Stress, stress, stress.
It's a part of life but it doesn't need to be a way of life.
What I mean is, we all are going to experience stress during our lives in different shapes, forms and intensities, but it's ultimately how we handle the stress as it comes that determines how it impacts our health.
So, how do we help to manage stress and mitigate it's potential negative effects? Here are 5 tools that may help.
1. Breathing exercises:
There are soooo many great breathing techniques out there that are great for both in the moment of stress as well as to set the tone for the day or help us decompress from the day. Some examples;
Belly breathing : shown in video
Box breathing : breathing in for four counts, hold for four, exhale for four, hold for four, repeat.
Physiological sigh: take two quick inhales through the nose, followed by one long exhale through the mouth, repeat 3-5 times.
2. Spend time in nature:
Did you know that being in nature can positively impact your wellbeing? Research has shown that it can help reduce levels of adrenaline, cortisol, feelings of anxiety and depression and can improve our focus. Even just 15 minutes can help so consider stopping by a safe park on your way home from work, really take in your surroundings and observe what's around you. It's a good time to put the phone away and just enjoy where you're at. (Extra health bonuses if you go for a walk and with friends/loved ones!)
3. Time with friends and loved ones:
Community is one of the biggest impacts on our longevity and levels of happiness. It's important to build relationships that are supportive and nurturing, that way when we are in a time of stress, we can have people to turn to whether that's just having someone to chat with or someone to spend time with. Remember that relationships of all kinds take effort and work both ways, so we need to nurture these relationships over time. We also need to consider the other person's ability to help at that give time we are reaching out, we can do this by simply asking if they have the space to listen before we unload our stressors onto them. That means being okay if they are not able to listen at that time, but don't lose hope if that's the case, turn to another tool for the time being or ask another friend or loved one.
4. Move your body:
Body movement and exercise have been shown to help improve our mental wellbeing. It also helps to support our nervous system, cardiovascular system, immune system (basically everything haha) which are greatly taxed during stressful times. So take 15-30 minutes to move your body in a way that feels good to you; dance, yoga, taichi, swimming, walking, basketball, whatever it may be for you. Aim for 3-5 times a week.
There are many forms of journaling and there's no right or wrong way to do it. Two forms that I often suggest are:
Brain dumping: Grab a pen and piece of paper/notebook. Set your timer for 5-10 minutes. Write down any thoughts that come to your mind without judgement, just an unedited free-flow of whatever comes up. This gives us much needed time and space to decompress.
Gratitude journaling: write down 5-10 things that you are grateful for. These could be anything from having food in the fridge, shoes on your feet, a roof over your head to a loved one or experience you had today. Big or small. Showing gratitude allows us to remember all that we truly have and step out of the negative thought traps. What are you grateful for?
Dr. Kierstin, ND, LAc
P.S. If you're looking for added support in your health journey, let's chat. I work 1:1 with people to help them get clarity on their goals, review labs, discuss nutrition and supplement options and create a plan of action. Simply start with a free intro call to see how we can work together here.