Three Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress... it is that annoying friend that just won't go away. We know it is bad for us. We know there are health consequences that come with it, yet we continue to find ourselves in situations (planned or unplanned) that stress us out.
I imagine most of us are in a place of uncertainty right now. Most people are creatures of habit (myself included). When things go my way I feel in control. It is when life throws me a curve ball... AKA COVID-19, that I feel anxious and stressed.
I have been researching a few topics lately. Why some people are able to set and achieve goals. Why some people are flexible, go with the flow people and others shine in a more rigid environment. How people react to uncertainty and stressful situations.
Not to my surprise, research shows that people react differently to uncertainty. Those with a higher intolerance for uncertainty may be more prone to low mood, negative mindset, and anxiety.
No one can avoid the uncertainty. It will follow you the rest of your life. Your power lies in your ability to "self soothe". Can you find ways to calm yourself down when the world as you know it is changing by the hour? That is what I hope you will learn from the simple tips below.
Music can have a profound effect on your emotions and your body. Researchers at Stanford University have said that "listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication." They noted that music is something that almost anybody can access and makes it an easy stress reduction tool.
What type of music is best for reducing stress?
Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes are very effective at relaxing the mind. Sounds of rain, thunder, and nature sounds may also be relaxing particularly when mixed with other music, such as light jazz, classical and easy listening music. This explains the random nature sounds on my kids sound machines in their rooms.
How do you choose the relaxation music that is best for you?
I use the Keep it simple stupid method. You must first like the music being played, and then it must relax you. You will know when you hear it if it relaxes you or pumps you up.
*It is important to remember that quieting your mind does not mean you will feel sleepy. It means your brain and body are relaxed, and with your new calm mind, you can then function at your best.
If essential oils are new to you, read this article to get a good grasp on what they are and how they work.
When I am feeling stressed or agitated, I always reach for lavender, peace and calming or frankincense to diffuse in the room I am sitting in. After a few minutes of smelling and a few deep breaths, I am able to collect my thoughts and regain my focus.
3. DEEP BREATHING
You have probably heard me talk about this a million times, but I am bringing it up again because it is so powerful. Many people do not breath properly. Normal breathing involves your diaphragm (a large muscle in your stomach). When you breath in (inhale) your diaphragm expands (your stomach gets larger) and when you breath out (exhale) your diaphragm contracts (your stomach goes back to resting position). Over time, people drift away from breathing this way (myself included) and we breath with our chest and shoulders (hello tension in our upper trap) which can actually increase our stress and anxiety.
If you have one tool in your pocket for stress relief, let it be the power of your breath.
Watch this video for a quick demonstration of how to do diaphragmatic breathing for relaxation, stress relief and pain reduction.
My hope is that you can incorporate one of these techniques into your daily life so you can begin reducing stress and living with a calm, clear mind.