Why we need to manage stress? Stress is a part of life, yet being stressed out doesn’t have to be. We are not always in control over what is going on around us, says Allen Elkin, PhD, director of the Stress Management Counseling Center in New York City. it is not about reacting to situations that make us feel stressed out, worried or anxious. Being extremely distressed is simply not a psychological risk ; it’s a physical one also, with harmful impacts to the brain and the rest of the body. The more stressed out we are, the more we are at risk to catch colds, flu, or even chronic and serious health problems
and unfortunately, the less receptive we are to see the beauty around and the enjoyments of life.
Take a deep breath in
Breathing is so natural to us, yet how many of us take this for granted? Don’t be shy. Hand on heart, I was one of them. We pay no attention to how we do it, right? However, there is a way how to breathe to actually improve our health and wellbeing.
Robert Cooper, PhD says: “Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which helps you relax almost instantly,” he is the coauthor of The Power of 5 – a book of five-second and five-minute health tips.
Shallow chest breathing, in comparison, could cause your heart to beat faster as well as your muscles to tighten, aggravating feelings of stress and anxiety.
Exercise for you to try.
…To breathe deeply, start by placing your hand on your abdominal area and just below the navel. Breathe in slowly through your nose and see your hand move out as your stomach expands. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then breathe out slowly. Repeat a number of times.
2. Take a moment to give yourself a massage
Activate your energy centre by simply massaging one palm of your hand by making a circular motion with the thumb of the other. This a recommendation by Maria Hernandez-Reif, PhD, of the Touch Research
Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Or use a massage gadget. I’m happy to suggest a couple I’ve been using myself.
Sometimes it’s nice to do this as a couple. It’s a great bonding time. It’s great for soothing the whole body and helping it to relax and relieve stress.
3. Smile more
Grinning is a two-way system. We do it when we’re happy and also relaxed. But even though we don’t feel like it and smile it has the same effect! It also helps us feel relaxed and happy. Dr. Cooper explains :”Smiling transmits nerve impulses from the facial muscles to the limbic system, a key emotional center in the brain, tilting the neurochemical balance toward calm,”.
Exercise for you:
Go ahead and smile. Aren’t you feeling better already? Try Laughter yoga class in your area. If you feel miserable I guarantee you, you won’t be after it. It’s good fun.
4. Write a mantra
create an affirmation which is a short & sweet, clear & positive statement that concentrates on your abilities to manage difficult situations. Dr. Elkin says “Affirmations are a good way to silence the self-critical voice we all carry with us that only adds to our stress,”
So when the time comes things won’t be going well, you feel overwhelmed, just repeat 10 times, “I feel calm. I can handle this.” Or “How can this get any better” If you need help my favourite teacher is Louise Hay
5. Take a look at your Chi energy
Chi is the fundamental life force or energy that flows through the body.
Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is a 5,000-year-old Chinese practice designed to teach people the flow of chi –helping the life energy flow throughout the body and regulating body’s functions.
A tip how to introduce Qigong into your life by Qigong master Ching-Tse Lee, PhD, a professor of psychology at Brooklyn College in New York. Here is the calming exercise: Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel. Bend your knees to a quarter-squat position (about 45 degrees) while keeping your upper body straight. Observe your breathing for a couple of breaths. Inhale and bring your arms slowly up in front of you to shoulder height with your elbows slightly bent. Exhale, stretching your arms straight out. Inhale again, bend your elbows slightly and drop your arms down slowly until your thumbs touch the sides of your legs. Exhale one more time, then stand up straight. Does it sounds similar to yoga? Yep, you are right! Try some simple and easy yoga poses. There is many books on the market and many free videos on youtube.
6. Write it down
Paul J. Rosch, MD, president of the American Institute of Stress says that writing gives us perspective.
So this is what you do: divide a piece of paper into two parts. On the left side, list the things that stress you which you may be able to change, and on the right, write the ones you cannot. You’ve heard this one before: “Change what you can,” Dr. Rosch also suggests, “and stop fretting over what you can’t.”
The Law of Attraction book by Michael Losier is going deeper how to write and understanding the power of words. It’s good fun.
