Many people believe that we need to turn to medication when we encounter major stresses in our lives. However, if we learn to incorporate natural ways of dealing with stress every day, then we are more resilient to major stresses when they occur.
Symptoms of stress and anxiety occur when our fight-or-flight system is activated, producing an adrenaline rush to give us the ability to fight or run from a life-threatening situation. This is our natural, in-born instinct. It becomes a problem, though, when the fight-or-flight response is activated on a regular basis. It can negatively impact our health. This is why we need to address our stresses daily. There are many natural ways to manage stress:
Deep breathing is the simplest and quickest method of relieving stress and anxiety. For example, if you are having a stressful day at work you can stop for a few minutes during the day and spend 5 minutes taking a few deep breaths with your eyes closed. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll feel better. When we get stressed, our breathing becomes shallow and less oxygen is brought into our bodies. When you take a few deep breaths, it restores your regular, deeper breathing which brings in more oxygen to your system and has the effect of making you feel more relaxed.
One of the most effective techniques for reducing stress and anxiety is meditation. In fact, it is also one of the most effective ways to reduce blood pressure! It is not necessary to spend hours meditating every day. In fact, if you start with 5 minutes of meditation twice a day and work up to 10 minutes twice a day, that’s all you’re going to need most days to experience a positive impact. The easiest way to meditate is to sit quietly and close your eyes. Concentrate on your breathing, starting with three deep breaths. Keep yourself quiet and turn off any racing thoughts. If you experience any thoughts, just let them float by and stay quiet. Continue for 5 minutes and then end with three deep breaths.
Daily Exercise, such as walking, can be instrumental in managing stress and anxiety. Not only does it clear your mind, it burns off stress hormones so that they do not continue to build up and impact your body.
Start out with 10 minutes each day and increase it by a minute or two until you’re up to 20 minutes. You can also split it up into two sessions per day—5 to 10 minutes each. Today’s recommendation for exercise is 20 minutes per day, 3 days per week. Many of us think that we need much more than that to be healthy but that isn’t the case.
Of course, exercise does help to relieve stress and depression. This is because it increases the amount of serotonin in your brain. Get as much exercise as your schedule allows during the week. Other great fun ways to get exercise are dancing, skiing, skating, horseback riding, fencing, and any sport that gets you moving. Gardening and yard work are also excellent, and they get you out into the fresh air, too.
If you do decide to take on walking for exercise, it might be helpful to get a pedometer so you know how fast you are walking and how many steps you are doing each day. To supplement the walking, grab a pair of hand weights while you’re walking and work your arms and upper body. This will help you to burn more calories while toning the upper body.
Eliminate or reduce caffeine.
I love coffee (especially any variety that has chocolate in it!), but too much of it makes me jittery and unable to sleep. Sodas and black tea also have caffeine in them. If you want a drink that has a little caffeine, tastes great and is excellent for your health—try green tea. There are many varieties of green tea that can be purchased in the grocery store, a local health food store and even online. The important thing is to try and get an organic variety so you’re not getting pesticides.
Some benefits of green tea include:
Powerful antioxidants that help bolster the immune system. These are known as catechins and polyphenols.
It is thought to help protect against blood clots.
It is low in caffeine. Green tea has 30-60 mg. of caffeine/cup compared to over 100 mg. of caffeine/cup for coffee.
It is used as an ingredient to burn fat in many diet preparations.
Green tea is also used as an ingredient in many skin preparations and cosmetics.
Try replacing your morning coffee or tea with a cup of green tea.
Get enough sleep. We are living in the age of a sleep-deprived society. Everyone needs about 8 hours of sleep each night to function at their best. Sleep allows the body not only to rest but to heal. People who regularly get only 4-5 hours of sleep every night could eventually end up with health problems. It has been shown that some people who are overweight can lose it simply by sleeping 8 hours each night on a regular basis.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, try eliminating caffeine and alcohol during the day and getting regular exercise and fresh air. Other ways to relax before bedtime are:
Take a bath
Listen to relaxing music
Read a book
Spend time in nature. Getting outside into fresh air, whether it’s at the seashore or the mountains, always makes most people feel great. It not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing. Did you know that spending time in nature can reduce your blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. That’s a lot of benefit from doing something that’s also fun.