Stress. That lovely word that comes up time and time again that holds people back from achieving optimal health and living their healthiest life. We all know that stress can have a negative impact on both our mental and physical health. But, scientifically have you ever wondered how stress can hold us back from living our healthiest lives and feeling our ultimate best? Here is a brief picture of what happens to the body when it is undergoing the stress response. There is a physiological effect on our body during times of stress which is our fight or flight response. This is our body’s natural response to protect us from a dangerous or harmful situation. As our body enters fight or flight our cardiovascular system is activated, our heart rate goes up, our breathing increases and our blood pressure increases. Our digestive system stops and our immune function decreases, and this is because these functions are put on the back burner while we “protect” ourselves from the stressful circumstance.
Stress can also be harmful to the body when we turn to the wrong things to “de-stress”. Turning to alcohol, drugs or tobacco keep the body in a stressed state and doesn’t allow it to return to a relaxed state for the body to recover and rejuvenate. This is incredibly common and majority of people turn to these substances to lower their stress levels where in reality it is having the complete opposite effect. There are healthier ways in which we can lower our stress levels and all of these seven ways I will explain below you can begin today.
Here are 7 ways you can lower your stress levels today:
1. Decrease and eliminate negative self-talk
I am sure you have heard this one before. Kick the negative self-talk. Easier said than done though right? Kindof. It seems super difficult in the beginning but I promise you the more your consciously practice having positive thoughts and positive self-talk it becomes second nature. It becomes a habit. You start doing it without even trying. I have seen this transition within myself. So, my suggestion is to put in the work and notice when you are speaking to yourself from a place of fear. Notice the thought without judgment and simply change it to a positive thought. For example here’s one that I caught myself saying recently. “I can’t present like she can.” The classic comparing yourself to others. I caught myself and began repeating “I am a beautiful communicator, leader with a strong vision and show my passion when presenting”. If you want to make this even more powerful, stand in front of a mirror and tell your self this! It’s incredibly powerful.
2. Have a vision
When you have a vision and a belief of where you are going long-term it brings you back down to earth and lowers your stress levels instantly. This is because the “little things” and the small obstacles along the way begin to not phase you and you simply plow through them with no stress. Keep your vision alive by writing it down and hanging it up in a near by spot where you can always see it. This will decrease your natural instinct to stress over the small stuff. Not everything is always going to go the way you have planned, so when you focus on the bigger picture and your larger vision, you become solution focused and you don’t “sweat the small stuff”. When you have a vision, you are empowered, inspired and feel completely alive, lowering your stress levels completely. I will be posting a blog in the near future on how to create a strong vision. So stay tuned for that one.
3. Get outside
There is a ton of research to back up the effectiveness of spending time outdoors for your spirituality and for lowering stress levels. Taking a walk in the woods has been shown in several studies to lower blood pressure, depression and prevent stress related illnesses. Being in nature has been shown to improve cognition and significantly decrease anxiety and stress levels. The key to fully benefiting from time in nature is to completely unplug and be present to what is in front of you. So, sorry folks. No instagram on your nature walks anymore.
4. Practice self care and self love
Lower your stress levels by practicing self-care. This is different for everyone. Self care for some people could be taking time out to read your favorite book, getting a massage or going to your favorite yoga class. Whatever makes you feel like a million bucks. Go and do that! You deserve to feel great and you deserve to be pampered. Take care of yourself. You are the most important. And yes, even you moms! Your kids will be ok. Go for that massage and go to that yoga class. You will be happier when you do.
5. Start saying no
Oh boy do I love this one! Start saying no to things that are not aligned with your vision or your values. When you know your vision and your values you can start saying no to the things that are simply not aligned. It is ok to say no and it is ok to stand strong in what’s important to you. If it’s not aligned it may be time to say goodbye.
6. Practice emotional freedom technique
Have you heard of EFT before? I was introduced to this years ago and practice it often when I feel myself getting nervous, stressed or anxious. There is a great video here from my friend Denise Duffield-Thomas from Lucky Bitch where she explains how to do it. You can check it out here: How To Use EFT In Public.
7. Breathe in lavender and cedar
Lavender relieves stresses and allows your body to deeply relax. Cedar has the ability to enhance mood, decrease anxiousness and increase motivation. The beautiful combination of these two scents brings a sense of relaxation to your home, creating your stress-free oasis. I picked up lavender cedar incenses by Maroma from Wholefoods.
So, there you have it. Seven effective and easy ways you can lower your stress levels. Our stress levels today are the highest they have ever been and I am determined to share this message with you all and inspire you to put your health first and kick stress to the curb!
Stephanie Morrison is a certified holistic nutritionist, registered yoga and meditation instructor with a passion for guiding others along their healing path. She uses a combination food, supplementation, homeopathics and lifestyle recommendations to create balance in the body and address the root cause of her clients health symptoms. She works in private clinic setting specializing in hormonal, digestive and emotional health.