Stress. It’s a killer. Linked to heart disease, cancer, mental illness, inflammation and reduced immunity, along with a whole host of other ailments, an unhealthy level of negative stress on a daily basis is not good.
Designed as a primal instinct to assist us in survival via a fight or flight response, stress has its place in a perceived life-threatening situation. But when encountered chronically as a result of modern life overwhelm, it is detrimental to our wellbeing. When stressed, our bodies operate in a state of panic, and this takes its toll both mentally and physically.
So here’s how to say ‘sayonara’ to stress and ‘hello’ to bliss in five simple ways.
1. BE KIND TO YOUR BODY
When you are stressed, a whole host of biological processes are activated so that you can operate on high alert. These drain your body of nutrients, which can leave you feeling worse. It is therefore important to load up on fresh, local, organic, whole foods (including lots of leafy greens, healthy fats, complex carbs and quality protein), to drink at least two liters of water a day, and to try to get to bed early, with a good nighttime routine that will help you wind down. A stress-busting supplement program is also invaluable (i.e. B-complex, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and potassium), plus a burst of daily exercise can help dispose of nervous energy and circuit-break the destructive cycle of stress (while simultaneously ensuring those lovely feel-good endorphins are released into your system).
2. PRACTICE ACCEPTANCE
Learning acceptance can be about many things – acceptance of your limitations, acceptance of your inability to control others, or acceptance of your current situation, for example. In essence, learning the true art of acceptance is about learning to accept yourself, and loving yourself for all that you are. In taking this approach, stress can be tamed and replaced by a sense of inner peace and contentment. Acceptance helps you declutter your mind, stops you from being so hard on yourself, assists you with committing to a slower pace of life, gives you permission to cease being a people-pleaser, and helps minimize worrying. This can provide an instant and life-changing relief.
There are so many health benefits from meditation that I could go on all day about it, but suffice it to say stress-reduction is one of them! A bit like watching TV on the inside of your mind, meditation is a practice which enables you to still your consciousness and harness your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy session of chanting either, it can be merely five minutes of sitting in a concentrated position clearing your head, letting your thoughts drift past like clouds in the sky. Unlike when you think, meditation involves observing your thoughts, but not engaging with them. Focusing on your breath is one way of meditating, as is a guided visualization. Meditation provides a level of self-control and self-awareness that is powerful in combatting stress.
4. BE GRATEFUL
Starting a gratitude diary has been shown by numerous studies to have a widely positive effect on mental wellbeing. Counting our blessings serves many purposes:
- it makes us mindful by bringing us into the moment
- it makes us positively reflect by allowing us to recall our achievements
- it makes us slow down by creating a reason to have some time out, and
- it allows us to gather perspective by promoting our sense of context
In essence, it boosts happiness and is an excellent de-stressor. Both Laurentine and I have a journal which we complete at the end of the day, listing three things we are grateful for. It’s a peaceful way to remind ourselves how great life is, and the perfect precursor to sleep.
5. TAKE CONTROL
Instead of feeling helpless when stressed and getting stuck in a state of over analysis and agitation, take control by choosing one action that will positively move you forward. This can immediately help counteract that feeling of drowning and drag you out of the ‘stress pit’ (nobody wants to dwell there). Remember, YOU are in charge of your life, and no one else!