My Best Stress Management Tricks and Why It's Important to Use Them
Stress. Everybody has it. And just the mere mention of the word can trigger feelings of anxiety and a tightening in the body, causing immediate discomfort for many. We are pushed by social standards and our peers to be, act, and do certain things in order to be accepted. Responsibilities such as family, work, and bills weigh us down, and every day life becomes a race from day to day. Or maybe we feel that there's never enough time/money/experience or whatever you feel you lack, and that triggers stress for you. No matter what your source of stress may be, finding healthy ways to manage it is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and wellness.
Let me tell you a little story about how I know this first hand. I am sick. Right now, as I write these words, my throat feels gross, I have zero energy, and have that feeling like your head is swimming in space because everything is so swollen and congested. Fun, huh? Yeah, not so much. Now let me tell you the story of how I came to be this way. To be honest I rarely get sick, but very simply, I was ignoring my own needs. I fell into the pit of false belief that I had been doing so well with taking care of myself and achieving my goals that I would be able to skip a meditation session. Or I would find myself so busy with my daily activities that all of the sudden it was time for bed and I wasn't able to fit in my usual exercise routine. It starts with little things, small excuses or situations arise where we lose motivation or fall out of our positive life habits, and then we find ourselves back at square one or losing much of our hard earned progress. This is exactly what happened with me. Slowly, I fell out of my positive life habits that I had been working so diligently on honing and the stress built up, and since stress majorly affects the immune system, I could no longer fight of the basic cold germ.
But the good news is that I know how to fix it, and that my friends is the point of this post! The first thing is to heal my immune system with lots of good old fashioned rest. Good quality sleep is one of the key points in maintaining overall health and also for keeping stress levels in check. Sleep and rest gives the physical body the time it needs to heal all of it's systems, including the immune system.
Self-care is another vital step to feeling better when we're not feeling well. Making sure that we take the time needed to rest, getting plenty of water and hydration, eating clean, healthy, immune-boosting foods, and respecting our energetic boundaries are good ways to care for ourselves all of the time, but including natural care methods during a cold or flu such as herbal teas, essential oils, humidifiers in the home, and natural chest rubs can also relieve many uncomfortable symptoms and help the body to heal itself from the attack faster.
I also believe that addressing the issue at the root of the cause is important for avoiding having to repeat the issue again. I mean we all get sick occasionally, it just happens, but I figure that if I address the underlying issue of my weakened immune system, which was stress, then hey, I have a much lesser chance of dealing with this issue again in the near future, right?
So here are my top 5 tips for stress management that I find the most results with:
1. Meditation, Meditation, Meditation
There's a saying that says something like "You should sit in mediation for 20 minutes a day, unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour", and it's so true! Having too much going on or being consistently busy is a huge stress trigger for many, if not most people. Taking time to stop all the activity and to focus your mind on the present moment does wonders for not only lowering stress levels, but it also helps to control anxiety, promotes greater focus, improves sleep, lowers blood pressure, and much more!
2. Actively Release Stressors
I don't know about you, but I am the type of person who has to get my stress out of my body. When it's present, I can just feel it stirring things up in there that I don't like and I have to release it. I do this in lots of different ways. Physical exercise is a great way to release stress. Not only does it trigger those little feel good hormones called endorphins, which makes us feel happy, but it also helps to get out the nervous energy that stress builds up in your body that can cause all sorts of havoc. Some of my favorite physical activities to do when I need to release stress include hiking, dancing, playing a sport such as baseball or golf, playing tag with my kids, yoga, or swimming.
3. Let it go!!!
Simply put, don't worry about it. Where our attention goes determines how we feel about a situation. If we obsess or over think about what it is that is stressing us, it triggers more stress in our mind and also in our bodies. But when we let it go and refocus our attention elsewhere, we tend to move on past the event or situation that triggered us, leaving us feeling more at peace and giving us the space to find a healthy resolution to the stress.
4. Controlled Breathing Exercises
It sounds funny, but sometimes I literally forget to breathe or my breathing gets super shallow without me even noticing, especially if I'm worked up over something. This is a result of not being aware of the affects that stress has on my physical body, so to become more aware of my breath, I started practicing breath work. When I'm not aware of how the stress feels in my body, it gets tight and tense and it makes it hard for me to breathe. But when I bring my awareness to my breath several times a day with deep breathing exercises, it helps me to feel more calm, and much more open in my body. Breathing in a deep, slow, controlled manner has been proven to help instantly reduce stress and anxiety, it brings more oxygen into our bodies to nourish our cells, and it calms and balances the nervous systems. You can find many different breath work techniques on the internet, so try a few to see what works for you.
5. Do Something You Love
When I am feeling super stressed, I like to set everything aside and make something. I LOVE to make things. When I put my energy into creating, I put myself into a place of pure crafting bliss. Everything flows, everything is a learning experience, everything is fulfilling. Making things helps me to get my mind off the stress and as a bonus I have some fun new thing at the end :) My point is, find something that you love so much that it engulfs your interest to the point that you no longer feel interest in your stress. Doing things that you absolutely love will bring you happiness to replace the worry. Some other ideas might be spending time with friends or family doing something fun, sitting down to a favorite hobby, or spending time outside with a cherished pet. If you aren't sure what you would like to do or what you feel passionate about, sit down and meditate on it. Get quiet, take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself what truly makes you happy and makes you feel good. Then schedule some time to do just that!
So there ya have it, my to do list for getting back to whole wellness again. And I hope this post helps open up some ideas of different ways to manage stress in your own life!
Until next time!