A lot of our modern ailments (diseases) are caused by modern stressors. They damage our physical & mental balance, which leads to ill health. And most atimes we are unprepared to know how to deal with them effectively. Let’s dive into how to combat that:What exactly is STRESS? Stress is the effect of external & internal stimuli throwing the body out of balance. Stress attacks the biome, which affects our mental health leading to negative internal psychological stressors.
Stress can come in various forms: – Lack of sleep – Poor nutrition – Disconnection from nature – Limited physical movement – Over-stimulation (phones, apps) – Attachment to news & social media – Over-working & blurring of work/life – Over-use of stimulants (coffee, alcohol)
Where does STRESS come from? Our bodies are designed to deal with real threats (Dog chasing us, being attacked, running out of food). But our brains and nervous systems struggle to distinguish between real and perceived (emotions, negative self-talk, fears) threats.
Stress is predominantly caused by fears. Often these fears aren’t real threats and stem from not being present. Our minds create a story around this perceived threat which we believe to be true. We then take action accordingly, creating a cycle of stress -> damaging our body
Stress and your nerves Our body’s automated functions are split into the sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic (PNS) nervous systems. SNS activation → fight – flight – freeze response PNS activation → rest and digest response
Distress occurs in 2 forms: Acute and Chronic. Acute distress is triggered by a single or series of extreme events. Chronic distress is caused by prolonged exposure to everyday stressors, triggering the same nervous system reaction, but in lower doses.
Acute Stress Responses – Increased heart rate and respiration – Elevated blood pressure – Muscle constriction – Tunnel vision – Perspiration – Dizziness After the threat is gone, it takes 20-60 minutes for the body to return to its pre-arousal levels.
Chronic stress is a state of prolonged tension caused by repeated and untreated exposure to internal or external everyday stressors. The nervous system reacts similarly to acute stress but in lower doses.
Chronic Stress Responses – Suppression of the immune system – Delayed wound healing – Breathing difficulties – Digestive problems – Sleep disorders – Depression – Anxiety – Fatigue
Stress responses are built into our DNA. But the sheer stimuli we are exposed to are too much for our bodies and minds. Fortunately, we can use our bodies to heal ourselves from the effects of stress.
Here are 9 PROVEN WAYS to COMBAT STRESS:
1) Awareness Tune into how your body feels.
Pay attention to your body’s sensations. Notice the small ways stress impacts you physically.
2) Use your breath
Andrew Huberman advocates for the ‘Psychological Sigh’. This technique is a quick fix to help alleviate stress through your breath: – 2 short inhales through the nose – 1 long exhale through the mouth – Repeat one to three times.
3) Connect with people
Chat with a loved one or have a meaningful conversation with someone close. Making eye contact can cue your body to relax. Talk through what’s going on with you. Also see how you can be of help.
Your body needs to move to help cell renewals. Send the right signals and at the same time: • increase self-confidence • improve your sleep • lighten your mood • reduce anxiety • relax
5) Fishbowl meditation
Imagine your skull as a fishbowl, and your thoughts are the cloudy, murky water. Your breathing is the filter. Breathe in → Fresh water enters the bowl. Breath out → Murky water leaves your mind. Set a 5min timer to reduce stress.
6) Get outdoors
Steer your thoughts in a more hopeful direction by using your five senses. Go outside, listening to birds, and smelling a flower are all simple “grounding” activities that help activate the vagus nerve.
Our brains are great for coming up with ideas, not storing them. Free mental capacity by capturing what’s on your mind. Daily reflection ensures you are in control of your life. It also sharpens your memory.
8) Walking meditation
Going for a walk is powerful to re-balance your brain. But not when you take your problems with you. Do a walking meditation instead. Focus on every single step. Walk around your block fully present and come back refreshed.
9) Forgive yourself
So you struggle with stress? We all do. Forgive yourself and build the life you deserve.
Other Tips Include:
Exercise regularly: Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural stress-fighting hormones. Engage in activities you enjoy, such as walking, jogging, yoga, or dancing.
Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm.
Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can contribute to increased stress levels. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your body and mind to rejuvenate.
Maintain a balanced diet: Eat a nutritious diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid excessive caffeine, sugar, and processed foods, as they can exacerbate stress.
Manage your time effectively: Prioritize your tasks, set realistic goals, and break them down into smaller, manageable steps. This helps prevent feeling overwhelmed and reduces stress.
Socialize and seek support: Spend time with loved ones, friends, or support groups. Sharing your feelings and concerns with others can provide comfort and reduce stress.
Engage in hobbies: Find activities that you enjoy and make time for them regularly. Hobbies can distract you from stressors and provide a sense of fulfillment and relaxation.
Set boundaries: Learn to say no when you feel overwhelmed. Establishing boundaries helps prevent excessive commitments and allows you to focus on your well-being.
Practice self-care: Engage in activities that nurture your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This may include taking breaks, engaging in self-reflection, and engaging in activities you find pleasurable.
Seek professional help: If stress persists and affects your daily functioning, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can provide guidance and support.
Remember, it’s important to find the strategies that work best for you. Experiment with different techniques and combinations to discover what helps you manage stress effectively.