FRESH AIR BEATS FIDGETING
FIVE SIMPLE TIPS FOR MANAGING STRESS
Stress is an unfortunate side effect of life, but you don’t have to suffer through it every day. Jason Helfrich, DC, gives five simple tips to help you relax.
No matter what we do or how much we try to avoid it, it seems as though stress has become a constant fixture in many of our lives. However, while many of us knowingly live with stress, one of the biggest issues with this condition is that most people don’t realize just how serious it is.
Just because stress is common doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful and we should just accept it as part of life. Many people only associate stress with the mental and emotional toll that it can take, but stress is able to elicit many physical responses as well. Migraines, joint pain, fatigue, weight loss, lack of sleep, and compromised immune systems are all real and serious side effects of stress. Get rid of the stress and you can easily get rid of some of these serious physical effects. However, eliminating, or at least reducing, stress is often easier said than done. After all, if it were simple to eliminate stress, most of us wouldn’t be so tense and overwhelmed all of the time.
Unfortunately, most people will never be able to completely eradicate stress from their lives—it’s just not how people are wired. But the good news is there are simple ways to manage stress when it does occur, so that it isn’t as consuming and doesn’t lead to serious physical side effects.
I have found there are five main approaches to managing stress that alleviate the severity of this condition and help us deal with everyday stressors. Here is a breakdown of these simple stress management tips.
Practicing meditation is like exercising your mind. If you take the time to really focus on meditating and put effort into this process, you can start training your mind to be stronger and better equipped to handle stress. By working the “muscles” of your mind you can also develop the powerful mental “muscles” of calmness and insight.
When you incorporate meditation into your stress relief routine, you are giving yourself an opportunity to find calm, peace, and balance and can improve both your overall health and your emotional well-being.
For those who are unfamiliar with meditation, the practice is simple. You need to find a space alone, in peace and quiet. Sit in a comfortable but upright position and focus on letting your mind wander until you find that inner peace. Take deep breaths in and out as you do this to help your mind reach a calm state.
If you are new to meditation, there are countless books, videos, audio tapes, and even YouTube clips designed to help people learn the art of relaxation and meditation. Over time, if done correctly, meditation can help your mind not only relax, but grow stronger so it can take on the challenge of overcoming stress.
2. Fresh Air
Spending time outdoors may sound like an overwhelmingly simple approach to managing stress, but it is an effective one. In fact, one of the greatest things about simply going outside to manage stress is that it really works and you can do it virtually any time you need.
When you feel the pressures of stress overwhelming you, step outside. Allow yourself to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the outside world. Take a deep breath in and allow yourself to soak in the world around you. This will help redirect your focus from your worries.
The boost of vitamin D that you get from the sun’s UVB rays (available between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for about half the year in North America) increases the serotonin produced by your body as well. This is the happiness hormone that helps put you in a better mood. Stepping outside is a great start to managing your stress, but if you want to increase its effectiveness, try taking a short walk outdoors. The simple act of walking will help your mind wander away from your stress, while you get the added benefits of exercise and all the beauty the world has to offer.
Speaking of exercise, it is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to relieve stress and to work off the pent up worries you have in your body. So many people find that working out, working hard, and building up a good sweat are some of the best ways to handle stress when it creeps into their lives. The act of working out not only lets you get out your frustrations in strong bursts of action, but exercise also has some scientifically proven effects that can help boost your mood as well.
When you exercise, your body produces feel-good endorphins that put you in a great mood post-workout. These are the endorphins that release the “runner’s high” everyone talks about. However, these endorphins do more than just make you feel good, they actually give you a boost of energy and help regulate your sleep.
Loss of sleep is a serious side effect of stress, as is fatigue. Imagine how much more equipped you would feel to handle the stress in your life if you were in a better mood, had more energy, and got more sleep. Plus, when you release energy through exercise, it leaves you in a state of calm and focus. Try exercising 3 to 5 times a week if you can to keep stress at bay. If your schedule is anything but routine, try to hit the gym whenever you feel as though your daily stress is getting to be too much to handle.
4. Healthy Eating
There are so many of us who feel stressed or overwhelmed and automatically reach for some unhealthy food. Perhaps the rush of sugar makes
us feel better or gives us more energy, or perhaps we justify going through the drive-thru as a time saver that will reduce some of the stress we have that day. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common ways that people deal with stress—and one of the worst.
Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables means that you will not only feel satisfied all day long and have a constant stream of natural energy, but you will also keep your immune system up and running. Eating healthful foods can provide focus and will have you feeling so good, your body won’t be craving that mid-afternoon sugar binge.
Plus, with a better immune system, you are decreasing your chances of getting sick. So many people get sick during or right after the most stressful experiences of their lives. This is because their immune systems are naturally weakened from the stress. If you get sick and have to miss work due to stress, chances are that stress will only increase. Do your body a favor and give it the nutrients it needs to stay as healthy as possible so you can fight off the side effects of stress.
5. Chiropractic Adjustments
While chiropractic care is unable to minimize the stressors of the world, it can do a lot to help the body manage and process stress in a healthy way. Put simply, a chiropractic adjustment normalizes the nervous system by removing harmful subluxations that prevent the nervous system from functioning properly. When the nervous system is working as it should, the whole body is able to work as it should. The nervous system is then able to regulate the levels of adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones) in the body, so you no longer feel that pressure from stress naturally formulating in your body.
Adjustments can also boost your energy and help alleviate stress and fatigue by removing nerve irritation and helping to manage the pain, discomfort, and headaches that often accompany stress.
While stress may inevitably be all around us, the important thing to remember is if you want to put yourself in a better position to handle stress and keep it from taking a toll on your health, then you need to start taking care of your body. The more you care for your body and your mind, the better prepared you will be to manage and handle stress whenever it arises.
Adjustments can also boost your energy and help alleviate stress and fatigue