What is stress? Let’s keep it simple–stress is a response created from an event that is challenging or in some way sends you into a heightened alert state. These events are called stressors. Sometimes they can be good, often they are a reaction to a bad situation. An example of good stress would be if you are driving and have to react to the puppy that has lost its way into the street; you swerve to miss it and in the process have gone through a very quick, very stressful situation. Bad stress can be created by an abundant array of possibilities, ranging from work, to relationships, to money and lack of time, just to name a few. Stress can deplete your immune system and leave your body’s natural defenses weakened, while also creating other problems.
Here are some practical ways to manage stress:
1. BREATH! Take a belly breath! Having a few breathing exercises at hand is key when trying to produce a relaxation response. Try this one: Lie down on the floor and put a book under your head to create a comfortable head position (chin and forehead in alignment). If you really want to set yourself up, put a pillow under your knees. Begin by asking your body to be heavy and completely relaxed. Start breathing with your hands on your belly to help cue the movement of the breath into the diaphragm. When you feel that you have a nice full and easy belly breath happening, move your hands onto your rib cage. Now send your breath into your ribs and feel how they rise slightly. Next, relax your arms to your side and move your breath into your back. Feel the floor become resistance. Sixty percent of our lungs are located in our back body, so feel how three-dimensional you actually are! During this process, keep asking your muscles to relax and your body to be heavy. Feel the space and relaxation you have created by gaining a new awareness of your breath. Yeh mon!
2. YOUR GREATEST WEALTH IS HEALTH! What’s more important than being healthy? All the money in the world does not matter much when you feel like crap. To be consistently healthy, take daily action with your healthy habits. My rule is mandatory Monday workouts. It starts my week out with flowing energy and sets me up for success. Go and take a yoga class or give a tai-chi class a shot. Choose non-processed and whole live foods that support the recovery you need when healing your body from stress. Another good rule of thumb is to stay away from consuming too much caffeine, because it adds stress to a system that is already stressed. Take some action every day!
3. STOP WATCHING THE NEWS! AND FREE UP YOUR SCHEDULE. Listen, the media loves when they can inspire fear in their viewers. They’re in the business of stealing your time and hooking your thoughts to their programs. Giving the news a break can free up some time for you, and that means paying attention to some key health habits that otherwise might get neglected.
4. YOU GUESSED IT: SLEEEEEEEEP. Do you make it a point to maintain a consistent sleep cycle? You will be giving your mind and body time to recover strength and energy and be better equipped to handle any stressors that arise throughout the day.
5. BUILD YOUR RESILIENCE AND OBSERVE YOUR THOUGHTS. Remember change is always happening. Your perception of that change is how it will be for you. Become an observer of your thoughts. If you find yourself thinking negatively, ask yourself why. At some point in our lives we have to become our own best friends and be present enough to choose thoughts that are in alignment with our dreams. Resilient people have great friends, view change as a normal part of life, see most problems as solvable, take daily action and know how to relax.