Updated: Sep 11
Stress is everybody’s business. You may think you have it under control, but the truth is that stress has a way of creeping up on you, and could have major health repercussions. We live in a hectic world, one which requires our stress hormone, cortisol, to work overtime
The body’s stress reaction was supposed to be called into play when man’s survival was threatened, not when he was running 5 minutes late to work! Today, regardless of what your stressors are, there are effective natural ways to lower your stress level and bring balance to mind, body and spirit.
Mindfulness is one way to reduce stress. Mediation and mindfulness terms are often used interchangeably, and, in their simplified forms, refer to the same general thing — the idea of calming a frantic mind.
Mindfulness is cultivated to bring awareness to the here and now. Always returning to this one moment that allows you to breathe. Paying attention on purpose of the beauty that surrounds us, but also the darkness that can fade in at any moment, non-judgmentally accepting each experience moment by moment.
The mind will always be pre-occupied with memories, plans, or fantasies. Both rumination and worry are associated with an increase of anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns.
On the flip-side, mindfulness allows us to stop, to breath, and to direct our attention on what matters…this moment. Mindfulness gives us authority to accept whatever presents in this moment.
Exercise is important on calming the ill effects of stress. Exercise has numerous benefits on physical health, but also aids in regulation of emotional wellbeing, and reducing the negative results from a stressful lifestyle.
Exercise elevates levels of beneficial brain chemicals, known as endorphins, which elevate mood, promote relaxation and counter stress. Exercise also increases testosterone levels, which shares an inverse relationship with cortisol (as one goes up, the other goes down). For best results, exercise a minimum of thirty minutes, three times weekly, making sure to include weight bearing exercises.
Why is it that people often opt for massages when feeling stressed? Simple, because it works! Stress is much more than “psychological”, as its effects manifest throughout the body; muscular pain, tension, inability to sleep and much, much more.
A massage can help address some of the manifestations of stress/ Seek a massage therapist that is also trained in the art of acupressure, which is using focused pressure at specific acupoints in order to get Qi (Chi) flowing once more. Qi is believed to be life energy, with blockages of it resulting in many maladies that we cannot fully explain. Acupressure isn’t “wishful thinking”, as it has been documented to have profound effect on reducing stress levels in the real world.
Eating any chocolate makes you feel better, right? However, we’re not looking at milk chocolate varieties, which are loaded with sugar and not much else, but rich dark chocolate, which contains a compound known as epicatechin.
This compound is highly sought after, as it has multiple beneficial effects on improving heart health, brain function and more, but also the ability to reduce the effects of stress, and perceived stress. Perceived stress is defined as a relative level of stress, since what affects one person may not affect another. Improving your threshold that causes negative effects is extremely important.
The opposite of stress is fun! Laughter is the best medicine as it can do miracles, ranging from reducing blood pressure, mediating pain responses, and helping to manage the negative effects of the stress hormone cortisol. Stressed individuals rarely take time out to smile and have fun, which only feeds the flames of a downward spiral. Make time for memories, have fun with family and try not to take yourself too seriously.
Staying present moment centered is essential in managing stress. This moment is all that is within your control; yesterday is gone and, tomorrow has not yet arrived.
So today, I invite you to this moment. The mind will say things like, “This is crazy, I don’t have time for this, this will not help me.” The mind will recall thoughts and experiences of the past, or conjure up not yet played events of the future. The mind is powerful. Thoughts consume us. And, we go along because we believe we don’t have control.
Today, I invite you to this moment. You have control of where your thoughts travel and if you wish to go along for the journey. You can direct and orchestrate the thoughts that run-away by simply coming back to this moment.
Today, I invite you to this moment.
By learning to watch your thoughts come and go during this practice, you can gain deeper insight into thinking altogether (such as its transience) and into specific relationships among your thoughts and your emotions, sensations, and desires. This practice can also help you take your thoughts less personally, and not automatically believe them. Additionally, this meditation can offer insight into any habitual patterns of thinking and related reactions.
Now, Let’s Give Mediation a Whirl
Observe your thoughts as they arise and pass away. By “thoughts,” we mean self-talk and other verbal content, as well asimages, memories, fantasies, and plans. Just thoughts may appear in awareness, or thoughts plus sensations, emotions, or desires.
• Sit in a comfortable position.
• Become aware of the sensations of breathing.
• After a few minutes of following your breath, shift your attention to the various thoughts that are arising, persisting, and then passing away in your mind.
• Try to observe your thoughts instead of getting involved with their content or resisting them.
• Notice the content of your thoughts, any emotions accompanying them, and the strength or pull of the thought.
• Try to get curious about your thoughts. Investigate whether you think in mainly images or words, whether your thoughts are in color or black and white, and how your thoughts feel in your body.
• See if you notice any gaps or pauses between thoughts
Implement this, or another meditative practice into your daily routine and soon you will be reaping the benefits of reduced stress and a balanced lifestyle.