Natural and Gentle ways to deal with Stress and Anxiety
Life is very fast paced these days, the majority of people you talk to make some statement about how busy they are, how they don’t have enough time to do the things they need and want to do. We have all become time poor. Many of my patients are reporting more often feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, unable to concentrate, highly anxious and having trouble sleeping through the night or getting to sleep. One of the common traits I see in people is their stress levels are high and poorly managed. We have forgotten how to let go and completely relax naturally, without the assistance of alcohol and drugs.
Learning how to manage our stress levels is vital to long term good health. Having high stress levels will eventually impact on your physical health. There is a very long list of health conditions directly related to stress (do some research). It takes regular practice to manage your stress levels, Stress is insidious, and can slowly sneak up on you often without you even being aware. It takes practice and constant self monitoring to keep yourself healthy and well balanced.
Here are a few tips to assist you to get those stress levels under control and start to regain you health and your life.
Diet: Eating a diet high in alkaline foods and low in Acid foods. Alkaline foods are fresh vegetables, salads, leafy greens, low-sugar fruits, nuts, seeds and healthy oils, unrefined, organic, high-water content foods. Acidic foods are refined foods, fast foods, trans-fats, meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, white bread, white pasta and rice, condiments, alcohol, chocolate, chips, ice cream and pizza.
Fluids: Keeping yourself hydrated is important. Being properly hydrated will make a huge difference to your health, energy, vitality, and immunity. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of fresh filtered/spring water per day.
Lifestyle: Making time for you, time to have fun and laugh, time to wind down and relax, spending quality time with family and friends. Having good habits and practices in your life that contribute to good mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health.
Herbs: skullcap commonly used as a sedative to reduce stress. Passion flower is one of the most valuable and effective herbal anxiety remedies in addition to its usefulness in improving sleep and treating insomnia. Chamomile is used to soothe and calm the nervous system. Lemon balm helps restore sleep by offsetting the effects of stress and anxiety. There are many more useful herbs that can be used to assist and counteract the effects of stress on the body.
Supplements: B vitamins, specifically a B vitamin complex is very effective in assisting the body to manage stress. Stress also depletes Omega 3’s in the body so it is important to replace these by taking fish oil, flaxseed supplements or eating a diet high in omega 3’s. Magnesium supplement, under conditions of mental or physical stress, magnesium is released from your blood cells and goes into the blood plasma, from where it is excreted into the urine. Chronic stress depletes your body of magnesium.
Breathing: A simple breathing exercise once or twice a day will give your body a huge helping hand in removing excess acids from your bloodstream. It will allow you to stop, focus your mind, visualise and relax.
Sit comfortably, close your eyes and follow this simple breathing pattern:
Breathe in for the count of 4.
Hold for a count of 4.
Breathe out for a count of 8.
Repeat 4 times.
Gratitude: Being grateful for all the little things in life can have profound effects on your stress levels. There has been lots of research that has shown that people who feel gratitude are happier, report more life satisfaction, and report less stress. Gratitude pulls you out of your negative mindset. Much of your stressful thinking is automatic. By focusing solely on your negative experiences, you can spiral downward. By expressing gratitude, you give your thinking a more positive target. You feel better and you feel less stress.
Stretching: Stress restricts blood flow, causing tension in your muscles and lower back. Stretching stimulates receptors in the nervous system that decrease the production of stress hormones. The secret is to isolate the muscles that store tension by stretching the lower back, shoulders, and neck.
Patterns of thinking: Limited thinking is a precursor to the development of limiting beliefs and they cause you to filter life through a lens of misperception, which impacts the way you perceive yourself and others, and the way others perceive you. Being aware of your patterns of limited thinking, observing or catching them when they come up, and making a conscious choice to stop them in their tracks and replace them with more empowered and healthier thoughts can completely change your relationship with yourself and others and greatly improve your stress levels and your health & wellbeing.
Meditation/Relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation for stress relief
Progressive muscle relaxation involves a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body; this can be done in a meditative state.
With regular practice, progressive muscle relaxation gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension—as well as complete relaxation—feels like in different parts of the body. This awareness helps you spot and counteract the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind. You can combine deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation for an additional level of stress relief. There are many forms of meditation that assist the mind and the body to completely switch off and calm down, try several styles until you find the one that suits you and practice it daily.