Do you feel like stress is the new norm?
Are you living for the weekends only to find that you’re too tired to enjoy them?
Do you hold a sense of angst or tension in your body?
Stress is like a bad credit card debt, ignore it and it will eventually bankrupt your mind and body
Sounds a little dramatic I know, however let’s remember what stress actually is.
Prior to becoming part of our day-to-day conversations, the term “stress” was used by engineers to explain forces that can put strain on a structure. They acknowledged that too much stress would eventually damage or collapse the structure.
Ladies that structure is your body!
Yes as humans we are built to handle a certain amount of stress, however our stress response mechanism (know as the fight flight response) is intended for short quick bursts of stress like running from a bear to safety.
These days we are in constant stress; work deadlines, traffic jams, money issues, running late, relationship problems. Not to mention the stressful thoughts we think such as am I good enough? Is my boyfriend cheating on me? I feel stuck in a rut and so on.
The most alarming fact is our nervous system cannot tell the difference between perceived danger or real danger.
This means the stress response is triggered approximately 50% of the day from perceived danger or negative thoughts in our heads.
How can I tell if I have too much stress in my life?
Stress affects both your body and mind.
4 key signs you have too much stress
include: sleeping problems, aching muscles, don’t feel like sex, digestive issues (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation), sniffles, flu and tummy bugs.
include: moodiness, irritability, old emotional hurts, agitated, fearful, angry, short tempered, you worry more, feel anxious, overwhelmed, you feel like you are in survival mode, alone or isolated.
have changed. You find it harder to concentrate and focus at a task, trouble making decisions, you have a more negative outlook on life.
have changed. You may find you sleep or eat more (or less), you procrastinate or find it hard to deal with life’s responsibilities. You may be using alcohol to relax.
If you can relate to 3 or more of these signs you should actively seek to reduce your stress levels.
9 nifty ways to reduce stress
Shrink the stress bucket
Make a list of all the things that cause you stress. From the list identify the things you have no control over like a mortgage and cross them off the list. There is no point wasting energy on things that are not within your power.
Turn on the relaxation response
Commit to a weekly relaxation practice. You could try yoga, tai chi, dancing, pilates, laughing at a funny movie with a girlfriend or meditation class.
Make sure you are in bed by 10pm at least 3-4 nights a week. Your body rejuvenates and cleans itself from 10pm to 2am so you don’t want to miss the start of this cycle.
Say NO (and yes to you)
Reduce the commitments in your life, be aware of you limits. Don’t take on things that are not 100% essential or that don’t feel quiet right.
Breathe properly and purposefully. Make sure to breath out as well as in, this tricks the nervous system into the relaxation response.
Avoid coffee or stimulants
Coffee increases the adrenaline (stress response) the very hormone you are looking to decrease. Ladies is you are addicted to chocolate like I am, try a good quality chocolate of 70% cocoa or above and limit yourself to two squares a day.
Herbs for stress
Herbs that calm include passionflower, St. John’s wort, kava, oats, damiana, and chamomile. Those that reduce the effects of stress on the body include Licorice, Siberian ginseng, rhodiola and withania.
Get your mind off the problem, it’s not going anywhere, but you can. Think about something that makes you feel good, take the dog for a walk, or put on your favourite song.