Stress Management Techniques
No one likes feeling stressed out, a natural response to feeling overwhelmed is to form habits to help us cope, such as watching television, eating chocolate or drinking a glass of wine. You may have noticed what happens with your energy, cravings, mood, food, and sleep when you are stressed. How does your eating habits change when stressed? These habits may help relax us in the moment but do little to benefit us long-term.
There is no shortage of stress in daily life, and the demands can contribute to emotional unrest and tension. You can feel stressed by external situation (too much work, children misbehaving, your flight is delayed, your boss gives you a tight deadline and you try to juggle all your responsibilities) and by internal triggers (the way you think about external situations, you may feel under pressure to do something and fear you may fail). The more important the outcome, the more stressed you will feel, and you may have reached your limit.
What does stress do to your mind and body?
Stress may also contribute to physical changes within the body that can have long-lasting effects. Ongoing stress sets off a series of hormonal reactions that can contribute to inflammation, irritability, anger, cravings, weight gain, addictions, insomnia, chronic disease, other mental health issues such as anxiety, and depression.
Stress has two main components – thinking and feeling, which can affect your mood and behaviour, and lead to poor concentration, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, apathy, hopelessness.
The thinking part of stress can lead to negative thoughts, such as “I can’t cope with this”, or “I can’t do this, it’s too much”.
Meanwhile, the physical (or feeling) part of stress sees your body go into ‘fight or flight’ mode, which is essentially your body preparing you to respond quickly to a perceived threat.
While you’re experiencing physical stress, your heart rate increases, muscles tense and the nervous system kicks in releasing hormones like cortisol, which is a steroid hormone released by the adrenal gland primarily during times of stress.
Stress management techniques
If you are suffering from stress, the best thing you can do break the vicious negative cycle is to try to handle those stressful times with as much knowledge, awareness, gentleness, and patience. Knowing what your internal alarm bells are, is important so we can recognise when we are feeling the pressure and increase our stress strategies.
Although you can’t avoid all stress in your life, you can start to reduce its detrimental effects by building resilience and learning how to improve your body’s natural state of balance, and prevent chronic illness. The way to improve tolerance to stress is by creating a stress toolbox.
Nutrition, diet, herbal medicine, mind- body therapies and natural healing can support the treatment of stress and the contributing health conditions and can make a difference in your life.
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How do you respond to stress?
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Stress Management Toolbox
The best stress management techniques engage a person holistically, focusing on all the physical, emotional and spiritual components.
Diet: Making simple diet changes, such as reducing your alcohol, caffeine and sugar intake is a proven way of reducing stress. By eating high-quality super-foods, including herbs, spices, vegetables and seeds will reduce inflammation in the body.
Gut repair: Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, noted “all disease begins in the gut”. Research since the early 1900’s has shown that our gut flora performs pivotal roles in mental health, metabolism, nutrient digestion, absorption and synthesis, as well as immune function, hormonal regulation and disease prevention.
Exercise: Reduces stress and increases serotonin to elevate your mood, go outside in the garden, and take a walk in nature.
Herbal medicine: Plants that we know as ‘adaptogens’ were first used in Ayurveda (India) and in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and help to restore the nervous system.
Meditation: Studies show just 10-minutes daily has significant benefits. Mindfulness meditation has three basic principles: intention, attention and attitude. Focusing on the present moment in a nonjudgmental and accepting way has been proven to dramatically reduce stress and inflammation while increasing feelings of hope, overall well-being, and an increased sense of spiritual connectedness.
Breathing exercises: Respiratory rhythm directly affects the central nervous system, by regulating the breath it decreases stress, I recommend using an app, such as calm.
Sleep: A good night’s sleep is fundamental for recharging and dealing with stressful situations.
Self-care: Prioritise activities and hobbies that you feel are expansive, where you learn and grow.
Affirmation: Try “I am relaxed and calm” or “in this moment I am safe”.
Gratitude practice: Journal 5 things you are grateful for daily
Celebrate the small things: Turn the big goals in to several smaller ones and celebrate the daily wins.
Our Articles on Stress Management
Alkymia has a great range of articles on Stress Management.