Feeling stressed? You’re certainly not alone. Stress is a leading cause of illness in the modern world. Find out some easy ways to combat stress in your day to day life here.
In this modern world that we live in, we are faced with stress on a day to day basis. This stress can be mental, emotional, physical or environmental and whether we are aware of the stress placed on our body or not, it still takes a dramatic toll on our overall health and wellbeing. Our system is constantly trying to stay in a state of harmony and equilibrium as we deal with the daily stressors that appear through our day.
The key is to finding ways to balance stress in day-to-day life and develop a tool kit- a series of techniques that can work to bring your body back into balance and alleviate ongoing stress and deterioration.
Stress can be linked to a number of different factors. In the physical body, stress can be from lack of sleep, physical exertion or illness or disease within the body that isn’t given time to heal. Stress within the physical body can also be worsened by diet and nutritional choices- rancid fats, refined sugars, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, meat and excess salt all take their toll on the body’s stress levels.
On a mental or emotional level, stress can be influenced by relationship troubles, displeasure at work, the death of a friend or loved one, caring for someone sick or unwell, moving house, financial concerns, self worth and general contentment with life.
Outside of even your physical or emotional stress is environmental stressors- traffic and vehicle pollution, pesticides, cleaning products, internet connections, electricity currents, body care and perfumes- anything unnatural that creates dis-ease in the body and shakes the foundations of well-being and centered-ness.
All of these stressors can evoke pathophysiologic responses – moving your body’s nervous system from the parasympathetic to the sympathetic state.
The parasympathetic nervous system is often referred to as the resting state. This is where the body exists in a calm and relaxed state and your body is able to spend its energy digesting food and absorbing the nutrients as it passes through the intestines and is eliminated from the body.
The sympathetic nervous system is activated when your body is in an emergency or under stress. Rather than focusing on digestion or maintaining the body’s general homeostasis, the blood flow is diverted to your muscles and brain, so that you are better equipped to deal with the emergency or stressor at hand. The human body needs this response for basic human survival however if it remains in this state over a prolonged period of time it will reach the point of exhaustion.
There are several ways you can begin to notice when your body is in a state of stress and address the issue at hand rather than power on through. Eating well, getting enough sleep, taking time to enjoy things that you love, spending time with friends, exercising- all of these things can help you to keep stress levels in check.
One of the most obvious ways to reduce stress is breathing. When we are children we breathe big, full, deep breaths in our belly which combats stress naturally. Deep breathing can release stored toxins in the body, calm the mind, improve blood flow, improve digestion, relieve pain, release endorphins and switch the body back into a parasympathetic state.
Taking a few moments out of your day to sit and meditate can also work wonders on stress levels on a short and long term basis. Meditation works to clear the mind, lower blood pressure, increase mindfulness, centre the breath and usher in a calming effect on the body and mind.
Herbal Tea is also a wonderful and easy way to reduce stress in the body. Several herbal teas that can help ease anxiety or stress include Lavender, Passionflower, Chamomile, Ginger, Fennel, Nettle, Lemon Balm and Peppermint. Avoiding coffee and caffeinated beverages can make a dramatic difference to stress levels as caffeine raises the adrenals and adds to feelings of stress, anxiety and fatigue in the long run.
Epsom Salt baths and essential oils can be a lovely way to relax and unwind after a long day. Epsom salts help to sooth the muscles and create a relaxed state of mind. For additional benefits, adding essential oils to your bath or simply burning them in the room can have a calming an rejuvenating effect on the body. The best oils to choose from include lavender, ylang ylang, aniseed, chamomile, fennel, thyme, juniper, nutmeg and rosemary.
As for diet, foods that are detoxifying, alkalising, nurturing and nourishing for the body may help to ease stress. A wholefoods diet that eliminates any foods that cause inflammation or an acidic state in the body is best. Some of the best options include fresh juice, organic greens, fresh fruit, salad and vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds, root vegetables, coconut products, probiotic rich foods, lemon, herbal tea, olives, legumes, fibre rich foods, plant based proteins and plenty of water.
Take some time to note your levels of stress over the course of a week or so and monitor how you could benefit by adding some of these simple tips and techniques into your daily life.