Stress awareness month always confused me. Aren't we always hyperaware of how stressed we are? What we may not realize is how stress affects us.
The Price of Stress
When we are stressed our limbic brain takes over, shutting down all body systems which do not help us fight or flee danger. Our digestive, reproductive and immune systems are turned off momentarily to move all our power and energy to our muscles to run or defend ourselves. Once the immediate danger is over, our systems revert back to normal functioning.
The problem is, today our stressors are not momentary physical dangers but a constant bombardment of mental stress. We rush the kids to school. We get frustrated in traffic. Our boss comes down on us about a late project. Stressor after stressor attacks us. Our body is always on high alert. The adrenaline and cortisol never decrease. Our digestive, reproductive and immune systems are not turned back on. The result is a host of autoimmune, reproductive, and digestive issues.
Here are a few simple ways to combat stress and heal stress' effect on our bodies.
Stress Fighting Foods
Look to healthy whole foods. When we are stressed, we usually reach for sugar, caffeine, or our guilty pleasure. However, these foods can actually decrease our body's ability to combat stress. By eating healthy whole foods, especially leafy greens, avocado, seeds, and blueberries, we can stabilize our blood sugar and send calming nourishment to brains, relaxing and clearing our minds.
Take a Break
Try a guided meditation CD. When we are stressed, it is hard for us to slow down. Meditation is very helpful to relieve stress, but difficult to achieve when we are at the height of our stress. A guided meditation recording provides a journey to relaxation engaging our brains and helping us to relax. These recordings can also be used at bedtime to help us get a good night's rest.
Apply essential oils blend to the temples and wrists. These calming oils can provide a sense of peace and well-being. They can also help to release anger and frustration.
A messy space distracts us and keeps us from being able to focus. The thought of organizing one's home can be stressful in itself. To keep clutter from building, start by being conscious of new clutter you are adding to your space. Instead of just leaving things on the kitchen table, take the few extra moments to put it away in its proper home. If your home is currently overwhelming, you may want to invest in a professional organizer. The stress reduction you receive is well worth the investment.
We spend a majority of our day at work. The tension of deadlines, communication conflicts, and our desire to succeed can all lead to increased stress. Check out this previous article to learn how to manage workplace stress or join me on May 15th for a free event in Chicago providing Stress Relief for Entrepreneurs.