You know those days when it seems like the toast just keeps landing avocado side down? You reset your ponytail and keep on going, then boom! Another slice hits the ground. I’m pretty we’ve all had one of those days.
You know when one thing doesn’t go well, another is bound to happen. In other words: Avocado.
Once you finally settle at home, you feel tired, instead of thinking about how to relieve stress, I did what many of us do… poured some booze on the situation.
Although a good cocktail would relieve you at the present moment, it doesn’t quite benefit you in the long run.
How does a person identify the source of their stress?
Our bodies hold a lot of wisdom—take some mindful breaths and get centered, then think of the individual possible sources of stress and notice how your body feels when you think of each. You will feel a physical response if there is stress—your heart rate will go up, you may feel flushed, knotted stomach, etc, listen to what your body is telling you. Stress is really how we respond to external challenges, and usually, the bigger the challenge, the bigger our stress response is. Sometimes the response is the perfect way for us to activate our capabilities and do what we need to do. In theory, after the challenge is over, we rest and recover but, either the challenge is ongoing and we can’t relax and take the break we need and/or we’ve activated our sympathetic nervous system fight or flight mode and many people are stuck in this. So, the key is to figure out when the appropriate stress response turns into an unhelpful and ongoing response.
What do you recommend to help stress at bay?
Exercising reduces stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and increases feel-good endorphins. Different body types thrive on different types of exercise. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to exercise, but at least a 20 to 30-minute walk a day can make us feel so much better. Getting outside in nature to exercise is the best.
Try telling a busy, stressed person to sit down and meditate for 20 minutes… it’s just not going to happen. So, the key is to start off slowly.
Meditation and mindfulness practices can absolutely help us with stress. There are entire university faculties dedicated to studying just this, and there is a lot of science behind the positive effect it has on reducing stress and regulating emotions.
Get your sleep.
It is so important! We can cope with pressure much better when we’ve had a restorative night’s sleep—it improves our brain function and balances hormones. Everyone is different and some people need more sleep than others but usually between seven and eight hours gives your body time to restore.
Let it out.
Screaming in the car when you’re alone can be cathartic, or if that can’t happen, then scream into a pillow, every day for a few weeks.
Write it down.
Journaling is so good for getting the whirlwind of our stress and thoughts out of our heads and down on paper. It helps us organize our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Once it’s on paper we can make sense of it.
Breathing slowly through your nose, into your belly brings you back into the parasympathetic nervous system—rest and digest rather than the sympathetic fight-or-flight mode.
Consider supplements and a healthy diet.
A good B-vitamin complex is great to support yourself when under stress, as it helps with the production of neurotransmitters, such as GABA and Serotonin. Magnesium supports good sleep and mood, Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that helps mediate the stress response. Curcumin is anti-inflammatory, so it helps combat the inflammation caused by stress.
Plus, I recommend avoiding excess alcohol and caffeine, which increases cortisol and affects sleep quality.
When the stress leads to chronic anxiety, depression, and insomnia, or if you’re dependent on substances to cope with your stress. When you’ve tried all of the things you can possibly think of but still can’t shift the unhelpful thought loops that keep you in stress mode. Or you simply just need someone to share your worries with and get perspective on your stressful situation—best to get help earlier rather than later before it spirals.
Stress is with us 24/7 but knowing how to deal and control it will benefit your overall health. You need to set time aside to unwind or your mental and physical health can suffer. Learning how to manage your stress takes practice but can you — and need to — do it.
Stay safe, healthy, and live life to the fullest.