Every one of us has stress in our life. Some of us feel trapped by it and helpless against it. Its true that it may seem that there is nothing you can do about your stress level. The bills are not going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, and your career or family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control to manage stress than you might think. In fact the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management.
If you want to manage stress its all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation and fun plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.
Here are 5 ways to take action against stress!
Identify the sources of stress in your life
Manage stress by identifying the sources of stress in your life. This is not as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress are not always obvious and it is all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Sure you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination rather than the actual job demands that leads to deadline stress.
To identify your true sources of stress look closely at your habits, attitude and excuses.
Ask yourself these questions:
– Do you explain away stress as temporary “I just have a million things going on right now” even though you can not remember the last time you took a breather?
– Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life “Things are always crazy around here” or as a part of your personality “I have a lot of nervous energy that is all“.
– Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?
Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it your stress level will remain outside your control.
Start a stress journal
A stress journal can help you identify the regular causes of stress in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed; keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log you will begin to see patterns and common themes.
– What caused your stress? make a guess if you are unsure
– How you felt both physically and emotionally.
– How you acted in response.
– What you did to make yourself feel better.
If you do not believe this works think again! It is true that what the mind believes the body will achieve. Where thoughts go energy flows! Negative self-talk leads to physical consequences. Give yourself positive affirmations daily such as “I have all the things I need“, “I am always able to get things done” and any other positive comment that would be the opposite of a negative though. Be nice to yourself your cells are listening!
Take Deep Breaths
Not only does deep breathing calm your body and mind, detoxify your blood and help you relax, deep breathing actually lowers your cortisol or stress hormone which can have a negative impact on your body and health. This is one connection between stress and illness. Consistently elevated cortisol levels can cause high blood pressure, immune system suppression, weight gain, anxiety, depression and more. Try a simple goal of 10 deep breaths a day. Ideally combine this breathing with yoga, in which is is called Pranayama and is the lifeblood of yoga.
Here is one example of a breathing technique
– Lay flat on your back or sit upright in a chair or on the floor so your belly can expand with air. Wear loose clothing around your abdomen.
– Take a deep breath in through the nose breathing in slowly until you cannot fit any more air into your belly.
– Open your mouth and breath out all of the air making a “O” shape with your mouth. Repeat this slowly 9 more times.
Plenty of plant medicine exists that help with stress and the effects it has on your body. Some plants target cortisol come calm the brain and some help you sleep.
Here are some of my favorite very effective plant remedies
Lavender Essential oil – Use 1-2 drops in your hands daily and breath in the scent. Lavender essential oil even just the scent alone can modulate your emotions and has been show to reduce cortisol! Use this throughout the day to manage your stress and again at night to help induce sleep.
Rhodiola Root – This is a Russian herb used to combat stress effects on the body which is referred to as an “adaptogen“. It is very effective at helping you feel more resilient to stress and less fatigue as a result.
Chamomile – Good old chamomile can be used as a tea or essential oil (use same as lavender) to help keep you calm in the face of stress. It contains apigenin, a natural flavonoid that has a stress and anxiety relieving affect. Try sipping the tea throughout the day and using 1-2 drops of the essential oil more for a more powerful effect.
Valerian Root – When stress keeps you up at night it’s a serious problem. Stress is critical for recovery of all body processes and vital to health. Use 30 drops of valerian tincture at bedtime to help improve your sleep quality.
Vetiver Essential Oil – I like this one for anxiety that makes you feel exhausted. When you get to that point you really need to take a look at your life. Make some changes and calm the heck down! Try applying 2 drops of this oil to the back of your neck and bottoms of your feet during times of high stress.
Stress makes you sick its just that simple. Take stress management as seriously as you do food, sleep and exercise and you will see huge improvements in your overall health!