The simple realization that you are in control of your life is the primary foundation of managing stress in your everyday life. It does not mean that the bills won’t stop coming in, and that there will no longer be a high demand upon you as it relates to your family and job responsibilities. The complexities of the world economy won’t change either – it is what it is right now and more and more people are suffering from negative stress as a result.
What must you do? What should my focus be in the middle of all this?
The answer in a nutshell is – Life goes on and indeed you and I will continue to be exposed to stress. Being more aware of negative stress that takes a daily toll on our lives and our health, which can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, anxiety and depression among many other conditions is of paramount importance. Our strategy then has to be different. The focus has to be about finding balance, and natural ways to keep stress at a mimimum and to relieve it whenever it comes.
Finding natural ways to manage and relieve stress has become my number one priority at this time. I’ve had more than my share of it lately. It’s been taking a toll on me recently. [my recent ER visit/overnight stay, the result of stress induced spike in my blood pressure] I can no longer take certain things for granted and I realize that a plan of action on my part is a key fundamental to a prolonged healthy life.
HUSTLES AND BUSTLES OF LIFE THAT LEAD TO STRESS
Friday March 14th marked the end of my first week of vacation, or let’s just say that’s what it was intended to be. It did not quite turn out that I had a vacation week after all. My telephone rang consistently. There was yet another ER visit late at night until the wee hours of the morning, this time with my 18 month old grand daughter.
Added to my schedule was a planned business meeting I attended mid-week. There were three long distance conference calls on Friday with me trying to work through some difficulties of projects I’ve been working on, all work related.
To compound matters even more, just after noon day Friday, I walked down three flights of stairs to my car to get something from the grocery, only to find out the car will not start. My car battery was DEAD! What madness?
I felt really exhausted. The heat of the day/car caused beads of sweat to ooze through my pores. I could only imagine it glistening on my face as I disappointingly walked back up the stairs. I felt a rush of anger and I began to snap and to lash out at those around me. Clearly, I was no longer in control of the situation and my stress level was increasing.
I soon found a way to quickly compose myself as I was struck with reality that my world did not end there…my life has meaning, that I have a purpose and God has a plan and a strategy far greater than anything I was experiencing that day and times past. My battery woes would be taken care of and life will go on.
Getting out of this and moving forward, I need to take action. So beyond the pills, here is my list of some simple natural stress reducers/relievers.
SIMPLE WAYS TO RELIEVE STRESS
1.) Talk yourself through it and out of it – talking calmly to yourself can be your next best thing to snapping or lashing out at others. Don’t worry about what caused the stress, they are not that significant after all. Tell yourself everything will work out okay, and coach yourself into the task at hand and just do it.
2.) Take deliberate, deep breaths – To some this phrase may sound cliche’ but it holds true when it comes to stress. Shallow breathing is associated with stress but deep breathing will oxygenate your blood, will help to center your body and clears your mind.
3.) Meditation – meditation is very therapeutic and can take as little as 15 minutes a day, even with a packed schedule. Give yourself some quiet time to just let your thoughts begin to focus on the positive and meaningful things of life. Just that small amount of peace and quietness can help you deal with or relieve stress. What a difference in the way I felt once I got into bed and calmed my thoughts for a few.
4.) Laugh it off – not all stress situations are ‘laughing matters’ but laughter is a good medicine, like food to the soul. While laughter releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease levels of the stress causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline, it also tricks your nervous system into making you happy. Tried this a few times but will do it more.
5.) Try massages – historically, the Chinesse have used massaging as a way to unblock energy channels in order to improve health. Today, massages can be used to relax tense muscles, to relieve pain and improve circulation all of which can do wonders for the mind, soul and spirit. Will try to do this more instead of sporadically as I have done in the past.
6.) Exercise – if only for a minute per day, exercise will improve your overall health and reduce/relieve stress from your life. It does not mean power lifting at the gymn or training as if you are going to enter a half marathon. A simple stretch or a brisk walk will give you the time you need to get in touch with your inner self and to improve your mood quickly. Exercise gives you the added benefit of releasing endorphins into the brain.
7.) Try eating healhty – eating unhealthy foods [junk, fast foods] can lead to depression and is a leading cause of obesity. On the other hand, eating healthy, wholesome foods such as wholegrains, proteins and anti-oxidant rich foods will boost your energy, improve your mood and equip you what is necessary to handle stress. Stress-busting foods include blueberries, salmon, almonds and green tea. You may want to consider reducing food and beverages such as coffee and sugar that when consumed in large amounts makes you jittery and anxious.
8.) Have some down time. disconnect – it is good to disconnect every now and then from the internet and cell/phones as these are some of the channels through which stress can get to us. Cutting off electronic use before sleep can reduce insomnia related problems.
9.) Get a B vitamin suppliment – research has indicated that B vitamins promote proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system. It is also known to fight fatigue and to induce forms of relaxation.
10.) Listen to relaxing classical music – I’ve tried this in times past and it does work. Calm music have a positive effect on the brain, it induces sleep, reduces blood pressure, and reduce cortisol, a hormone that is linked to stress. If the music is not your thing then go with listening to ocean/wave sounds or nature sounds.
11.) Get adequate amount of sleep – research has shown that too many of us are getting fewer hours of sleep. Unfortunately, the fewer hours of sleep and the lack thereof, is one of the leading causes of stress. Try to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep – get a balance so that you not sleep more hours than is necessary as that too may lead to sluggishness and depression.
Promote good healthy sleep habits by doing routines that would signal to your brain that it is time to fall asleep. Turn your TV and other electronic devices off early, avoid exercising three hours prior to going to bed and avoid eating heavy meals close to bedtime. Do your best to get into bed early to sleep – it is among the best stress buster on the list.
12.) Pray, pray, pray – while prayer is often the last thing many would think about, it a great way to relieve stress. It is ones willingness to surrender the stress issues to God and to know that regardless of what the problem/s may be, He has ultimate control of everything. Praying invites God’s presence and peace into your life. His promise, [God] “You will keep perfectly peaceful [without stress] the one whose mind remains focused on you, because he remains in you.” (Isaiah 26:3 ISV)
Was this post beneficial to you? What are some of the other natural ways you have used to relieve stress? We would love to hear your thoughs in the comment section below.
photo courtesy: starlights/flickr cc