Simple Stress Management Techniques - Guest Post from ScaleItSimple!
Updated: Oct 2, 2018
If you don't think your anxiety, depression, sadness, and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days. - Kris Carr
Man, I wish I understood the gravity of those words a few years ago. My early twenties were to date the most stressful time in my life. No, not just because of school, the pressure of trying to get a job and the confusion of real adulthood. But because I went through a string of serious and stressful relationship failures, family issues and dramatic friendship changes. Ugh, such is life.
My world was all over the place, but I was handling it well with a cool head. I was on top of things. Or so I thought.
It turns out that because I was jumping from one problem to another I had no ability or time to actually gauge how my body and mind was reacting to stress. Which caused some crazy physical symptoms and some terrible mental responses.
Long story short a few years ago I began to develop terrible stomach problems. I thought I was allergic to things I would normally eat, I began to get ill almost daily. I went to the doctor countless times and was diagnosed with IBS, instructed to avoid things that made me ill and began keeping a food journal.
Mentally I felt low on energy, worried all the time and thought I may have been suffering from depression something that I had never dealt with before.
Here I was enjoying a wonderful time in my life. After finally securing the job I wanted and enjoying the adult life I dreamed for myself, no debt, no negative people, no problems. But here was my body freaking out on me. What was wrong with me?
Naturally, I thought that this was the result of getting older and my body just changing, however, I couldn't help but notice how easily I was beginning to get stressed over the little things in my life. A simple word or subject would give me stomach aches, and I would begin to get sweaty and uneasy over very little.
These events led me to begin researching more into the mind and body connection. This brought me to the book You Are Not Your Brain. Through the insights in this book, I began to realize that the repressed stress over the years had changed my neurological responses and physical body. The hormones and chemicals created from stress had actually changed the makeup of my brain.
From there I began to slowly heal my body with natural supplements and began to heal my mind through meditation. The result was all of my ailments disappeared and I finally felt inside how my life reflected on the outside. Happy, grateful and healthy. I know crazy eh?
Mine is just one of many stories out there of people who have had stress manifest in ways other than giving them a short temper red-face.
If I had known then what I know now I would have taken a step back and been more mindful of stress and its impacts on me. Take it from me there are so many simple things you can do to help with stress in your life. With awareness and little changes, you can transform your life, body, and mind.
Check out some of these simple ways to deal with and prevent stress to get you inspired to take better care of your mind and your body. Cheers!
Contrary to popular belief meditation is not about shutting out your thoughts. This practice is more about the observation of your thoughts. By sitting on your cushion, you can see thoughts arise and observe your feelings and habitual reactions to them. All while sitting and not doing anything about them. Weird right?
Sitting and reflecting on your thoughts and not reacting is a powerful tool in helping you to recognize your own thought patterns and train your brain to have the kind of awareness it needs to not react to everything in habitual ways. With each breath, you can let go of old habits and breath in new awareness.
Whether it be yoga, running outdoors, kickboxing, or hitting the gym for 20 minutes. Exercise in any form is obviously a great way to release tension and stress. In our modern lives stress often stems from mental pressures that we place upon ourselves, these are often of no real threat to us, but because of the way our bodies have evolved to react to potential threats you may feel as though the pressure is a real threat causing your brain to freak out.
Physical activity offers a great medium to exert some of that stress physically and transform it into released energy. Also, if meditation is not your thing, exercise can offer you a great time to work through those stressful thoughts personally and just be with yourself in an intimate way.
Let go of control
Most of my stress stemmed from my fear of something going wrong. I often compare my need for control to squeezing a fist full of sand. Too tight and everything is lost, the sand you hang onto to so tightly just slips through your fingers even faster. The lesson is in the grip, trusting and letting go. Like when you gently grasp the sand you so desperately cling to. You will find your hand is full, overflowing with what you wanted without it slipping away.
The beauty is in the balance. Life is meant to be filled with change and twists and turns. Embracing those turns is a better option than trying to control your path at every turn. Try trusting in others a little more, in releasing control to the universe and discover a balance between your goals and desires and the inevitable twists and turns that will arise in your life.
Three deep breaths
When stress is not preventable and you find yourself in the middle of one of those overwhelming sweat induced, a knot in the stomach moment you need to take more imitate action. It may be in your nature to react to these feelings of anxiety out of fear and habit. However, this is the exact moment you should stop and let your breath take over the situation.
It only takes three deep long breaths. This is simple but can be extremely challenging in the heat of the moment. Taking three breaths helps lower your heart rate, regulate your breathing and relax all things that are increasing your stress in the first place. Taking three breaths can help you to put a little distance between the situation at hand and your reaction. Making this the most simple and powerful technique that I have used and still use.
I get it, eating healthy can be a drag for some people, which is why I am not suggesting that you become a vegan overnight. What I will suggest are less caffeine and sugars. I know I know, I love them too, but that stuff only feeds stress, not your belly. Put a limit on sugar and caffeinated drinks and try drinking more water instead. Yes, it can be that simple.
As we already know, and I have already mentioned through my own experiences our gut health and mental health are related and the two affect each other greatly. You need to have a healthy mind and belly in order to keep stress at bay. Again, it's all about that balance.
Simplify your expectations
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to manage stress simply is to get to the root of what is causing the stress, which is often our own expectations. Think about this for a second, all stress can be linked to expectations. Money stress, relationship stress, health stress, you name it. There is always a way you can change your lens and find accountability in what is causing you stress and then change it.
With a simple shift in perspective, you can change a stressful situation into a learning experience that will allow you to grow and have more of the things in your life that you do want. Realistic expectations are key to reducing stress in your life almost every time.
Steph is a 20 something-year-old blogger from St. John’s Newfoundland. On her blog ScaleitSimple, she often writes about happiness, self-love, and living simply.
You can also find all natural/cruelty-free beauty products and learn key blogging tips on ScaleitSimple. She believes that people want and deserve a life filled with love, passion, and growth and her goal is to help other like-minded souls become inspired through sharing her own experiences.