Stress is a natural part of life – although we no longer have to run to escape from a woolly mammoth, we encounter predators on our stress-levels every day. Deadlines, obligations, to-do’s, family, cooking, cleaning, on and on – they just keep coming. When your body is not set up for success, your body’s natural alarm system – the “fight or flight” response – gets stuck in the ‘on’ position, where it impacts not just your mental state, but also your internal systems at a cellular level.
Use these 10 powerful strategies to get a handle on stress… your long-term health is at stake!
Add enjoyment and laughter to your day-to-day – incorporate hobbies that make you happy. Read a book, play with your kids, paint, bake, draw, play a sport, spend time with others, listen to upbeat music, do some crafts … just find something that puts a smile on your face and make time for doing it at least a few times a week. Bottom line: invest in your happiness.
Stay social and connected – get involved in your community to relieve feelings of alienation. Get support from your friends and family to help keep things in perspective. Avoid suppressing or internalizing feelings by having a sounding board to gain perspective – it might amaze you how trivial something sounds once you say it out loud! It also helps to keep a journal – write down your feelings to reduce tension and help you better understand and give shape to your thoughts. Make a list – get and stay organized to reduce stress. Work on improving your problem-solving skills and implement better systems to regain control over stressors.
Avoid “catastrophizing” – develop a can-do vs. can’t do attitude. Often stress will lead to over thinking, inability to make a decision, or just getting stuck – this is because the negative thoughts start to spin out of control. Realize that there are things you cannot control and others that you can so just be willing to be flexible and let it go when you are not in control and ‘go with the flow’ as they say.
“Invest in your happiness”
Positive Positioning – If you’re having a hard time getting into a good mood because of how ‘stressed out’ you are feeling, try surrounding yourself by your most positive friends to help keep negativity at bay. Researchers have found that ‘emotional contagion’ is what happens when you ‘catch’ someone’s positive attitude because of exposure and proximity. The opposite is true too of ‘catching’ a negative attitude – so limit your exposure to negativity by making a conscious choice to ‘keep it positive.’
Limit Stimulants – Avoid turning to alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, or other drugs to try to relieve your stress – instead of relieving the stress and allowing your body to return to a relaxed state, these substances actually keep your body in a stressed state and lead to more problems.
Get moving! Exercise regularly to calm your mind, lower stress hormones, and trigger the release of endorphins and boost oxygen circulation throughout your body to relieve stress and release mood stimulating chemicals. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week. Incorporate Tai chi and yoga for relaxation, calming the mind, and improving your confidence – giving you a better foundation from which to sail through any stressors that come your way.
“limit your exposure to negativity”
Meditate for a few minutes each day. Find a quiet place where you are comfortable. Focus your mind on your breathing, an object, or a specific word or phrase (mantra). If you find that distractions or thoughts are intruding, ‘push them away’ and bring your focus back.
Breathe – Use deep breathing to bring down your heart rate and blood pressure and lower stress hormone levels. Take 4 deep breaths – each time fill your lungs through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, then release through your mouth. Use Balance, Lavender, Elevation, Serenity or Patchouli essential oils topically or in a diffuser to help relax and stay grounded.
Massage Magic – Head hurting from all that stress? Apply firm pressure to the fatty skin between your thumb and finger to relieve headaches. If you are clenching your teeth, crunch on some raw veggies to release a clenched jaw and ward off tension. Get a massage, relax in a bath or use acupressure to access pressure points on the body to relieve tension and stress.
Feed your body right – incorporate stress-busting foods rich in vitamin C like oranges and grapefruits, and foods like salmon and nuts, which are high in Omega-3s. Adding real foods that help stabilize blood sugar can help you feel not only more balanced, but they also increase levels of serotonin – a brain chemical that has a calming effect. If you feel fatigued or are having headaches often, try some spinach to increase your magnesium levels. Get enough potassium to reduce high blood pressure by adding avocados to your diet. Have a glass of warm tea to ease anxiety.
By incorporating these stress reduction techniques, you can start to reduce your stress levels and make significant improvements in your health and overall well-being.
Have any tips to add? Comment down below!