The Healthy Author: Stress
Is it me, or do you feel like most of us walk around anxious and worried and stressed? With all of those short fuses, is it any wonder we run into these little “explosions” throughout our day? Getting yelled at (or yelling!) in traffic, snapping at your kids/husband, or just feeling completely crab-tastic (It happens to the best of us) are all signs we’re stressed and as you know…
Stress is BAD.
Stress dumps cortisol into your bloodstream, which causes anxiety, which in turn causes lack of sleep and then we look old and get fat and feel awful.
AND. Stress can be caused by a number of things you’re doing! From how much caffeine you're having during the day (sidebar: if coffee “doesn’t affect you” that means your adrenal glands could be blown which is another issue altogether…) to hormone fluctuations to good old fashioned heredity.
Did you know if your mother was under lot of stress while pregnant with you that you could’ve become addicted to it in utero?
How can we win?
I, for one, don't want to "manage" stress. I'd like to eradicate it. Demolish it. Avoid it altogether. Who’s with me??? But no matter how great my diet, how low my caffeine intake, or dedicated to my yoga practice I am, stress tends to seep in like water leaking through the cracks even though you were sure the room was watertight.
BUT! I suffer from a lot less anxiety these days. I have learned to take stressful moments from a screaming “10” down to a breathable “5” and today I’m sharing those tricks with you! Here are a few things I do when stress comes knocking at my door.
5 Ways to Blast Stress Right FREAKING Now
(1) Take three breaths (4/4/4)
I talk about this one OFTEN! If you read my blogs regularly, this probably sounds familiar to you! A lot of times when I feel my anxiety creeping up I realize that I’ve been sitting staring at my computer screen without moving for a very long time. When you’re not moving around, you don’t breathe deeply. Shallow breathing does more than just make you sleepy—it triggers your fight or flight response.
Say you’re a deer (if you heard Marisa Tomei’s voice from My Cousin Vinny, give yourself 100 points!)… Anyway. Say you’re a deer and you’re in the woods and you hear a twig snap. You freeze. Breathe as shallowly and as quietly as possible so that the big, scary predator that’s coming to eat you won’t hear you… Well, that’s how you’re body feels when you don’t breathe easy! But there is no bear, and you have to remind your body of that fact.
How to breathe:
Inhale through your nose for the count of 4
Hold it for the count of 4
Exhale through your mouth for the count of 4
Do 3 sequences of this right now. Really! Try it! Can you feel the difference already?
(2) Recite a mantra
I’ve noticed when anxiety attacks, it’s often a response that lives in my body and my mind follows suit. It’s important to recognize that your body isn’t in charge of your mind—your mind is in charge of your body. Decide how you’re going to feel. Decide that you’re calm and in control and feel the stress melt away. Don’t have a mantra of your own? You can borrow mine. It’s “Discomfort is not danger.”
Remember that breathing trick we talked about? Well, a brisk walk can get you out of that scared-deer way of thinking and FAST. If you can’t go outside for a walk, try taking a few flights of stairs down and back up. While you’re at it, repeat that mantra you decided on! You wouldn’t believe how much the combo of exercise and mantras helps when combined. Just ask Erin Stutland.
If you have more time, I’d recommend yoga which is an exercise that focuses on breathing. Just 15 minutes of it redirects your mind on the stretch and breath and away from the hamster wheel your brain is on.
(4) The devil is in the devices.
iPhone. iPad. MacBook. Put it down, back away. Give your candy crushing game a breather, and go outside. If the weather is nice, slip off your shoes and stand on the actual ground—grass or dirt! I was told by a holistic practitioner that this is especially important to do if you work at a computer all day. (Guilty!)
(5) Detox Bath
Last week I shared a recipe for a detox bath that is one of the most relaxing things you can do for yourself. If you can take 15-30 minutes to indulge in this highly effective fix, I recommend it! These ingredients work wonders on tense muscles and a busy mind. Click here to download the recipe.