10 WAYS TO MANAGE STRESS
(This is Part 3 of 3)
We’ve identified the most common areas that may be stressing you out and the negative effects of stress on the body. Make no mistake–you probably are in that fight-or-flight (acute stress) response more times in a day than you realize. Research has shown that it can occur 50 times a day. That’s more than enough reason to now consider how to meet stress head on–managing it in 10 successful ways:
1) MASSAGE THERAPY
When trying to cope with stress, get a therapeutic massage at least once a month. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system and turns on the fight-or-flight response. You can liken this to pressing on the gas pedal while driving. The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, can be likened to the brake. It should be the calm and controlled manner in which to live our daily lives. Massage helps us de-stress, by putting the body in the parasympathetic mode. Especially helpful is CranioSacral therapy– a very gentle therapy which helps release restrictions in the craniosacral system to help improve the the functioning of the central nervous system. Massage therapists may also incorporate aromatherapy to support relaxation.
2) BREATH WORK TO DE-STRESS
To shift focus from stressed emotions and forming racing mind patterns, concentrate on your breathing. Sit quietly in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and consciously inhale very slowly and deeply. Exhale the same way through your nose. You’ll notice the mind becoming calmer. As you continue in this breathing exercise, think of a pleasant experience or recall a beautiful nature scene. Begin to think of all the things for which you are grateful. The positive feelings and deep breathing help counteract the stress.
Have you ever watched a cat or other animal stretch? You can feel yourself relax just watching. Stretching helps one relax and feel peace. It helps you to experience control of your muscles. If you have not been doing regular exercise, begin stretching slowly. Yoga helps one to breathe properly as well as to experience greater flexibility, strength, balance and muscle control. Stress and tension is decreased and blood pressure lowers.
4) REGULAR EXERCISE
Whether you are an athlete or one who doesn’t get much exercise, tissue oxygenation is necessary for good health. Physical exercise helps you to reduce stress and relax. Take a brisk walk, ride a bike, walk your dog or play some music you like and dance. If you are fit, go for a jog or workout at the gym. The break from your routine will prove to be beneficial clearing the mind and energizing you to accomplish your tasks with improved frame of mind.
5) RESPITE FROM STRESS – A VACATION
Even if you are not able to take a full vacation, go on a mini-vacation. Schedule a long weekend away to visit a place you’d enjoy; you’ll get a break that will do wonders for your head and provide overall respite from stress. (This is barring, of course, a fiasco like the movie, “The Out of Towners” which brings us to way number 6.)
6) FIND THE HUMOR
Sometimes you don’t feel much like laughing–the stress is weighing you down. Take the time to watch a funny movie, a comedian you like or program that always made you laugh. You can go down memory lane recalling stories of family and friends in some hilarious moments. Laughter is like a jog for your insides, and changes the whole dynamic.
7) REST AND SLEEP
Sleep affords time for the body to heal or self-repair. We’ve looked at the physiologic effects of stress, so restful sleep is necessary to deal with stressful times of life as well as support internal cleansing and healing.
8) OPTIMAL NUTRITION
The cells need proper nutrition to stay healthy. Nutrients are a crucial part of bolstering up our body systems. Stress drains the body’s reserves. Adding mineral-rich foods, (especially those high in magnesium and potassium), Vitamin B rich foods for adrenal health and high-quality protein are especially important. Potassium helps to reduce stress.
9) SUPERFOODS, HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS
Understanding how the body is under seige, this category is highly-beneficial in addition to an optimal diet. For example, good anti-stress support would be fatty acids and amino acids to help the brain manage stress. Adaptogenic herbs help strengthen resistance, antioxidants counteract fatigue, and there are both herbs and green superfoods to nourish the adrenals.
10) SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT
Much of stress is fear-induced. There’s fear of not having enough money, fear of failure, fear of dying, and many more you could name. When the spirit is nourished properly, fear is replaced by faith, endurance, gratefulness and peace. You’ve heard the expression, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The more fortified you are to see things through spiritual eyes, the greater the coping mechanisms.
Clearly then, awareness of the triggers for your stress is important to recognize and understand. Knowing what happens physiologically helps you to see the necessity to fortify yourself against its ravages by taking practical, doable and highly-beneficial action. Remember, stress begins with your reaction to how you perceive circumstances. Let fight or flight with its cascading hormonal defense system be reserved for that imminent danger scenario. The rest of the time, you can learn to stop getting stressed-out and manage stress by adopting 10 wonderful lifestyle practices.