Until a couple of years ago I was always on the go, saying yes to everyone and everything and trying to fit as much as possible into each day. This lead to feelings of anxiousness and worry. Overtime this took a massive toll on me, especially with suffering from a low immune system my body eventually had enough. After seeing a naturopath I found out I was completely burnt out, putting a huge amount of stress onto my adrenal glands resulting in mild adrenal fatigue. I then realised something had to change, I had to slow down, say no to people and learn to put myself and my needs first and learn convenient techniques to deal with everyday stressors. Over the years and while studying I have learned a few effective ways to help manage my stress which is what I wanted to share with you.
Stress is inevitable, small amounts of stress can be beneficial at times as it produces a drive and energy needed to help get you through certain situations or tasks. However, prolonged stress wrecks havoc on your body causing health consequences, impairing your immune and digestive functions, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous system issues and takes a severe emotional toll. Untreated chronic stress can result in insomnia, weight gain, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, heart disease and more. Stress is unavoidable, but how we deal with stress is what makes all the difference. With ongoing practice and incorporation of resiliency into your lifestyle, we are able to learn to manage stress levels and increase our ability to cope with everyday life challenges.
I wanted to share with you some of my favourite methods I have learnt and adapted into my lifestyle to help reduce stress in the short and long.
1. Sleep more.
Sleep is the most important natural stress reducer. Aim to get 8 hours of good quality sleep each night. Promote better sleep by creating a bedtime ritual which signals your brain that it's time to slow down and fall asleep. Try going to bed and rising at the same time each day. Sleep is important as it restores your cells and neurotransmitters promoting healthy hormones and overall health.
2. Take some time out from the stressor.
Do something you know will take your mind off the problem and put you in a good mood, even if it's just for five or ten minutes. Go for a walk around the block, listen to your favourite song, make yourself a cup of herbal tea, call up a friend, revisit a funny email or google something funny. Stepping away from the problem helps to clear your mind.
Movement benefits your mind just as well as your body. It releases endorphins which help you to feel good. Move regularly and in any way you like, even if it's only a 10-20 minute stroll in the park or around the block.
4. Avoid caffeine.
Coffee, energy drinks and fizzy drinks give your body an adrenalin boost, the hormone which you are looking to reduce. Reducing sugar intake is also important as sugar is a stimulant.
When anxious your breathing becomes shallower and higher in the chest. Consciously try to lengthen your breath by breathing deeper into the belly. Meditation helps the mind and body to relax and focus. I personally like to sit on the ground with my legs up against the wall for 10 minutes to just focus on my breath.
6. Learn to say No.
If stress comes from taking on too much at home or work, learn to set limits. Also learn to ask others for help when you need it (it will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders). Learning to say NO also applies to social arrangements, rather use the time to do something for yourself, rest.
7. Change your thought pattern.
When you're stressed or anxious we often think of the worst possible outcome. Try and maintain a positive attitude and make the effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Try to say some positive self-affirming affirmations, "All will be well', "I will make it though this, just breathe and relax', "I am in control of my stress levels", "I can create positive change". I am such a believer in positive affirmations and manifesting your own happiness and health.
Healthy mind = healthy body!