Stress is the intensity of how you believe you can cope with an identified threat. It isn’t your actual ability to cope but your perception of your ability to cope. Stress becomes a problem when you think you can’t cope well with a perceived threat.
Mild stress can be used to inspire you, build motivation and encourage you to press forward in spite of obstacles. Some stress is needed for energy, courage and triumph; to win, such as in sports events and games. It can help a mother lift a car off her child or assist an emergency room nurse to do her job speedily and accurately. Another kind of stress is the big malady of our day. It builds up over time due to worry and fear and leads to physical and emotional disease.
Last time, my article “How to Relieve Stress for Life” reviewed things you can do to protect yourself from the harmful side effects of stress. The goal is to manage your response to the bombardment of stressors in daily life. You cannot avoid the stressors, but you can cope with them differently by altering your perception of them. One way to begin is to heal your nervous system so it isn’t on high alert. Instead, it can be in a state of balance and calm that is easily returned to after surprising news or a particularly stressful time.
- Your body and mind want a rhythm. To create one, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. You will feel more peaceful, serene, and competent during the day.
- Give yourself additional time to do things. Allow extra time for getting to a meeting, going to the store, driving through traffic, completing a project, even eating. Move more slowly. Give yourself the gift of free time and a few unscheduled moments. There is enough time in the day for this.
- After a particularly stress-filled day, take a 20-minute bath to which you add 2-4 cups Epsom salts and 8-10 drops pure lavender oil. The salts pull toxins out of you and leave your muscles relaxed. The lavender will ease your mind. Drink extra water afterward to rehydrate.
- Do you have a crazy schedule filled to the brim? This is a form of self-abuse with all sorts of underlying causes. Write down all the things you “need” to do so they are not swirling in your head. Then, don’t do some of them. You will find the world keeps on turning, all by itself.
- Know what you can and cannot do to maintain a balanced life. Say no to requests that eat up your time. Liberate yourself from the madness by utilizing one of your first spoken words: “No.”
- Drink chamomile tea instead of coffee. Yes! Switch to herb tea. Coffee adds stress by giving you the illusion of more energy while you become more depleted. Eventually your body will present its bill for the abuse and the price will be high. If you are tired, rest more and have a naturopath help you heal your adrenals. A balanced person doesn’t need a stimulant to get started.
- Try Rescue Remedy, a Bach Flower remedy that can be found at any natural food store. Place a few drops in a glass of water, directly under your tongue, or get the spray version. Its blend of five healing flower essences are well-known for reducing stress and alleviating shock and trauma.
- Hyland’s Calms Forte is a homeopathic remedy for relaxation found at any natural food store. Homeopathy has been widely researched for effectiveness. This particular blend relieves anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
- Pay attention to the needs of your body. Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole food. Inquire about “adaptogens” which help the nervous system adapt to stress. My favorite is Ashwaganda. Studies have been conducted on the efficacy of this herb for the past 50 years, but it has been in use for many centuries.
- Train your mind toward an uplifting world view. Refuse to get on board with the negative thinkers. Smile more. When a lemon is thrown your way, you know what to do with it.
- Connect with nature by walking in a park, sitting amongst trees or getting your hands in the earth through gardening. Our disconnection from nature is part of the reason we find ourselves in such a high-stress culture.
- Stress and slow breathing cannot exist at the same time. Whatever shocks or troubles life brings, breathe calmly through it.
– Christina Grant, Ph.D.