In caveman time, the stress response had a positive outcome for our body. It was triggered to protect us from danger. It was “survive or fight”. Now, we are discovering that our mind and body are responding differently to this left over survival mechanism. We are now being affected by stress on a daily basis. In the short term, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but over time chronic stress puts our health and wellbeing at risk.
Here are some daily habits and practices for reducing stress out of your life.
1. Practice Gratitude
Practicing Gratitude allows you to shift your attention from what isn’t working in your life to what is. Be grateful for your health, a delicious meal, your furry friend or the sun shining. Create a sense of gratitude in your heart and experience how your energy shifts. At the end of each day find 3 things you are grateful for and write them down. Take a moment to reflect on them. Observe how feeling gratitude can fill your heart and create a sense of contentment.
Meditation is key to a healthy mind. Spend time allowing your mind and body to switch off from your stressful, busy day. Take time for yourself each day to do a meditation. By giving yourself just 10 minutes will help reduce stress and improve your overall health and well-being. Meditation will help to ease your worries and bring you into the present moment. I recommend 1 Giant Mind.
3. Practice Yoga
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means to unite. It is about the connection of mind, body, breath and movement. Yoga is a combination of asana (postures) and breathing techniques that help you get into a state of relaxation and mediation. Yoga asana increases strength, improves flexibility and helps balance our hormones. Modern research has proven yoga to reduce the stress hormone- cortisol. Having a regular yoga practice helps to reduce stress by making us aware of the ways in which we store, create and perpetuate stress and tension in our physical bodies.
4. Shift Your Perspective
Life is full of ebbs and flows and some experiences can be harder than others. Having an awareness is key to shifting and changing your perspective. The moment you become aware the change has already begun. Begin by identifying the positive in each experience.
In Chinese Medicine, the best sleep is before 10pm. Sleep a minimum of at least 8 hours. Sleep helps restore your body back to its natural state of wellness, balance your hormones and most importantly regulate your circadian rhythm. Hit the pillow early. Adequate sleep helps reduce stress and rejuvenates your mind, body and spirit.
6. Ask for a Hug
Hugging is the BEST and its free. We feel so much joy, happiness and connection when we hug another human being or furry friend. Hugging releases the hormone Oxycontin lowering both our heart rates and cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Seriously if you’re not hugging you’re missing out.
The breath plays an important role and has a powerful influence over our physiological and psychological well-being. Breathing is something we don’t pay a great deal of attention too. In fact, its is an unconscious response we do naturally. At the clinic we teach our patients conscious breathing and conscious awareness; it is a form of mindfulness. Different types of breathing patterns have distinct physiological effects. When we connect to conscious breath, it triggers the physiological response of rest and digest. Everything in the body begins to slow down; our heart rate, our mind, our breathing becomes deeper and consciously we begin to connect into our body. Suddenly, we notice we are in a more relaxed state.
A new study indicates that the mere act of smiling can help us deal with stressful situations more easily. Just moving your muscles into a smile will release the happy hormones called ‘endorphins’ and decrease your stress hormone; cortisol. The next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, simply raise your lips and smile. PS: Did you know smiling is contagious
9. Let it go
We have all heard the song from Frozen “Let it go”. Sometimes letting go can be so hard to do. Once you have surrendered or mastered learning to “Let it go” you will feel a sense of freedom and liberation.
10. Go for a Walk
Walking or any physical exercise helps to reduce stress. When we exercise our body releases potent brain chemicals called endorphins that relieve pain and initiate the relaxation response. Feeding your body with the release of endorphins creates a sense of calm and well-being. Stroll toward relaxation!
By becoming aware of our patterns of stress it can allow us to identify its source and ultimately we can begin to eliminate these stressful situations, behaviours, and conditions out of our lives. “We can all do with a little less stress”.