Do you need to take steps to relieve stress?
Have you noticed yourself feeling fatigued, waking up tired, not sleeping well, lacking enthusiasm for life, lacking motivation at work, experiencing headaches, feeling irritated & lacking patience with colleagues or your kids?
These could all be signs that you’re experiencing unhealthy levels of stress.
What is stress?
We can define stress as: ‘a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.’
Some stress can actually improve our focus and performance but the cumulative effects of stress from different areas of our life can make you feel overwhelmed.
Stress is one of those insidious things that builds up without you realising just how much it’s impacting your mental health & wellbeing. You may notice yourself not coping with situations and experiences that would normally be no trouble for you.
Prolonged low-level stress has a compounding effect and can lead to poor workplace performance, relationship strain and/or physical pain & disease.
Causes of stress
There are a number of different sources of stress – emotional, physical and mental – and it is often the combined effect that pushes us beyond our limits and causes the problems.
At a personal level, stress can come from personality type, genetic predispositions, unresolved trauma, nutrition, lifestyle choices, dental health and body weight.
Externally, stress can come from workload, authoritarian workplaces, workplace injury, overuse of chemicals in cleaning products and the food chain, climate and season changes, pollution, bombardment of electromagnetic fields, cultural beliefs, social comparison, religious doctrine, accident, death and family life.
Generally speaking in our modern lives we are often burning the candle at both ends and dropping a ball more than we’d like to when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle balance.
Signs and symptoms of stress
- Mood swings, temper flare-ups, feeling irritable
- Tension & conflict in relationships at work and at home
- Have to push yourself to do things you normally enjoy doing
- Memory issues, procrastination, difficulty concentrating
- Lack patience and are less mindful of what you say or how you speak to others
- Lack appetite for food, sex and fun
- Lethargic, pessimistic and/or overwhelmed
- Nail biting, smoking, eating more or less than usual
Physical stress symptoms include:
- Headaches, migraine, head tension
- Fatigue, sleep issues, nightmares
- Immune system compromised – more colds and flu
- Chest pain, high blood pressure, heart palpitations
- Tight muscles, backaches, neck and shoulder pain, jaw tension, grinding teeth
- Weight gain, constipation, stomach cramps, bloating
- Adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances, irregular menstruation
How to relieve stress
There is no one cure-all for relieving stress, especially as we all have different ways of coping with stress and different sources of stress. However, here are some common and effective ways you can de-stress your mind and body.
Please keep in mind that what works for others may not work for you, so the best thing to do is to experiment and see which ones are the most effective for you.
You don’t need to head to the gym for this. Instead, you can just go for a quick walk for 20-30 minutes – something is better than nothing. If you don’t have the time, you can do push-ups, skipping or stretches throughout your day. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help relieve stress and anxiety. If you get a sweat up it will also help to detoxify your body.
Listen to an uplifting song
Spend a few minutes listening to your favourite music to help calm your mood or re-energise you. Try different playlists on Spotify to help boost your mood.
Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress. A few minutes of laughter can help decrease stress hormones, and can greatly lighten your mood. Spend time playing with your kids, watch comedy tv shows and movies, listen to your favourite comedian, and spend time with family and friends who make you laugh.
Connection with a loved one
Having a quick lunch with a friend, a phone conversation with your significant other, or a few minutes cuddling with your pet can help keep your mind off stress and calm your nervous system. Sometimes, all we need is support and a reassuring voice to help us cope.
Eat healthy food
A proper diet can help reduce symptoms of stress and keep you focused and energised. Often when we’re stressed we crave sweet, fatty and starchy foods. Unfortunately, this might offer some short-te
rm relief but will put your body under more stress long term.
Take slow, deep breaths
Generally speaking we shorten our breath when we’re stressed. We also tend to only breathe into the upper part
of the lungs too. The oxygen supply to your body will be reduced and will contribute to you feeling foggy and lethargic.
One of the fastest and easiest ways to help you cope with stress is to take 3-5 slow, deep breaths allowing your belly to expand. Try to breathe in for the count of 4 and out for the count of 6 and say ‘relax’ out loud or in your mind with each out breath.
Enjoy an Epsom salt bath
Sometimes we need to relax our mind and body at the same time. An Epsom salt bath is a great way to de-
stress and detoxify your system. Use 1-2 cups of Epsom salts, 1-2 cups of baking soda, and 2-5 drops of relaxing Young Living essential oils, such as lavender, geranium, frankincense or ylang ylang.
Improve your sleeping habits
Stress can make us lose sleep, and losing sleep can make us feel the effects of stress even more deeply – it’s a vicious cycle! One way to ensure that you get a good night’s rest is by keeping your bedroom free of gadgets, and keeping it dark and cool.
If you have trouble falling asleep, try the Epsom salt bath before bed or lie on your back with your legs straight up a wall and enjoy some deep breathing for a few minutes. It will help to calm your nervous system.
You can learn to fully optimise your sleep with sleep expert Dr Michael Breus – watch here.
Stress is an insidious ‘disease’ and the cumulative effects are not good. It’s important to identify and understand your stressors, modify your lifestyle to reduce stress, and work out the most effective ways for you to relieve stress.
We all know that our bodies, relationships and performance will suffer and life’s not much fun if we’re stressed all the time. In fact, stress is now recognised as the number one cause of disease in the western world.
Furthermore, not learning how to relieve stress can lead to anxiety becoming your new ‘normal.’
So please be pro-active in managing stress.