the same "feel-good" natural relaxants that are released during exercise. Endorphins also block cortisol, a hormone that can affect your blood pressure, immune system, and weight. Rent a comedy video or go see a funny movie; read a book that has you in stitches; subscribe to your local Comedy TV station; and hang out with people who make you laugh.
Or pick up a copy of Health, Healing, and the Amuse System: Humor as Survival Training (Kendall/Hunt, 1999) by humor-research pioneer Dr. Paul McGhee at www.laughterremedy.com. Just walk away. Any exercise, even a leisurely 20-minute stroll, has the ability to reduce stress. Make your walk extra-relaxing by listening to a soothing audiotape and/or by taking your walk in pleasant surroundings. Keep your eyes open, though: you don't want to walk into traffic or other pedestrians!
Write it out. You've probably heard about the power of journaling: writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences on a daily basis can help to unburden both your mind and body. So for the next couple of weeks, try to spend at least 20 minutes a day writing in a journal. Jot down the details of a stressful day or an encounter with your ex.
You're not looking for prizes for style or grammar here: the point is to get as much into your journal and off your chest as quickly as possible. You can keep your journal(s) for future reference -- so you can see how far you've come -- or you can burn them as part of a "letting go" ritual. Tune it out. Slow music has been shown to ease anxiety as well as lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Try something from the Solitudes collection; some of their titles feature only nature sounds (waterfalls, babbling brooks, gentle surf breaking on the seashore), and others combine nature sounds with music. Check out the "Relaxation" section under "Discography" at www.solitudes.com. Practice Yoga. Hatha Yoga can help you release built-up tension and stress, strengthening the body while calming the mind. Once you've learned the poses (preferably from a qualified instructor), all you need is a quiet, comfortable place and about 20-40 minutes each day to breathe and stretch your stress away.
"People who practice yoga and meditation report they have more self-confidence, sleep better, eat better, and that their stress and anxiety levels are greatly reduced," says Helen Goldstein, director of The Yoga Studio in Toronto. "And 20 minutes of meditation has the positive effects of two-to-three hours of sleep."
For more information please visit http://www.lifeaftermarriage.com.