Top Five Tips to Reduce Stress Now
Stress is meant to be a reaction to protect the body. In our ancestors, stress was a survivial response. When they encountered a danger, like a fierce animal, their muscles tightened, their heart rate and blood pressure increased, and adrenaline coursed through their bodies so that they could fight the animal or flee the situation. Once the moment was resolved, body functions returned to normal. The problem for us in modern times is that we have convinced our bodies that EVERYTHING is a life or death scenario. We live in a chronic stressed out state, which leads to a host of other issues. Everything from general anxiety to diabetes and heart disease can be rooted in chronic stress. So what should you do?
These are my top five ways to reduce stress now. Start practicing these today, or when you're in a moment of acute stress.
- Recognize your triggers and learn to let go. Is it honestly a life or death situation? If not, then chances are you are overreacting. Just recognize this fact and it might help diffuse some of your stress.
- Stop what you are doing and be still. In a moment of stress, root yourself to the ground, be still and focus on stillness in the body.
- Breathe. Here's my best tip. Practice this breath technique: inhale to a count of 4, exhale to a count of 8. The more you work with this style of breath, the better. Extend the breath even more, working your way up to inhaling to a count of 10 and exhaling to a count of 20. This calms the nervous system, heart rate and blood pressure. It really works, so practice it regularly.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise HARD. Work up a sweat. If you are prone to stress, exercise can really help to calm you in general.
- Change your perspective. Look at the stressful situation from a differnt angle, imagine how someone else might see it. A story I read in Judith Lasater's Living Your Yoga book illustrates this point: "A villager lived in a small house with his wife, mother-in-law, six children, a cow, and some chickens. It was driving him crazy. So he went to the village rabbi and asked for help. The rabbi said that he could solve the problem: He advised the man to buy a goat. Overjoyed, the man immediately went out and bought a goat. Now he had his wife, mother-in-law, six children, a cow, some chickens and a goat. The house was even more chaotic than before. The villager returned to the rabbi and described the increased chaos. Once again the rabbi said that he could solve the problem. He told the man to sell the goat. Obediently, the villager went home and sold his goat. Suddenly, all he had in his small house were his wife, his mother-in-law, his six kids, a cow, and some chickens. Things were positively peaceful without that goat."
Good luck! Changing your reactions and reducing stress in your life is a process. It doesn't happen overnight. If you need support, I'm here! Please contact me and I can work with you to develop a meditation practice or even improve your nutrition and wellness, as diet and lifestyle contribute greatly to stress levels too.