First of all, not all stress is bad. If stress is associated with something one is passionate about, or something that is in accordance with your purpose, then, those kinds of stresses are really good for your brain health. (Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, 2019,) and can actually prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's. An active and engaged brain, even if excessively involved, is a well functioning, happy and healthy brain.
But, when our stress is not associated with our passion and if it is also combined with anxiety, then it can set us up for a myriad of health problems. Here are eight basic tips that we can employ, ourselves, which can help us to turn that big boat around toward a more peaceful existence.
1. Breathing. Everyone knows this one by now. But still, it must not go without mention. I have noticed that if I am holding my breath, then some aspect of my body or mind is experiencing stress or anxiety. To relieve it, I breathe. This unlocks the tensions. Focusing on our breath and taking even, measured, conscious breaths causes us to release stressful or anxious thoughts and lets us begin to break the pattern.
2. Meditation. Innumerable studies have shown how a daily practice of meditation can ease the mind and heal the body. Even if it is just for five minutes a day or if it is as informal as taking a walk and allowing yourself silent contemplation out in nature, meditation will bring a sense of calm and help your troubles melt away.
3. Exercise. Burning off some steam through a regular exercise program can really help to calm our body/mind. The endorphins lift our spirits and it can be fun. I love to dance and swim. I also like to ride my bike around the neighborhood. It brings me pleasure to look at the various landscapes and sometimes I go with a friend, which, through our conversation, often gives me new and different things to think about.
4. Beauty and Nature. If we take a single moment to pause in our worries and concerns, even if ever so briefly, and simply notice the beauty of nature that is all around us, all the time, we instantly feel better and more refreshed. A house plant or a potted geranium on the porch or clouds overhead or gazing out over a lake or the ocean or a forest of trees, every moment spent observing the beauty of nature will change our inner chemistry for the better. And it only requires remembering to stop and notice the beauty.
Taking it one step further, if we ask nature for help, allowing our minds to silently or aloud just ask, then we will receive. It is one of the gracious laws of nature to lend us energy when we request it. So often we forget to ask, but now, you can remember to remember. Nature will benevolently provide.
4. B-Vitamins and other Supplements. B Vitamins, especially Niacin, which is Vitamin B3, can lift debilitating levels of anxiety and depression to normal function. (Please see this excerpt from Food Matters.tv ) I like to get my B Vitamins from food sources. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a type of nutritional yeast. It has a nice broad spectrum of B Vitamins. I take at least one tablespoon a day. But my favorite source is the non-fermentable nutritional yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) found in Dr Richard Schulze's Superfood. As his website mentions, this type of yeast is not a problem for people who have candida imbalances.
Other foods that contain B Vitamins are: asparagus, brown rice, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, almonds, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, eggs, mushrooms, brewers yeast, avocados, almonds, fish, legumes, bananas, buckwheat, sea vegetables, raspberries, tomatoes, organ meats, onions, peas, zucchini and molasses.
Other supplements that are known to help increase mood and reduce stress are: Omega 3's, Serotonin, Chromium, Vitamin D and Taurine.
5. Sleep. Good quality sleep makes a world of difference in our lives. If you can't sleep, first and foremost, I advise stopping all caffeine, especially coffee. I know, it feels like the only way that you can survive, but trust me, if you are sleepless, and you are a coffee/black or green tea or mate drinker, or if you are a chocoholic, my experience has shown that it is always the caffeine that is at fault.
Also, in Chinese Medicine, it is understood that we cleanse certain essential aspects of our bodies every two hours. These are known as meridians. Some of these meridians, like the one for the gall bladder or for the liver, are cleansed during our normal sleeping hours. If we consistently wake up during those hours, we may want to consider doing some herbal cleanses. (I like Dr. Schulze's 5-day Liver detox for that 3:00am-ish wakefulness.)
Additionally, the meridian that is cleansed between 9pm and 11pm is called triple warmer. Triple warmer is what balances and smooths our energy levels and our bodies can best tend to this if we are asleep for at least part of that time. It also helps to have a regular bed-time. Our bodies like falling asleep and waking up at the same time.
Another consideration is avoiding working late or watching a stimulating movie just before bed. This can interfere with the quality of our sleep. Letting those kinds of before-bed-habits go can help tremendously.
Getting a good nights sleep always makes for a calmer mind and more relaxed and even energy levels throughout the rest of the day.
6. Unplug. Modern technologies are great, but they can also be very biologically harmful. They can contribute greatly to stress and anxiety, especially in certain individuals. Just like how some people react to common allergens, while other people don't, the same can hold true with electromagnetic or radio frequencies, (EMFs.) A particularly EMF sensitive friend of mine says, "If there is just one thing that you would be willing to do to reduce the amount of EMF's that you are exposed to, it would be this, avoid using your cell phone in the car, even when it is just parked. Turn it off. The metal of the car traps the signals and they bounce around in there, continuously and repeatedly bombarding you with these frequencies." I recently found out that it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving in a car in England. The stronger frequencies that are needed to keep the cell phone connected, while in a moving vehicle, pose harm to the driver and passengers, especially children. Please see my blog, "Unplug," from August, earlier this year, for more information on this common stressor.
7. Look up. Not only do we benefit greatly from looking up metaphorically, through cultivating a habit of thinking good thoughts, but we are also helped immensely by elongating our spine and simply lifting our heads and looking around. Practicing body friendly posture, which also prevents a myriad of female problems (Christine Kent www.wholewoman.com,) and incorporating what has become known as the Wonder Woman Stance, during the day increases our comfort and can greatly improve our sense of self worth and self confidence.
So try standing with your feet comfortably about shoulder width apart, your spine erect with a nice curve in your low back, your belly relaxed, dropping forward and down, and your chest elevated. If you like, you can put your hands on your hips, then tuck your chin slightly and lift your gaze with your eyes to look around you. This alone helps our thoughts to rise and when they do, our stress and anxiety begins to fall away.
8. Common Sense in the kitchen. Sugar, alcohol and caffeine all bring us up and drop us down. Natural sugars, like fresh fruit are fine. But refined carbohydrates like table sugar or white flour seriously deplete our immunity and leave us open to: attack by microbes, poor energy levels and negative thinking patterns. Alcohol is not only a depressant, but it robs us of our vitamins. And caffeine really jacks us up and drops us down, so go easy on or eliminate coffee, tea (except herbal) and chocolate, which holds a double whammy of sugar and caffeine. None of these, which I see as 'the big three health eroders,' are ever good for anyone with any kind of health issues.
Making strides along any or all of these simple basic self-empowering and relatively easy to accomplish tips will work wonders on helping you or your loved ones to ease the stressors and anxieties of life.
P.S. 9.) My Friend's Fool Proof Method. I have a friend, who is healthy as a horse as he approaches his 90th year, and he has developed his own foolproof method for unloading stress and anxiety from his body/mind. He describes it like this; "1. Inhale a nice comfortably full breath. 2. Exhale evenly and then continue to push the breath out. Really push it all out. 3. Hold it, like that, for several moments, before inhaling again. 4. Allow yourself to breath normally for a few breaths. 5. Repeat this process two or three or maybe four or five more times. 6. Now, let the body do what it wants to do: move isometrically, contract or move the abdomen, shake or even cry until it feels complete." Though I've never tried it, this always reduces his stress and anxiety and it may do so for you as well. ♡