Ways to Reduce S-T-R-E-S-S

March 31, 2020

With so many of us feeling particularly overwhelmed during the current global COVID-19 crisis….it’s important to remember that too much stress can be detrimental to your brain and overall health so it’s essential to find ways and MAKE THE TIME to put them into practice to help reduce the stress in your life. We can help you with the ways…but please, you need to make the time!

Try these 6 strategies today to help you manage and cope with stress in a more positive way. Each of these strategies has been proven to reduce stress and promote relaxation in stressful situations….like now! #COIVD-19 #Coronavirus

S – Social Connection (okay so you’ll need to use technology to help with this one atm!)

By building and maintaining good, healthy, helpful relationships, you can feel understood and cared for. When you care for and attend to others, it allows you to get outside of yourself and you often find your perceptions are transformed. This leads to discovering new ideas about how to solve your own problems. Furthermore, when you care for others and feel cared for, your brain releases oxytocin, the “bonding” hormone, which can counteract many of the negative effects of stress.

Also, never underestimate the power of being around the right people! The health habits of the people you spend time with have a dramatic impact on your own health and habits. So (where possible) be a little more selective about the people you surround yourself with during particularly stressful times.

In the current climate, we really need to have physical distance but must maintain social connection and there are so many platforms available to help. Physical distancing does not mean being disconnected – connections are still absolutely possible in a digital world.

T – Thought Therapy

At the heart of many types of therapy is learning how to control the cynical and negative thoughts that come into your mind automatically.

Learning how to challenge and change our unwanted (often negative and judgemental) automatic thoughts is incredibly effective at reducing the stress and anxiety in your life.

Here is a terrific article by Steven Hayes; professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno to help you. http://ideas.ted.com/5-effective-exercises-to-help-you-stop-believing-your-unwanted-automatic-thoughts/

R – Relaxation Techniques

By using relaxation techniques, you will gain better control over the stress and anxiety that could be affecting your health and happiness.

Deep breathing is a simple relaxation technique and a very effective method for overcoming stress; one that can be done anywhere, anytime! When you only take shallow breaths, it reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your brain cells, reducing overall brain function. As you inhale, let your belly expand. When you exhale, pull your belly in to push the air out of your lungs. This allows you to expel more air, which in turn, encourages you to inhale more deeply. Picture (or put) a book on your stomach and watch it rise as you inhale and fall when you exhale.

Most of us are also aware of the amazing benefits of mindfulness meditation, particularly its positive impact reducing stress and anxiety. Meditation is a wonderful way to soothe your mind and help you create a state of deep relaxation. Interestingly, meditating actually stimulates the brain; increasing blood flow to the areas responsible for attention and forethought, while calming down the areas that perceive pain. And you can receive the positive benefits of meditating in just minutes per day.

Again technology has so much to offer us here…there are many many free sites and apps available if you just look for them. If you want to actually see and track the progress you’re making with your meditation practice, check out a terrific product called Muse. I use this myself and with my children so they can get real-time feedback from their brains to show them how they are strengthening their neural pathways for calm and clarity. Paste this referral link into your browser to receive 15% off any Muse product you purchase if you want to do the same https://mbsy.co/Fl88T

E – Exercise

Exercise will help you manage stress by immediately lowering stress hormones and helping you become more resistant to stress over time. Raising your heart rate through exercise also makes you better handle stress because it raises beta-endorphins, the brain’s own natural morphine! Consistent exercise will help prepare you for the obstacles you may be facing during the current COVID-19 chaos and with so many of us now working remotely, we can swap the time we used to spend commuting to and from the office, with some exercise. So go for a walk in nature or download some online classes if that’s more your style.

S – Sleep

Sleep deprivation is hazardous to your health! Skimping on sleep can affect your health in more ways than you might imagine and definitely makes you more susceptible to stress. If you aren’t getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, you’re setting yourself up for a host of physical and mental issues. When you fall behind on sleep, blood flow to your brain decreases and you are much more likely to make poor decisions. Be sure that your sleep hygiene is sound too by turning off electronics at least one hour before bedtime, avoid caffeine, sugar, and alcohol later in the day, avoid naps, keep your bedroom dark and cool, and avoid exercising vigorously late in the evening.

S – Supplement

Natural relaxation substances can be incredibly effective in reducing stress. Drink some spearmint or chamomile teas. Put dried lavender in a vase near your bed. Use calming essential oil aromas such as clary sage, bergamot, or ylang-ylang.

Wishing you wellness.

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