Stress is on the rise globally and we all feel it. Daily stressors are not showing signs of abating anytime soon. Therefore, it’s up to us to work on managing our stress so we can function well and enjoy our lives.
A little practice goes a long, long way – you just have to decide you’re going to reduce the stressors in your life, bringing you more energy and and productivity.
Choose one or two on the list that resonate for you and recognize that true change happens over time.
- Awareness – the first step is realizing and acknowledging you are stressed out! While that may sound simplistic, the truth is when we stop and focus our attention, our brains release calming neurotransmitters, and the more we do that, the stronger those pathways become. This turns attention away from the lower brain, freeing the higher brain to engage in problem-solving and relaxing.
- Diet – consuming anti-oxidant rich foods, quality proteins, fats, and complex (whole) carbohydrates provide the body with the sustenance necessary for clearer thinking and plenty of energy so you are productive.
- Exercise – humans are designed to move so find a way to do the recommended daily minimum of 25 minutes of moderate activity.
- Practice relaxation techniques until you find the one that resonates best for you. Ideally, you want a a physical action you can do the moment you start feeling that familiar stress or overwhelm response – the reflexive one such as anger, sweating, rapid heart beat, fear, or shallow breathing. Unless you’re in a clearly dangerous situation, there is no reason for the body to be in a sustained “fight or flight” mode, and you’ll be surprised at how much clearer your thinking is. Saves you energy, big time.
- Attitude – building on steps 1 and 4, meditation has been shown to change the brain’s structure. You don’t have to do a lot or sit still: qigong or yoga are two examples of going within and working the body simultaneously. Put another way, strengthening the mind-body connection will improve your mood so if you habitually experience dark days, these become fewer and fewer. You can also do some specific methods to change habitual patterns of thinking to assert a positive outcome.
- “Me” – time: claim a few minutes each day so you can filter out the dross, re-group, and prioritize what’s important.
- Social energy output and input: socialize with people who think positively or who are even further along the evolutionary curve than you are – it makes quite a difference in the quality of your life! Say “no” to people who drain you and reclaim energy spent.
- Type B personality: try it on for a week. Our culture favors 110% effort whereas doing a little less actually accomplishes more. Studies show multi-taskers are less efficient and ultimately it’s better to concentrate on completing one task at a time.
- Sleep –necessary for your body to do its natural repair work, including cycling the detritus from the cerebro-spinal fluid, strengthen the immune system, and reabsorbing fluid to keep the spinal discs “juicy.”
- Flexibility: situations and people are unpredictable and expect that you’ll experience any number of aggravating disruptions in a day. Who doesn’t to be a hermit in a cave some days? Step 4 will help!
Acupuncture has been proven to affect the areas of the brain involved with stress. It helps you change and bypasses thought so it’s a great accompaniment with yoga, qigong, or talk therapy, whichever resonates for you. While it’s good to become aware, acupuncture gives you a respite that allows you to puts your feelings and thoughts in perspective.