7 Mental Health Hacks To Naturally Lower Stress
Headaches? Tension in your back? Tight jaw? Not sleeping well? It sounds like something is playing on your mind. Take your pick of the below 7 health hacks to train your mind to find its happy place, no matter what life throws at you.
Get ready to rediscover some zen in your life!
1. Play Time Warp To Gain Perspective
The majority of what we worry about never actually comes to pass. And when it does, we usually find a way to cope regardless. So how do we access this wisdom and perspective when our minds are gripped with stress and spiraling out of control?
A simple Time Warp exercise can help you regain this calm perspective. Merely reflect back on an incident that happened, at least, one year ago, in which you felt extremely stressed. Today, how important does this event actually seem? Does it affect your daily life? Did you find a way to deal with it? Taking this jump back in time can help us remember how resilient we really are when faced with adversity - and realize that our worries are rarely the big deal that our minds make them out to be!
2. Reconceptualize your idea of stress
As strange as this sounds, try to give thanks for your stress. It is actually your body and mind alerting you to something that is out of balance in your life. When you feel stress building, give yourself a little pat on the back and thank your body for telling you that something’s wrong. By giving gratitude to your stress, it helps to remove the stress that is compounded by noticing your stress building. In other words, it takes the fear out of fear itself!
Remember also that stress doesn’t just arise from negative circumstances. Our bodies and mind can also feel stressed in large, positive events or times of change, such as weddings, promotions or exciting travel. A healthy amount of stress can also hone our concentration and propel us into taking action.
3. Imagine Your Parallel Universes
Worrying is a primitive mechanism of self-defense. By fearing negative outcomes, we pause and think twice before taking actions that may endanger us. However, with chronic stress in our safer modern environment, catastrophizing usually offers us more harm than good.
When you find yourself caught up in a mental tale of woe, take a piece of paper and write down your stressful situation. On one side of the paper, write down the very worst outcome that could possibly arise from this stressor (eg you lose your job, become homeless, etc). On the other half, write down the very best imaginable consequences, no matter how ridiculous!
Looking at your best-case and worst-case scenarios usually demonstrate how far-fetched each outcome is likely to be. In reality, most things in life wind up somewhere in the middle. You can take this another step further by planning out some proactive steps you can take right now to manifest that middle-ground!
4. Make The Most Of Some Mind Tricks
Mindfulness. This new buzzword has taken the natural health sphere by storm, and for good reason! Originally an ancient Buddhist practice, mindfulness has powerful modern applications for anxiety and stress. By becoming present in each moment, we can experience our lives fully without expectations or fears of how it should be. Start by paying intentional attention to what you are doing right NOW, with curiosity and non-judgment.
Break The Circuit. The brain is like a highway and forms well-worn roads of worry that are easy to go down when we feel stressed. When you feel your train of thoughts spiraling down a particularly negative road, mentally and firmly say ‘STOP’ to yourself. Break the circuit immediately after with a distraction that you can absorb yourself in; listen to a favorite song, google your dream holiday or talk a walk around the block - anything that resets your brain in a new direction.
Relax Progressively. Progressive muscle relaxation is a physical tool to release tension in your body and mind simultaneously. Find a peaceful, quiet space and close your eyes. Scrunch up your toes as hard as you can with a deep breath in, then release this tension with a long breath out. Progressively work your way up your body, releasing tension as you do so.
5. Pump Some Positive Tunes
Music can alter our brain waves and bring on some good vibes very quickly! It can also reduce your heart rate, regulate blood pressure and lower the levels of stress hormones in the blood. Baroque and classical music are especially relaxing, however, any tune that you enjoy is likely to have a positive effect on your levels of stress.
6. Journal Your Worries ‘Write’ Away
Writing can be a powerful way to ‘debrief’ from your daily worries and connect deeply with yourself. Physically committing your concerns to paper can also be a mental tool to feel like your thoughts are being cleared from your headspace and taken off your shoulders.
Some people like to write uninhibited about whatever comes to mind, whilst others prefer a more structured account of their day. You may even like to simply keep a journal listing things that you are grateful for. Whatever you feel more drawn towards is likely to help you clear your mind and access solutions and clarity around the things that are weighing you down.
7. Hold Your Breath… And Let It Out
When we feel stressed, our bodies tend to breathe shallowly or gulp in more air than we expel. Therefore, if we practice long, slow and deep breathing, it is virtually impossible to feel stressed as this is in complete opposition to a physiological state of stress. Two of my favorite ways to de-stress and revitalize is deep breathing and kundalini yoga sequence!
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