7.Learn to say no
Being there for everyone and doing everything is a sure way to major stress. Know your limits, stick to them and stop trying to please everyone all the time. What you do first to stop this habit is to learn how to manage your time. Here are good tips from successful people
8. Warm up
Have a go with a tip from David Sobel, MD, author of The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook: Rub your hands together fast till you feel they warmed up. Then place them over your closed eyes for about five seconds and at the same time take deep breaths. The warmth and darkness give you comfort and calmness. Try it!
9.Shake, shake, share your body
Another fun one: Stand up or keep sitting, stretch your arms out from your sides and shake your hands intensly for about 10 seconds. This mini workout loosens the muscles in your neck and upper back (the area where we hold stress the most); if they’re strained, they can cause lots of pain. While you do this exercise synchronize it with little deep breathing, (oxygenates your muscles) Dr. Sobel says, and you’ll do yourself twice as much good.
10. Enhance your body with the right quality vitamins
We don’t get enough vitamins and minerals in our body on a daily basis. Especially when we are stressed our body uses them therefore we have to top them up.
Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Food and Mood, recommends that women take a daily multivitamin and mineral formula that contains between 100 percent and 300 percent of the recommended dietary allowances of vitamin B, as well as calcium, magnesium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc. Stay away from stress formulas, which often contain large amounts of randomly formulated nutrients, such as the B vitamins, but little or nothing else, Somer says. If you already take vitamins, you could be making some serious mistakes without knowing. Quality of a supplement plays a vital role. And how well it actually gets absorbed in your body.
11. Have some sex
If lovemaking hasn’t been your priority for a while, make it your priority! It’s good for you. Being sexually active increases levels of endorphins, you know, these mood-boosting chemicals in the brain, and it’s one of the best total-body relaxers around, says Louanne Cole Weston, PhD, a sex therapist in Sacramento, California. Scedule a date with your spouse or partner, and make sure nothing gets in the way to postpone it. Check out these benefits of regular sex
12. Take a stroll
Walking makes you to breathe more deeply and enhances circulation, says Dr. Cooper, among other health benefits. Go outside if you can; if simply cannot walk to the bathroom or water cooler, or around the office or by pacing back and forth. “The key is to get up and move,” Dr. Cooper says.
13. Relax in the bath
This is my absolute favourite. And I’m not alone. Dr. Weston says “When I have the time, nothing is more stress relieving for me than a hot bath,” “But when I don’t have time, I do the next-best thing: I wash my face or even just my hands and arms with hot water. The key is to imagine that I’m taking a hot bath. It’s basically a visualization exercise, but the hot water makes it feel real.”
14. Switch on your favorite tune
Tuning in to classical music is a lot more than just a delightful experience; it’s actually very healthy one. Recent studies have revealed that music can not only slow your heart rate but also increase endorphins and everything inbetween. Just a few as an example Bach’s Air on the G-String, Beethoven’s Pastorale symphony, Chopin’s Nocturne in G, Handel’s Water Music, Smetana’s Vltava, and many more. Which one would be your favourite?
15. Be in the moment
Mindfulness is all about living constantly in the moment, it helps our mind to slow down which leads to over all relaxation. Enhance your awareness of the moment by focusing on an item. Notice a bracelet’s shape, color, weight and feel. Bite into a piece of fruit or chocolate and really enjoy every moment of the taste. You can choose to begin every day mindfully. Practice will make you confident.
16. Phone a good friend
Talking about your problems can often give you perspective, help you feel you are not alone and feel relieved. If your friend is understanding and gives you advice, that’s a sign you have a genuine friend.
17. Plan nice things
“Looking forward to something provides calming perspective,” Dr. Elkin says. What ever makes you excited: going to a concert, theatre, a day trip, a weekend getaway, spa day or a simple appointment for an hour’s long massage will do.
Do you have a garden? Stop paying someone else to do the jobs. When you are in your garden it helps you get out of your head and lets you commune with nature. Nature works like magic. It’s a known stress reliever. If you’re not a gardener, you prefer a houseplants? Your local library will offer many books how to get started. The benefit – there is a real satisfaction. Plants means growth which shows the cycle of life. What a nice reminder that stress will pass too.
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