Stress Part 1 talked about what stress looks like in the body and the different kind of stressors. Be sure to check that out especially if you like the science of why.
When your body is stressed or when we are in a stressful situation there are a number of things we can do to lessen the effect of that stress on our bodies. Here are 11 ideas on how you can better manage stress so it doesn’t have a negative effect on your life and ultimately your health!
- Take slow deep breaths: this kind of breathing has been shown to calm people down and stimulates the parasympathetic system.
- Stop and smell the roses lavender: breathing in the sweet, pleasant aroma of flowers especially lavender increases beta brain waves which is a sign of heightened relaxation.
- Stretch it out: whether that means getting up for a lap around your cubicle or actually staying to stretch post WOD.
- Eat balanced meals: create meals that are both nutrient dense and high quality– this will provide your brain with key nutrients it needs to function optimally. Your meals should look pretty similar to what our ancestors ate.
- Ditch the junk (anything and everything processed)
- Get at least a palm size portion of quality protein
- Aim for a thumb size portion of healthy fat
- Vegetables (mainly non-starchy) should be the focus
- Add extra starchy vegetables to help meet energy and stress need
- Laugh: go see a funny movie, browse the internet for the newest meme, let loose at the park by swinging on a swing set, let out your inner kid!
- Look at the big picture: say someone cuts you off during your commute to work and you get angry (you yell words that would typically be bleeped out on daytime TV through your rolled up windows) and the offender doesn’t even notice your reaction. When reactions like this occur regularly your prehistoric body thinks you’re in a dangerous situation, so the whole hormonal cascade we discussed last time kicks into high gear. Looking back you realize:
- Your reaction didn’t change the situation
- Nobody was injured
- You’ve sweated through your work blouse/button up
- Did you gain anything from yelling at the bad driver?
- Change your frame of mind: some people tend to be happy-go-lucky, positive Patsy type and others are more inclined to be the pessimistic, negative Nancy type. You may not realize, but you have a choice with every situation, every interaction, every morning when you wake up to look at the bright side or suffer with the dark side. For some quick tips on this topic check out this blog post www.tinybuddha.com/blog/10-tips-to-overcome-negative-thoughts-positive-thinking-made-easy/
- Meditation and yoga: this kind of relaxation and focus on the breath has been linked to positive, optimal gene expression.
- Pamper yourself: do something that makes you feel good and relaxed. My personal favorite is getting a massage!
- Get some good sleep: this is one of the most, if not the most important part of dealing with stress. Look out for some more fun facts about sleep in the coming months!
- Stay hydrated: dehydration is a common cause of internal stress. Try to reduce your intake of coffee, tea and soda while increasing filtered mineral rich water. Add a small pinch of real sea salt to your filtered water to achieve this without needing to buy expensive bottled water! Starting with even one granule of sea salt for 8 oz. of water is a great first step.
This is not an exhaustive list and it is not meant to be used at “full steam ahead” speed. Take a nice deep breath and pick one or two techniques or ideas to incorporate within the next week. And, hey!, look at that–you’ve already done one of them!
*Bonus tip* Join in on this new stress free approach with someone else. Find a buddy at the box, within your church, at work, or a special someone and help each other overcome life’s stressors together. Paul Chek suggests finding someone who has already been successful at overcoming the challenge you now face. There is no better teacher than experience!
Photo credit to Paul Chek, Author of How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy, page 188.