by Michele Carelse on August 9th, 2011 at 7:00 am
Underlying stress can lead to a variety of physical symptoms – from skin breakouts and rashes to headaches, tension in the muscles and weak points in our immune systems, which can lead to us feeling run down and under the weather.
For women, stress may have more serious implications, such as irregular menstrual cycles and even fertility problems. So what should we do to manage stress more effectively?
Tips for Stress Management
Before embarking on a stress management system – you need to identify what stresses you! A good indication is thinking of stressful situations – sometimes just the word ‘heavy traffic’ can stress you and cause physical symptoms – perhaps your pulse quickens and you feel ‘bothered’. You may also keep a journal, and when you feel stressed – take note of your situation and surroundings.
A deep breath can help your mind in a very specific way, increasing oxygen to the brain and helping you to relax. It can also allow those few seconds where you need to step back and evaluate the situation. Count to ten, or take a short walk, get your lungs working and breathe in oxygen, and exhale your stress!
Exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress. It provides a great way to relieve tension and releases natural brain chemicals to help you relax and actually feel better! Even a 3 minute walk or jog, or simple stretching or Pilates can help relieve tensions.
Eating the wrong food gives your body the wrong tools to fight stress. Vegetables and fruit are the best stress fighters! They contain anti-oxidants which fight free radicals in the body on a cellular level, so stock up on healthy foods that give you energy throughout the day – such as fiber rich oats and healthy energy bars. The ‘bad’ stress hormone, Cortisol, can actually be reduced by eating correctly.
Playing your favorite songs or listening to soothing melodies can help your body to relax. Sound is a great motivator for the brain, and studies have shown that certain melodies and sounds can help the brain unwind during stressful times.
5. Talk or write.
The worst thing one can do is keep stress bottled up. Learn to talk about your stresses to friends, family, fellow religious leaders or even a therapist. If you find it hard to talk about your stress, keep a journal or write down your emotions.
Sleep is key. Always take the time to rest and let your mind and body re-charge. Stress can build up to a point where lack of sleep is the ultimate straw to break the camel’s back! If you are not one for afternoon naps, have an herbal tea in a sunny spot, or cuddle with a pet. This not only helps to release stress and tension, but also helps you calm the heart’s pace and protect your immune system. Meditation can also work wonders – if you are unsure of how to meditate, consult your library or nearest natural health center.
Organize. This is one of the most important ways to beat stress. When things are organized, you are more likely to feel in control, less likely to get flustered, and more likely to succeed. Don’t leave things till the last minute, and always ask for help or ask questions if you are unsure. Do the ‘hardest’ tasks first in your day – you will have more energy in the mornings. Keep a to-do list with you at all times – as the saying goes: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
Learn to say “No!” It may seem like a simple step, but learning to say no can be hard for some people. Trying to please everyone often means that you are the one who ultimately lands up compromising, and feeling stressed. Say no. If asked to do a task or take on a responsibility, look at your “to do list” for the day. If doing it means crumbling under pressure – SAY NO! Saying no is one of the hardest things in life, but you are more likely to do a good job of the things you can manage, than doing a shabby job of things of all the things you can’t do.
9. Follow the voice inside.
You’ll notice happy people are usually following their intuition – doing the things that make them feel happy in life. Structure your life around activities that you love – the more you go with the flow – the less likely you are to do the things that stress you to the point of no return! We only live once, and so spend your time happy, with the ones you love, and strive every day to follow your heart.
10. Nurture through nature.
Nature has held the key for thousands of years – think about it, when was the last time you heard of a tribal stress crisis?! That’s because, the ancient people relied on nature’s natural ingredients to help reduce stress levels and were better equipped to deal with daily triggers. Sure, they didn’t have computer viruses and four-lane traffic like we do today – but they had other stress culprits such as wild animals and food shortages to deal with! They knew the advantages of using nature’s tried and tested ingredients – herbal remedies such as Melissa officinalis, Lavender and Passiflora incarnata that have been shown in modern research to help soothe the nerves and help balance the mind and nervous system. These ingredients are still available today – and just as effective!
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