Tools to Instantly Reduce Stress & Discover Stillness
Stress! It’s Unavoidable.
What Can You Do?
Aaaaaaargh! It’s everywhere!!!
I’m so SSSSSTRESSSSSSSSED!
Stress has got its teeth into every part of our lives these days. Just stepping out the door is a stressful experience: driving on the roads, standing in line at the post office, doing a good job at work, running your own business, raising kids, being in a relationship, being single, paying the bills, dealing with crowds, social media, lack of time, health & fitness…
Most of us will have seen this list of the top 10 stressful life events.
- death of a partner
- separation from partner
- death of a close family member
- personal illness or injury
- dismissal from work
- change of job
Any one of them has its challenges but what if you’re hit with more than one at a time?
We struggle with change. We love routine and when our routine is impacted, by any life event, stress levels start to rise.
When that sabre-toothed tiger jumps out in front of us, our fight flight response kicks in, stress hormones (adrenalin and cortisol) are released and we’re able to run away from the tiger. The act of running away burns up excess stress hormones
Problems occur when these hormones are released all day long, and we’re not able to use physical exercise to release them (a fight with your partner, stuck in traffic, boss yelling at you).
How we deal with the impacts of stress, determines our ability to beat the overwhelm of it.
Constant, even low level stress, if not addressed, can lead to health issues. The increase in adrenalin and cortisol pumping around the body will affect even just day to day functioning.
Ever walk into a room and forget what you were in there for? Thanks cortisol.
Overactive mind that stops you falling asleep, or starts racing if you wake in the middle of the night? Again, thanks cortisol.
Unbalanced hormones can affect your:
- Blood pressure
- Increase potential for depression
- Fertility issues
- Low sex drive (not the sole cause of the fertility issues!)
- Missed periods (high performance female athletes can stop menstruation entirely)
- Respiratory system – shallow breathing
- Tight muscles
Act as soon as you realise your stress levels increasing, to prevent it from blowing out to persistent anxiety or even depression.
If you’re aware you sometimes slip into a ‘freeze’ state when you’re stressed (ie you get stuck, feel like you’re running around in circles and can’t seem to find a way out of the chaos), there’s probably underlying self sabotage being triggered.
Certain personality types can be impacted by stress more deeply.
If you’re a:
- negative self talker,
- type A personality (impatient and lashes out),
- already highly excitable (or adrenalin junkie) or a
- combination of these,
you could be in trouble when the stress hits the fan!
Sometimes we try to self medicate using not so healthy channels such as;
- excessive alcohol (a little can have beneficial effects – phew!),
- emotional eating,
- spending too much money.
Obviously, these can lead to other problems and issues so let’s try and deal with the initial stress!
The best thing you can do to deal with the physiological and emotional effects of stress is get moving to burn up the excess hormones (remember the sabre tooth tiger?).
If this isn’t possible, look at these other tools. There’s a range in here of quick and easy to do, to taking a bit longer or more planning:
Any of the following techniques will help. Try them all and see which ones resonate with you. You may need more than one!
- Breathing – Taking deep breaths can instantly calm you down. When we’re stressed, we tend to take short shallow breaths (to get more oxygen in our system to run from the tiger). If you slow your breathing down and take deep breaths into your lower belly, your system will immediately start to calm down. Read more about it here: Remember To Breathe…
- Emotional Stress Release Points (ESRs) - Holding the palm of your hand over your forehead will activate these points. Read more about the technique here: Open in and Emergency (Emotional)…
- Meditation – When we close our eyes and imagine we’re in a calming peaceful location, our brain can’t tell the difference between if we’re actually there or if we’re only imagining being there. This is why top athletes have been using the power of meditation and visualisation for success in their events. Meditation, affirmations, guided imagery, visualisations, all powerful tools to minimise stress.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping) – A modality that uses particular acupressure points to release blockages in the meridians in relation to your particular issue. Click hereto see a video on how it works.
- Brain Dump – If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the mammoth list of things you have to get done, do this: a brain dump of everything you need to do that’s floating around your head. Categorise each task into one of the 4 following quadrants: (from Steven Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)
Focus on only Quadrants I and II
- Journaling – writing down what’s bothering you can sometimes lead to insight as your mind has to slow down when writing. The act of seeing the words on paper can help give you perspective of what’s going on. Solutions can present themselves and if not, just getting the stuff out of your head creates a dis-association from the emotional turmoil.
- Then burn your journal 🙂 or at least the pages with the venting. It’s always good to release those!
- Walk in nature. Intentionally connect to the trees, flowers, plants, the earth and ask for healing with what’s going on with you. Say ‘Thank you’ and know that Mother Earth will help clear your stress. That’s what she does. All our negative shit is like fertiliser for her. She loves it and transforms it into something of a higher vibration for us.
- Get somewhere near moving water. Ever come back from the beach and felt so clear then had the best sleep? The negative ions generated by the movement of the water, grabs all the positive ions from your energy field (created by mental, emotional, physical and environmental stress) and help you feel more clear.
- Have a bath. Load it up with Epsom salts (pick some up from the supermarket!). The magnesium in the salts is good for your physical body and in addition, it cleanses your energetic system too. Two for the price of one!
- Having a Spiritual Practice. Whether it’s regular yoga, meditation, a women’s circle or listening to guided meditations, something that disconnects you from your mind and into a place of stillness helps shift your focus to something more peaceful than the stress.
- Let go of energetic gunk with modalities such as Kinesiology, Kahuna massage (one of my addictions), Flower essences (can be purchased from most health food stores) or reiki to mention a few.
Then there’s the standard well recognised activities:
- A healthy diet
- A good support team that will help you process what you’re going through. Even just for a good venting session to get it out.
- A good sleep routine. Lights off at the same time each night, no electronic devices half an hour before bed, no caffeine at least after 3pm.
What To Do Now
When in a stressed state, there’s no logical, rational reasoning, it’s ‘hit the panic button’ time! No-one can remember anything helpful in that state so you’ll need reminders.
Write down these tools on coloured paper and keep them in your purse/wallet/on the fridge.
Next time you need to de-stress, pull out the paper and do one of the activities.
Let me know which one’s your favourite below!