Stress is unavoidable and isn't all bad! However, we are bombarded with it in this day and age and we all could do with a little less of it. Use these simple and healthy practices to quickly and effectively stress anywhere and anytime.
In today's hustle and grind society, it's easy to feel like we need to be doing ALL of the things ALL of the time! Especially with the pressures of social media, we tend to burn ourselves out trying be and do everything, all at once. It's STRESSFUL!
Stress has a profound impact on the body, and long-term stress has profound implications on our health. When under constant stress, the sympathetic nervous system, also known as fight or flight, can get stuck switched on. When the body is in fight or flight, messages are sent out, telling many internal functions to shut down while also telling the heart to pump out blood to the extremities. This mechanism would help to keep us safe if we were in immediate physical danger but doesn't do much good when we're stressing about work, money, a relationship or any other daily worries. When the sympathetic nervous system is triggered, the digestive system is not the body's primary focus, affecting the break down and absorption of many nutrients. Many stored nutrients are also depleted when the body is in fight or flight, vitamin C for example, a powerful antioxidant that offers protection against heart disease and supports the immune system.
Benefits of Reducing Stress
- Lessens Chances of Heart Disease
- Improved Digestion
- Improved Hormonal Balance & Function
- Better Immune Function
- Less Anxiety
- Clearer Thinking
- Better Decision Making
- Enhanced Intuition
Now, depending on the type of person you are, reducing stress might be something very simple for you to achieve, or it could be one of your biggest challenges. Either way, most of us could do with a little less stress in our lives, minds and bodies.
What's Going On When You Can't Relax
If you feel that you just can't wind down or relax, that's a sign your adrenals are working in overdrive. That feeling of being tired but wired happens right before burn out (adrenal fatigue). Your body is pumping out so much cortisol and nutrient stores that it will eventually become depleted. This is a sign you need to slow down, breathe deep and be mindful of any type of stressor (even stimulants like alcohol and caffeine).
Signs Your Nervous System Is In Overdrive
- Being in a perpetual state of flight or flight (never being able to fully relax)
- Difficulty falling asleep or winding down
- Feeling tired but wired
- Digestion & gut issues
- Constant anxiety
- Shallow breathing
- heart palpitations
- Sweaty palms and torso
- Breaking out along the jaw-line
Thankfully, there’s lots we can do to bring our nervous systems back into balance. When we do this we are activating our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). When we are in a state of rest and digest, our bodies process and absorb nutrients more efficiently, we think more clearly, sleep deeper, make better decisions and feel calmer.
How to Activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System
- Breath work / Deep Belly Breathing
- Restorative Yoga
- Massage/Human Touch
- Lessen Evening Screen Time
- Avoid Stimulants such as Caffeine and alcohol
Three Ways to Reduce Stress Quickly & Effectively
1. Deep Breathing / Breath Work
Our Breath is the most simple yet powerful tool we have when it comes to reducing stress. Taking a few long deep breaths in and out triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. This is our rest and digest response, the one we want to be in! Meditation, yoga and breathwork practices can help to strengthen and deepen your breathing as well as your connection to your breath. Practices like alternate nostril breathing can have a quick and powerful effect on reducing anxiety and stress by balancing both hemispheres of the brain.
2. Getting Out in Nature
Being in nature and even just looking at pictures of nature have a similar effect as deep breathing. It also triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, putting us in that calm, relaxed state. Walking in nature is a great way to incorporate movement and deep breathing into the mix, a triple whammy de-stressor!
3. Having Fun!
What better way to de-stress than to kick off your shoes off and have a little fun! Having fun doesn't have to mean doing anything extravagant or require anything other than your state of mind. Doing whatever it is that makes your heart sing can help to bring on the rest and digest response. It can be anything as simple as listening to your favourite song, singing, dancing, playing your favourite sport or game, painting, colouring, gardening, snuggling with your pet, you get the idea! Being in that flow state (being in the present moment) allows our bodies to respond to what is truly happening rather than some perceived threat we are worrying about in our minds.
Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles. It takes away today's peace ~ Randy Armstrong
There you have it, many reasons to keep stress at bay and some simple ways to reduce stress quickly and effectively!