Ten Tips for De-stressing

Stress! We have all experienced stress in our life time. But when stress starts to overload the body; causing anxiety, fear, compulsions, and hopelessness amongst many others, stress is not something you can just get over. It starts to consume your life. Seventy to ninety percent of physician visits are stress related. So, the best way to prevent a long list of illnesses to occur we need to learn to de-stress our bodies.

 Recognise the Signs

Do not underestimate stress. We can become so accustomed to stress, we don’t realise the effect it is having. Keep a stress diary to record how you are feeling. Take time to sit and think about what you are experiencing.

Certain habits can creep up on you without you realising what they actually are:

Nervous habits – chewing tongue, tapping fingers or biting nails

Muscles tightening – stiffening of the neck and back, clenching of the jaw

Appetite changes – either decreased or increased appetite

Reoccurring negative thoughts – I can’t do this, what if…?

Deactivate the alarms, don’t get used to it, do something about it.

2. Food is the key to the soul.

Food for some is used in times of stress, but what about using the food to help with reducing stress. You don’t have to overindulge in unhealthy eating to feel better; in fact, Author David Ludwig, MD stated that “you can get off the carb/stress/carb rollercoaster by eating high-fibre, low-sugar foods.”

Apricots are rich in amino acids, tryptophan, Vitamins A and C, carotenoids, fibre and potassium. Tryptophan gets converted by the body into serotonin, lifting your mood, improving self-esteem, helping you sleep, increasing energy levels and helping to control impulsive behaviour.

Bananas also contain tryptophan and Vitamin B6 to reduce fatigue, replacing nutrients that are depleted when stressed.

Asparagus has a good supply of  B vitamins that help to keep energy levels high and supports mental and emotional health.

Avocado contains tryptophan, vitamin B6 and folic acid to increase the levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin. .

      “Getting ease with Bs”.

Jacques Duff, a behavioural psychologist says that Vitamin B is “used in the stress response, hence the perception that Vitamin B reduces stress.” However, results have differed.

Dr Joe Tecce, PhD, a neuropsychologist researched the benefits of the B vitamins. In his research foods such as bananas, potatoes and prunes, along with a B Complex vitamin showed reduced levels of stress.

In other studies, participants haven’t noticed a difference.

The jury is still out on Vitamin B complex, but whether or not they help with stress, they are still a worthy vitamin to consider.

Changing from Negative to Positive.

Negative thinking results in negative responses. You think something bad is going to happen, it probably will. Instead focus on turning a bad situation into something productive. Take the example of Pollyanna. Try to find something glad in every situation.

“I’ve worked so hard all week, I’m bone tired, but at least I can enjoy a long lie-in and a pamper weekend to rejuvenate.”

It can take time to have this kind of attitude, but slowly converting negative thinking to positive thinking will help you to appreciate what you have. Instead of ‘I can’t’, think ‘I’ll give anything a go’.

     Get more than six hours of sleep.

Sleep is essential in enabling the body and mind to cope. A lack of sleep not only causes us to become more irritable and fatigued, but our neurons and cells will be unable to regenerate and repair, resulting in a range of problems, including increased levels of stress.

Keeping a sleep schedule; creating an environment that is relaxing; doing something before bedtime to relax you, like a warm bath or easy stretches; having a balanced diet without large amounts of fat and caffeine; exercise regularly, and focusing on relaxing rather than going to sleep are just a few ways to establish a good sleep routine.

6. Get moving.

Exercise could be one of the most important ways to de-stress. It burns off excess adrenaline, relieves tension to promote relaxation, improves sleep and releases the feel-good hormonal endorphins everyone wants to experience. It will also release any pent-up frustration and anger. Exercise that comprises both mental and physical agility, like kick-boxing routines, is an effective way of taking your mind off what is happening, and taking it out in your work-out.

In addition, exercise helps you to deal with things more productively. There is nothing like completing a tough workout to burn off any bad feelings you may have.

7. Take time to Breath.

Over half of the population do not take the time to breathe properly. Correct breathing brings fresh oxygen into your brain and lungs making you feel refreshed. Sue Cleland who runs the anxiety recovery programme teaches the importance of proper diaphragm breathing. Ensuring the levels of CO2 and oxygen remain balanced.

Either sitting or standing, take a long inhalation, allowing your ribcage to expand, your stomach to relax. Hold for a couple of seconds, then slowly release, gently pulling your stomach muscles in to expel the air fully from your stomach. Placing your hands on your belly when you are performing these exercises also aids in the relaxation.

 

       Stretch it Out

Yoga can complement any exercise regime. At least once a week, take the time to go to a yoga class, or buy a yoga DVD. Dr Andrew Brett and Andrea Carson claim that “Yoga is terrific … to slow down your breathing and relax.”

Stress can build up a significant amount of tension in the muscles, yoga helps you to focus on relieving the tension. Teaching exercises that can be done at any time of the day.

9. Try aromatherapy.

Many people may think that essential oils are expensive, and only a professional can use them. It is wise to talk to an aroma therapist about the benefits of the different oils and which ones are good to blend with. Once you are armed with that you will be able to make a blend to suit your needs.

Oils can be used in burners, candles, ceramic ring, compresses, on the skin, dry inhalation on a handkerchief, facial steamer, foot spa, fragrance bowl, hair care products, humidifier, in the bath, in the car, inhalation directly from the bottle, massage, ointment, and potpourri, in a bowl in the sauna, skin care products and tea infusions. Many of these methods can either be brought with oils included, or you add a couple of drops to whatever you want.

Bergamot, Geranium and Ylang Ylang or Frankincense is a fail-proof  blend mixed with Grapeseed oil or Sweet Almond oil. Buy a dropper bottle and fill it with the carrier oil, mixing in 3-6 drops of each essential oil. This blend can be used for massage or in the bath. An alternative is just to place a couple of drops of each essential oil into a method of your choosing.

10. Comfort is the answer.

I am not talking about comfort food here. I am talking about things that provide comfort to you when you feel stressed and may go to without realising it. Petting a dog or cat has proven to release those feel-good hormones, making you feel relaxed and calmer. Watching a funny movie or reading a book can take your mind of things, as well as giving you a time-out. Talking on the phone with a friend, cooking, going shopping or out to a restaurant or movie theatre are all ways to take your mind of things and enjoy the present. Being around people that are not stressed or handle stress reasonable well will be better for you than highly-strung people. They not only will provide a calmer environment, but may be able to offer some tips of reducing stress levels as well.

Indulging every now and then in a glass of wine or that extra piece of chocolate will not harm you in any way. But the first step is not to reach for those things that provide you with temporary relief, but start on a plan to reduce overall stress. Recognising when you might need a break, learning to say no, doing something for yourself need not to make you feel guilty. If you cope better with stress, then how much more productive you can be in everything you do.

Sources:

 

Sleeping Better, Accessed 13/07/11, www.helpguide.org

Recognising Signs, Accessed 13/07/11, www.diy-stress-relief.com

Symptoms of stress, Accessed 13/07/11, www.symptoms-of-stress.com

Nerys Purchon, Essential Oils for stress and relaxation, The Essential Natural Health Bible

Janet Wright, Stress, The Top 100 Health Tips

David Lake, Stress, Good Medicine Big Health Book

Selene Yeager, Stress- Getting Ease with the Bs, The Doctors Book of Food Remedies

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