Last week we talked about how stress can make you gain weight. Stress does lots of other bad things to you and your body.
What do you do when you’re stressed? Here are 4 (reasonably) simple things you can do to create instant stress relief.
Exercise is a GREAT stress reliever. It releases endorphins which are feel-good hormones active in the brain. Exercise also improves sleep quality, increases your energy levels and boosts your metabolism. If stress is causing sleep trouble, fatigue or weight gain, the FIRST thing to do is to make sure you get sweaty and out-of-breath several times a week!
One of the major benefits of meditation is stress relief. In addition, it can lower blood pressure and improve concentration. How do you meditate if no one has ever taught you how?
Meditation is nothing more than breathing and quieting your mind. Some people like to use an outside object to help them focus. Examples include a piece of jewelry or a stone that has meaning to you, or maybe a candle flame. You simply focus your eyes on the object and concentrate on your breathing.
I personally sit quietly in a comfortable chair and close my eyes, concentrating on my slow deep breaths while allowing my mind to relax. If I’m having trouble relaxing my mind I actually visualize my mind as a tightly closed fist. I’ll clench one of my fists in my lap and then SLOOOOOWLY relax it until it’s lying loose, palm-up, on my lap. While I’m relaxing my hand muscle by muscle, it seems to help my mind loosen up too. Usually by the time my hand is fully open, my mind is quiet and open too.
Meditation doesn’t need to take up a long time. Even five or ten minutes is helpful. And just like any other activity the more you practice, the easier and more enjoyable it becomes.
3. DO something!
Stress is very closely linked to fear. Usually when you are under stress it’s because you’re afraid of something. Maybe you’re afraid you won’t get all your work done on time, you won’t have any money left after the bills are paid, or your spouse isn’t happy in your marriage. Lots of things are stressful, and they’re usually driven by fear.
The antidote to fear is ACTION. What stresses you, what scares you? What can you DO about it? If you’re stressed about your workload, take a time management course or speak to your boss about delegating some of your tasks to others. Or just pick the number-one task, turn off all distractions and work on it until it’s done. (Then check it off the list!) Sit down with your budget and pick one expense that you can reduce or eliminate. Talk to your spouse about setting up some special “us” time to work on your relationship.
Don’t just sit there and stress about it! Pick one little (or big) thing and DO it!
Some supplements for stress take time to work. B Complex and St. John’s wort are good examples. (They don’t take long, but at least a few days to a few weeks.) Others take almost no time at all. L-theanine and ashwagandha act very quickly to decrease the symptoms of stress.
You can check my page on stress for more information about the physiology of stress and about the supplements mentioned above.
Many people feel helpless when it comes to stress. You aren’t helpless. You can take control of it and manage it using some fairly simple strategies.
QUESTION: Are you using any of the stress relief techniques discussed above?