Stress affects just about everything we do, and it affects the body greatly. It can be the reason we reach for a candy bar instead of a green smoothie, the reason we toss and turn at night, the reason why we gain weight, and the reason why we keep catching that cold that seems to always be going around the office. Someone once told me that although we can’t change the situations that arise on a day-to-day basis, we can change the way to react to them. Reducing stress is the key.
As a health coach, I work with people to help them make healthier food choices, eat more veggies, and deal with health issues. Everyone is unique, and each person has his or her own specific list of goals. The one thing that all of my clients have in common though is that they’re all stressed out. Stress is so ubiquitous in our lives that it usually ends up becoming the number one topic of conversation in sessions with my clients. And I totally get it. I get stressed out, too. With a constant stream of emails, appointments, deadlines, social media, and every thing else that life brings, stress seems impossible to avoid.
Here are My Top 10 Tips for Reducing Stress
- Breath Deeply. Most of us don’t even realize that we’re breathing shallowly when we are stressed out. This can trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response, which releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline into the body. Breathing deeply though the mouth into the bottoms of the lungs is known to trigger the body’s relaxation response.
- Lavender can do wonders. It can help calm and relax the nervous system, and it can even quell anxiety. Roman chamomile, geranium, bergamot, and frankincense are also known for their calming properties. I’m a big fan of Young Living’s Peace and Calming blend. Because I work from home, I keep an oil diffuser in my office. If that’s not an option for you, you can place oils on your pulse points, or even just keep the bottle with you and give it a whiff every once in a while.
- Relaxing Music. Music is amazing in that it can change your mood pretty quickly. Who hasn’t felt better after their favorite song has unexpectedly started playing on the radio? I often listen to calming music on stressful days, and I sometimes keep it playing softly in the background during client sessions. I have CDs (yes, I have CDs) by Kelly Howell and Steven Halpern that I find very relaxing.
- Meditation. Meditation can do wonders for the mind, body, and spirit. It works best when practiced every day, so it’s a good idea to add into your routine. There are many guided meditation CDs and programs that can help you with your practice. You might even be able to find a class in your area. If you’re at work and only have a few minutes, find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be disturbed (I used to go outside to my car), set the time on your phone, close your eyes, and focus on your breath.
- Laugh. There have been times where I’m really nervous or stress out about situations, and I just haven’t been able to get myself to focus on meditation or deep breathing. I have found that watching something funny can help me in those situations, though. I keep a YouTube playlist of my favorite clips from TV shows and cute cat videos for those kinds of occasions.
- Say a Mantra or Affirmation. Come up with an affirmation for yourself that can help ground you in stressful situations. I like to use Louise Hay’s affirmation “I am safe in the universe and all life loves and supports me.” I keep a few of her Power Thought Cards on my desk, because sometimes I need a reminder.
- Yoga. Yoga is great for relaxation and removing tension from the body. At a design job I used to have, we had a big closet for supplies that just the people in the art department used. It was big enough that when I was feeling particularly stressed out, I would go into it, close the door, and do a few yoga poses. One day someone opened the door, mid-cobra pose, and I freaked her out, as she wasn’t expecting to find someone lying on the floor. And that was the end of my secret yoga closet.
- Move Your Body. Like meditation, exercise can do wonders for the mind, body, and spirit, and it can most definitely help alleviate stress. If you’re feeling particularly stressed out, and you have a few minutes, go outside and take a walk around the block. It can help you relax and think more clearly.
- Take a Chill Pill. Sometimes a little outside help is needed, and because of this, there are many supplements that can help the body deal with stress, such as ashwagandha and GABA. I’m a big fan of Bach’s Rescue Remedy. Make sure you consult with a health care provider before you start taking something new.
- Stop and Take Perspective. When you find yourself in a stressful situation, rather than freaking out right out. Stop, take a deep breath and think about the situation. How will what you’re dealing with right now affect you in 5 hours? 5 days? 5 weeks? 5 months?
How do you deal with stress?