5 Quick Tips to Reduce Stress and Get Your Life Back
You’re too anxious to sleep, your nails are gone, your heart races, you can’t remember a thing..sound familiar?
Stress makes you sick, makes you tired, dumbs you down and gives you a negative perspective on life.
If you feel ‘stressed out’ on a daily basis or you are faced with a challenging stressful situation, your body responds as if it is about to engage in combat, that’s a good thing if we are face-to-face with a snarling big bear in a dark alley.
Accept that there are events that you cannot control…but you can manage your response to them.
The stress response is important when in situations that are true emergencies; this is called the ‘Fight or flight response’ and this enables us physically to respond to emergencies. The problem occurs, however, when this response is chronic and interferes with our health and our quality of life. The stress response triggers a cascade of chemicals and hormones that put more stress on the body and it can become a vicious cycle.
Over time, chronic stress takes a toll on the body and this stress contributes to low-level inflammation which is the core cause of most illness, disease, faster aging and weight gain (yes, weight gain!). If that’s not bad enough, hold on there’s more: we now know that chronic stress also causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction.
Ready for one more? Chronic stress results in brain shrinkage: Research shows that stress can reduce brain volume and function, even in otherwise healthy individuals.
So what should you do if you are faced with chronic everyday stress? Make one or more stress reduction techniques a part of your life – every day.
Here are the Top 5 Stress Reduction Techniques to get your life back:
Deep Breathing. This technique stops the stress response in its tracks. Breathe in through the nose for 5 seconds. Hold for 5 seconds. Exhale for 5 seconds.
Hold the Label. Be careful how you label a situation. How you feel either positively, negatively or neutral affects the physiological reaction in the body. Your brain tells your body how to respond to an event. Take some time before judging, know that you will learn from this experience in the end and remember that we are always at choice in how we react to a situation.
Exercise. Exercise is the #1 stress reduction technique because it works! Exercise releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine that calm us down and make us feel good. Exercise also helps create a more resilient you in terms of your stress response.
Shift Your Perspective. We tend to have a “negativity bias,” which means we look at situations and events and immediately take the negative thought path. Instead of asking what went wrong, and thereby increasing our stress hormones, ask yourself what will and can go right. By doing this you will strongly exert more control and thus less stress in these situations.
Short Walk Meditation. Think meditating is too much and too long for you? Just 5 minutes of a doing A Short Walk Meditation will help to relieve your stress and the benefits accrue over time if consistent. By simply utilizing mindful walking and leaving stressful thoughts at home or at work, no matter where you are, will help to reduce stress by triggering those feel good neurotransmitters. Let go and focus on the act of walking only. Stress is a fact of life for every one of us. Make the choice to stop the unhealthful effects of it and get your life back.
Here is a video taking you through progressive muscle relaxation – get ready to be de-stressed.