These days, we all have stress (or more accurately we all struggle with “stressors,” daily life events that cause anxiety, confusion or fear). Researchers tell us that chronic stress (again more accurately, chronic stress defined as “an inability to manage, resolve and appropriately deal with stressors in an efficient manner”). The experience of stress is literally caused by having more life stressors than you have strategies to manage without allowing stressful circumstances to impact your health, mood and activities or relationships) speeds up the aging process, is strongly related to common diseases of civilization – like heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Plus chronic, unmanaged stress accelerates the age process (Need proof? Check out this link: Stress Aging Connection at Prevention.com). Plus, feeling constantly stressed out is just REALLY uncomfortable.
So we all need to beef up our stress management strategies. Fortunately, scientists are also motivated to find stress tonics that provide relief quickly. Check out the list below from Stop Stress Now – Web MD and the added links to help you out along the mindfulness journey.
10 Ways to Stop Stress in Its Tracks
1. Put Stress in Its Place
How you handle stress makes a big difference in how you feel. It might even help your blood pressure, blood sugar level, and the rest of you. Use these calming strategies to stop stress ASAP.
2. Break Out the Bubble Gum
Next time you’re at the end of your rope, unwrap a stick of gum. According to studies, chewing gum lowers anxiety and eases stress. Some researchers think the rhythmic act of chewing may improve blood flow to your brain, while others believe the smell and taste help you relax.
3. Go Outside
Spending time outdoors, even close to home, is linked to better well-being. You’re in a natural setting, and you’re usually doing something active, like walking or hiking. Even a few minutes can make a difference in how you feel.
4. Smile Like You Mean It
Don’t roll your eyes the next time someone advises you to “grin and bear it.” In times of tension, keeping a smile on your face – especially a genuine smile that’s formed by the muscles around your eyes as well as your mouth – reduces your body’s stress responses, even if you don’t feel happy. Smiling also helps lower heart rates faster once your stressful situation ends.
5. Sniff Some Lavender
Certain scents like lavender may soothe. In one study, nurses who pinned small vials of lavender oil to their clothes felt their stress ease, while nurses who didn’t felt more stressed. Lavender may intensify the effect of some painkillers and anti-anxiety medications, so if you’re taking either, check with your doctor before use. (I love lavender essential oils which are reasonably priced at Amazon.com ).
6. Tune In
Heading into a stressful situation? Music can help you calm down. In one study, people had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol when they listened to a recording of Latin choral music before doing something stressful (like doing math out loud or giving a speech) than when they listened to a recording of rippling water.
7. Reboot Your Breath
Feeling less stressed is as close as your next breath. Focusing on your breath curbs your body’s “fight or flight” reaction to pressure or fear, and it pulls your attention away from negative thoughts. Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting your chest and lower belly rise and your abdomen expand. Breathe out just as slowly, repeating a word or phrase that helps you relax. To reap benefits, practice abdominal breathing for at least 10 minutes per day. Need help getting started? Check out this list of best smart phone apps: Best Cell Phone Apps for Meditation & Mindfulness or invest in the amazingly fabulous Heart Math cell phone attachment. Link: Inner Balance from Heath Math (P.S. health professionals receive discounted prices on starter packages).
8. Be Kind to Yourself
We all have a constant stream of thoughts running through our heads, and sometimes what we tell ourselves isn’t so nice. Staying positive and using compassionate self-talk will help you calm down and get a better grip on the situation. Talk to yourself in the same gentle, encouraging way you’d help a friend in need. “Everything will be OK,” for instance, or “I’ll figure out how to handle this.”
9. Write Your Stress Away
Jotting down your thoughts can be a great emotional outlet. Once they’re on paper, you can start working out a plan to resolve them. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer pen and notebook, a phone app, or a file on your laptop. The important thing is that you’re honest about your feelings.
10. Tell a Friend
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek out the company of a friend or loved one. Have a friend who’s dealing with the same worries as you? Even more reason to open up. You’ll both feel less alone. (Feeling some sort of way about laying your fears and stressors on a friend at 3 o’clock in the morning? Check out this super cool site which allows you to vent anonymously online to a caring and supportive stranger for FREE: Blah Therapy ).
Wishing you peace, joy and happy stress management my lovelies!