10 simple steps you can begin today to destress your life!
Stress affects all of us, and it’s a normal and healthy response to the challenges that lead us to learn, grow and reach our highest potential.
However, when stress becomes too intense, chronic and unmanaged, it can have a seriously negative impact on our health and wellbeing, and hinder our progress in all areas of life.
Spending too much time with our nervous system in this state can lead to poor digestion, insomnia, chronic conditions like hypertension and headaches, as well as mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Too much stress can also worsen any existing conditions.
Fortunately, managing stress can be much easier than we often expect. To reduce stress, it makes sense to increase relaxation - right?
Just as we have a stress response, or ‘flight or flight,’ we also have a relaxation response, known as ‘rest and digest.’ In this state, our bodies prioritise blood flow to our internal organs, our breathing and heart rate slow, our blood pressure drops, and we even use less oxygen - all to help us relax and heal.
There are many simple ways to engage the relaxation response and reduce stress. Here are 10 of our favourites!
1. Get a massage
Is there anything more relaxing than getting a massage? What’s really cool, is that there are so many different styles of massage, and some may suit your needs more than others.
Ka Huna Massage is an interesting technique, which actively works on the physical, emotional and spiritual bodies at the same time. The focus is to shift blockages that manifest as physical issues, such as muscle knots and other ailments in muscles, bones and meridians.
While stress is usually perceived as a mental challenge, it’s important to remember that body, mind and spirit are all connected.
2. Listen to music
When it comes to reducing stress, music works like magic. We all know that listening to our favourite tunes can help us get through difficult times, but music has actually been shown to stimulate our brainwaves to resonate with the beat, initiating the relaxation response throughout the entire body.
No wonder music is must-have on a stressful commute!
3. Learn to say ‘no’
We often become stressed because we take on more than we can handle. Be honest with yourself and others about how much downtime you really need. Whether your social calendar is the source of feeling overwhelmed, you’re taking too many classes, or you’ve taken on too many projects at work - it’s always ok to say ‘no.’
Instead, say ‘yes’ to self-care, and schedule yourself some downtime.
Generally, this practice involves keeping a diary to explore and clarify the thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life.
Be sure to spend time during your journaling sessions to exploring the positives, as well as the problems. This is a perfect opportunity to incorporate a gratitude practice, which is another simple tool for stress relief.
Not only does meditation provide immediate relief from stress, it also allows us to develop long-term stress management skills with consistent practice.
There are many different forms of meditation to try, and each one is unique and brings its own appeal. Here are some of the most popular, effective and enjoyable meditation techniques to reduce stress.
Yoga is a mind-body practice, bringing together physical and mental disciplines aimed at finding peace. Not only does yoga improve our balance, flexibility and strength, it also enhances our mood and overall sense of wellbeing. While there a number of different styles and intensities, Yoga involves connecting the breath with mindful movement to go through a series of poses.
Like meditation, one yoga session brings immediate stress relief, but continued and consistent practice brings a greater resilience to stress.
7. Colour, craft, or create
Something we knew instinctively as children, is that using art to express our creative side helps us get in touch with our emotions and reduces our stress levels.
Even if you don’t consider yourself, ‘artistically inclined,’ getting creative with colour and craft is a valuable way to pass the time.
This is because creating art helps us step into the present moment, and take our minds away from whatever has been causing us stress. Here are some great ideas for DIY Art Therapy.
8. Make your home a sanctuary
Your home should be your special place where you feel emotionally safe and secure, as well as a place that you can leave all the stress from the outside world at the door.
There are three main ways to ensure your home is a place of calming, positive energy.
Firstly, invest in an essential oils diffuser, because aromatherapy has the amazing power to chase away negative energy and bring peace.
Secondly, reduce the clutter in your home by giving away items you haven’t used in a year, and make sure that all remaining belongings have their special place. And thirdly, bring nature into your home. Consider getting some table-top water, always allow the natural light to come in, and remember - one can never have too many indoor plants.
9. Move your body
Whether you deadlift twice your body weight, or prefer long walks and gentle stretching, moving your body each day is essential for stress management.
Not only does exercise decrease cortisol and increase endorphins (the feel-good hormones), it can also be an outlet for frustration and a great distraction.
Becoming physically stronger can also help you make gains in mental strength, which means you’ll be more resilient and less likely to be overwhelmed in stressful situations.
10. Nourish your body well
To reduce stress, it’s so important to eat in a way that cultivates our body’s natural state of balance. Adding Maca Powder to smoothies is a great option for stress management, as Maca contains selenium and potassium, which help to support energy production, and has been traditionally used to balance hormones and moods.
Immunity Powder is another great addition to smoothies, as it is very high in vitamin C, which is one the top stress-fighting micronutrients.
When it comes to deciding what to eat, always opt for plant-based whole foods. These foods generally reduce the stress placed on our digestive systems and keep the delicate balance of hormones in check. Here are the top five plant-based foods to beat stress.
Our body’s reaction to stress is instant and unconscious, so we can’t always control the things that cause us stress. However, we do have the power to manage and reduce that stress when it comes.
It’s important to become familiar with the signs that you’re struggling with too much stress, whether it’s an increased heart rate, feeling sick and exhausted, or losing the ability to concentrate - it will be different for everyone.
This list of 10 ways to reduce stress is intended to be versatile - so you can pick and choose the tools and techniques which best suit you and your circumstances!