Relaxation: The Magic Tonic That Cures Headaches & Relieves Indigestion

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Do you have a hobby or activity that relaxes you ? 

I’m not talking TV relax – I’m talking dissolving muscle aches and destroying headaches relax.

I’m not talking unwind or vegetate – I’m talking parasympathetic nervous system activation, slower breathing, and alpha waves.

For the past eight years, I didn’t – I suffered from untreatable headaches.

They were a constant companion. So constant that I was once diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia and prescribed GHB for my sleep (also known as the date rape drug).

Hypersomnia is a disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness, extended sleep time in a 24-hour cycle, and the inability to achieve the feeling of refreshment that usually comes from sleep.

The assumption was that my hypersomnia arose from poor sleep. That assumption was wrong – the true cause was a combination of biological sensitivity and intractable stress.

It’s still a problem – I can sleep for 14 hours and still not feel refreshed, naps make me feel like crap, and at almost any time of the day I can fall asleep in less than 30 seconds.

My headaches have been a virus, selfishly sapping away my life energy. They were mild enough that I could still function at a high level, but constant enough that I rarely felt fully alive.

I tried acupuncture, chiropracty, trigger point release, hypnosis, deep breathing, drugs, drugs, and drugs, exercise, meditation, stretching, and much more.

None of it worked – traditional and nontraditional alike.

Five months ago, I was listening to a song that I really liked – I ended up putting it on a loop and listening to it continuously for a few hours. At first I did what I always do when I listen to music: something else. Then, as the music started to capture my emotions, I started doing what I do when I listen to truly powerful music: I activated my imagination.

But somehow the beauty of the song  fully captured my attention, and I ended up in a sort of trance. Instead of reading, working, or imagining, I was fully focused on the music. In the parlance of meditation, I was fully present. And this experience did what hundreds of hours of effort and thousands of dollars couldn’t.

The more intently I focused on the music, the more I felt my headache slowly ease away.

For those of you thinking that this story is ridiculous, I encourage you to try it. Listen to some music so intently that your internal dialogue disappears. I call it music meditation. For some it may be easy, but at least for me, is almost as difficult as breathing meditation.

The point of this story isn’t that music is a magic tonic.

It’s that we all need some way of truly relaxing, but that the method doesn’t have to be something mystical like yoga or meditation. No doubt, in the right circumstances yoga and meditation are (and have been to me) much more effective than mindfully listening to music.

Don’t agree with me? Think you’re a tough man that can handle the stresses and pressures of life?

Maybe mentally you can. But you are more than your consciousness. You’re also your biological body, which may be silently (or not so silently) crying out. No doubt 95%+ of you will have a healthier biological response to stress than I – you won’t have IBS, muscle pains, sleep disturbances, headaches, and fatigue. But there will be something.

Our bodies were not designed for the modern world. If they were , we would have vegetable tooths instead of sweet tooths. Likewise, even if you can function at a high level, your happiness may be suffering because of the stresses of the modern world. The best part, for those high-achievers reading this, is that stress is a productivity killer. Kill your stress, and you may be able to perform at an even higher level.

Here’s a simple test.

Imagine that one week ago the Dali Lama (or Pope) visited your home and absorbed and destroyed all of the stress hiding throughout your body and psyche. Imagine that this changed lasted one week, until today.

Your stress would have been completely mastered. Now imagine how you would have interacted with the people in your life.

Now open your eyes and compare that ideal against how you actually did.

See a difference?

When I go through that exercise, I see a huge gap, and know that I have a lot of work to do.

What about with you? Does your stress drag you down, or do you make your stress work for you?

 

This is post 18 of the Month of Happiness. Check out the rest!

Day 1: Psychostimulants: They might give you happiness; they might give you a heart attack
Day 2: How to Harness the Power of Laughter: An Easy, Effective, and Infinite Source of Joy
Day 3:  Three Good Things, A Small Gratitude Exercise for a Large Boost of Happiness
Day 4: The Right Way to Fake a Smile For Health and Happiness
Day 5: Emotional Contagion: 5 Ways to Get Your Environment to Work for You
Day 6: Ditch Porn – It’s Playboy on (Dopamine Draining) Steroids
Day 7: Why I “Remain” an Introvert, Though the Science Suggests Extroverts are Happier
Day 8: Yoga – It Isn’t Just for Female Hipsters
Day 9: Watch More TV; It Makes You Happy!
Day 10: Kaizen: Accomplishing Big Goals with Tiny Steps
Day 11: Omega-3 Supplementation – Good For The Heart & Vitamin Shoppe’s Bottom Line
Day 12: Good Sleep: Not Optional for Happiness and High Performance
Day 13: One Tab at a Time: 7 Tips to Browse the Web More Mindfully
Day 14: Optimism, The Blind Man’s Gamble
Day 15: A Story of Change, The 5 Willpower Techniques That Create Action
Day 16: Zest, The Spice of Life… or is it?
Day 17: Exercise: Better than Zoloft
Day 18: Relaxation: The Magic Tonic That Cures Headaches & Relieves Indigestion
Day 19: Spirituality for the Irreligious – Getting the Benefits Outside the Cathedral
Day 20: Meditation – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Beautiful

 

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Linda Jo Martin

This caught me at a very stressful time in my life, so yes, there’s a huge gap between my last week and what my life would be without stress. Even though I live in a remote forest the stress of life can get to me. Little things upset me at times and my life feels imbalanced for days afterwards. It is hard to overcome a tendency to get caught up in the drama.

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Amit Amin

Thanks for sharing Linda. Do you have a de-stress ritual or go-to activity, or does your stress just fade away after a few days?

“It is hard to overcome a tendency to get caught up in the drama.” We’re fighting a basic human instinct!

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