Did you know that over 90% of doctor visits today are actually due to stress? Stress is a HUGE problem in our society today and it’s one of the many reasons why so many people are ending up sick. I speak from experience as I write this. Here’s the thing, when our bodies are under stress they are in constant fight or flight mode as if we are being chased by a tiger (when in reality, its our job, or significant other, etc.) All of these perceived threats cause our parasympathetic nervous system to be in overdrive. Being in a constant state of stress raises our cortisol levels and before you know it, we are faced with a diagnosis of dis-ease.
I’m not writing this post claiming that I’m the most calm and stress free person. In fact, my personality tends to be the opposite. I write this post because these tools have dramatically helped me when I feel stressed and I know they might be helpful to someone else.
In no particular order, here are my favorite ways to reduce stress:
There is so much research to back up how powerful meditation is when it comes to stress, it’s unreal. So why aren’t more people doing it? Well, for one, many people think it’s supposed to be this zen experience. Here is the truth, IT’S NOT. Sitting alone with our thoughts is straight up uncomfortable. But the more you practice and the more you do it, the more comfortable it gets. I do it as a routine every morning first thing when I get out of bed. I don’t even think about reaching for my cell phone until I have meditated first. Breathing techniques like inhaling for 7, holding for 5, exhaling for 10 immediately put your body into a parasympathetic state. If you prefer guided meditation instead of sitting in quiet, I highly recommend downloading the Insight Timer app.
There is something so powerful about writing things down on paper. I don’t know about you, but my brain is always going a million miles a minute. Sometimes we need a place to put all of our thoughts and ideas. The good ones AND the bad ones. Writing things down has been incredibly healing for my stress. One thing in particular that has helped is writing what I call a “brain dump.” I write down all things that are worrying me. As things happen and are no longer relevant, I start crossing them off one at a time. Also, making a gratitude list for the things I’m grateful in this moment is huge stress reliever as well. I tend to be very future oriented and it helps me to be present and in the now.
3. Get Help
Getting help from a therapist, coach, or a friend can be a huge stress reliever. We weren’t put on this planet to do things alone and it’s perfectly okay to seek out help especially during stressful times in our lives. Sometimes just having someone who is emotionally detached from your situation can help put things into perspective. Getting help does not mean you’re weak. It is a sign of strength and a self honoring choice.
4. Make Changes
Easier said than done, right? I hear you. This is coming from a type-A planner. I love certainty, routine, and knowing what to expect. In fact, making changes used to stress me out! BUT, sometimes making a change is exactly what our life needs in order to combat stress. That might be choosing a new job, a new place to live, ending a relationship, or changing your diet. Simply put, what you are not changing, you are choosing. Read that last sentence AGAIN. I, myself continue to re-evaluate the things in my life that need to change. Over and over again. I have grown accustomed to it now and am learning to lean into the changes that I need to make to live a more peaceful, healthy life. It’s not always comfortable, but it is necessary to gain a handle on my stress.
5. Say NO
This is a BIG ONE. Helping people and being there for everyone is a HUGE stressor. I know because I used to be the person that literally said yes to anything and everything that came my way. Saying no to people and events is a self serving act that puts yourself first and removes unnecessary stress by not doing things out of obligation.
6. Yin Yoga
Yin yoga is a restorative yoga that allows the body to naturally rest in poses for long periods of time. It is especially good for those of us with adrenal fatigue as it calms the adrenal glands. I personally started healing a great deal after discovering yin yoga. My body absolutely loves it and I always end up feeling 100x more relaxed than before I started. You don’t need to have a fancy yoga membership to do it. I type in “yin yoga” in the Youtube search bar and do the videos in the comfort of my own home.
Adaptogenetic herbs can help calm the adrenal glads and reduce stress. Some of the ones I personally use and recommend are: Ashwaghanda , Holy Basil , and Rhodiola. Vitamin C in small doses throughout the day is also calming to the adrenal glands. Adaptogenic herbs can be helpful during stressful times, but should NOT be a replacement for a stressful lifestyle. They should be used in conjunction with the tips above.
A few ones I didn’t mention in this list are Reiki, breath work, acupuncture, getting a massage, and getting out in nature.
Have you tried any of these stress reducing strategies? Which ones work for you?
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