It’s not stress that kills us; it is our reaction to it.~Hans Selye
Stress sucks, and it is a part of our modern everyday lives. Why is stress bad? And how can we manage it? Stress is hard on your body because it activates your parasympathetic system which was designed to keep you safe in dangerous situations. This system in your body was supposed to be used only for short term situations. When you have a low or high level of stress on a consistent basis, this begins to affect your digestion, heart rate, and blood pressure. If you have low or high grade stress levels for a long period of time, then it can lead to autoimmune disorders, digestive problems, and cancer. Now that you know why stress is not our friend, here are 5 action steps to reduce stress in your life:
1) Learn how to diaphragmatically breathe and use breathing techniques.
I know that this sounds crazy but one of the best ways and most effective ways to manage stress is to learn how to do breath work. What is great about breath work is that it is free and easy to learn. Here is a video that can help you learn how to diaphragmatically breathe. Another excellent way to help manage anxiety and keep you in the present moment is through alternate nostril breathing. You can learn how to do this here. By practicing these two techniques on a regular basis you can learn how to quickly reduce anxiety and stress.
Start living now. Stop saving the good china for that special occasion. Stop withholding your love until that special person materializes. Every day you are alive is a special occasion. Every minute, every breath, is a gift. ~Mary Manin Morrissey
2) Take breaks every hour when working.
Have you ever been on a project and the hours just fly by, and you forget to get up, pee and feed yourself? Or do you just become so engrossed in your project and forget about your body? If you would like to change this behavior, set a reminder every hour on your computer and get up and take a 5 minute break. Stretch your neck, your legs and do a few lunges to help your hips. Practice one of the breathing exercises from above or try going outside and walking for a brief time. It can be a breathing break instead of a smoke break.
3) Take time for yourself once a day and do nothing.
Once we leave work, we arrive home, eat, check our smart phones, play on the computer, and watch TV. There is little time that we are not engaged with our devices or with some type of screen. Try disconnecting from stress by taking at least 20 minutes a day where you just sit and do nothing. Take the time to reflect on your day and reconnect with yourself. Try using these two acupressure points to connect with self, GV 24.5, The Third Eye point and CV17 Sea of Tranquility.When stress is present in our lives we tend to let self care go. Try contrary action and take time for yourself.
Whenever we look around the world, we see smart leaders – in politics, in business, in media – making terrible decisions. What they’re lacking is not IQ, but wisdom, which is no surprise. It has never been harder to tap into our inner wisdom because in order to do so, we have to disconnect from all our omnipresent devices – our gadgets, our screens, our social media – and reconnect with ourselves.”
Learning to meditate is imperative to stay present in these stressful times. Even if you spend 5 minutes a day in meditation, it has been proven to bring quick stress relief and calms your busy mind. Set a timer (I like the meditation timer for your smart phone, called Insight Timer) concentrate on your in and out breath. Say in when you breathe in and out when you breathe out. If you begin to think, which is what the brain is for, label it as thinking and then come back to the breath. Maybe after a few days or a week you will feel like adding a minute more. Notice how it makes it easier to deal with stressful situations because you have taken the time to be present.
5) Practice good sleep hygiene and get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
Many people have difficulty with sleeping in these stressful times. A good way to combat insomnia is by creating a sleep ritual. To have good sleep hygiene, try the following:
- Stop drinking caffeine after noon or 3 PM depending on when you need to go to bed.
- Don’t take naps after 4PM.
- Do not watch TV or use and devices for an hour before bed.
- Don’t watch violent or suspenseful TV before bed.
- Try taking a bath before bed.
- Make yourself a cup of tea.
- Stretch before bed.
Create your own ritual before sleep so that it signals to your body to relax and that it is time for bed. Our bodies like consistency. Try to go to bed and wake at the same time daily. When you are under stress, your body needs more sleep to repair itself at night. Sleeping is the time when your body restores itself.
I hope that this article will help you to find relief from the stress that you have in your life. Please comment below and if you have any questions feel free to contact me! Have a beautiful week!
Want to learn more about managing your stress? I will be running a workshop that tackles stress with Breath work, EFT and acupressure.
Come attend my workshop on April 12th from 6:30PM to 8:30PM at Liberate Emporium. At Los Feliz at 1765 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The cost is $35.
Reservations are recommended.
Please call to reserve your spot! (323) 663-6000