Chronic Stress – Modern Day Malady
Traffic jams, computer fatigue, high-pressured work environment and an impossible fast pace in our day to day lives. This has become the rule more than the exception and it takes a toll on our physical and mental health. In this article, I have identified 10 methods to reduce stress that are simple and effective.
Stress and Fight/Flight/Freeze
Self care is critical because many of us stay in a chronic state of fight/flight/freeze. The fight/flight/freeze response is great when we need it. It keeps us alive by signaling the body to release neurotransmitters, hormones, suppress the immune system and increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels to prepare for the fight or enable us to run for our lives. We are not designed to stay in this hyper vigilant, annoyed, on-guard state. It is designed for emergency use only. It is not intended for traffic jams or slow internet connections. The result is a hyper sensitive, quick to react response from the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze reaction) and a parasympathetic nervous system (rest/relax) that is sluggish and slow to activate. Using the following 10 methods to reduce stress will help to re-calibrate our central nervous systems so that the fight/flight/freeze response is not activated as often or as frequently.
10 Methods to Reduce Stress That Anyone Can Do
1. Exercise. Even moderate exercise can help to offset the physical responses of the fight/flight response. Tension can be released from the body by stretching or walking. Blood pressure is reduced and the mind is cleared.
2. Use Intentions. Form follows thoughts. We don’t have to set world changing or even life changing intentions. A simple intention can help us to remain calm. Public speaking is one of the biggest triggers for anxiety. Recently before making a presentation I felt my heart rate spiking. I set an intention that I will share the information I have been asked to share with calm and ease. It brought my anxiety down immediately
3. Notice the Rest/Relax State of Mind – When you are feeling calm or relaxed, try to be conscious of this fact. Notice the ease of mind and body. Feel the calm and be aware of it to help trigger the parasympathetic nervous system to “kick in”.
4. Do Something You Love – It sounds simple. Sometimes the most simple of treatments are the best. When we take the time to engage in those things which make our heart soar, or our mouths curve into a smile it is like a release valve. The stress melts away.
5. Be Grateful – Seeing the blessings, the good, the glass as half full is a great healer which holds enormous healing potential. It gives the mind a break from the troubles and stops the repeat narrative of gloom/doom.
6. Use positive Self Affirmations – We live in a highly competitive society. When we do not excel or properly keep up with the Jones’s, the negative self talk narrative kicks in. For many people negative self talk is loud and pervasive. The tone is harsh and critical. You may not be perfect, but you are not all bad. Find something true, pure, loving that is good about you. Say it. Own it. Remind yourself of the good that is your true essence.
7. See Impermanence – If you pay attention to your current condition, the only thing you can be sure of is it will change. Our moods change moment to moment. Relationships change, financial statuses change, and conditions change. If you can name it, it is changing. Keeping the notion of impermanence in our minds helps us to create a space between ourselves and our suffering.
8. Massage Your Forehead – This simple technique is used in Energy Psychology. It is effective in bringing blood back to the pre-frontal cortex area of your brain. When you are under stress blood leaves this area of your brain to support fight/flight/freeze. That is why it is difficult to think when you are under stress.
Crown Pull Instructions – Place the thumbs of each hand on your temples. Let your fingers rest across your forehead, just above your eyebrows, with finger tips touching. Begin pulling the skin on your forehead, until they separate and reach your hair line. Repeat the process moving up your forehead, until you reach the upper part of your hairline above your eyes.
9. Talk With Someone – When we feel alone, not understood or not seen, we spiral much easier into anxiety and depression. Find someone to talk to. Reach out to your friend that gives you support and good advice. If you don’t have a good support system you need one. It will mean taking risk and doing things that might make you uncomfortable. Visit a church, find a support group in your area, join a social meet-up group with people who have similar interest.
10. Humor – Laugh easily and freely. If it is hard for you to laugh, watch funny movies. In the book Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins describes using a high intake of funny movies and vitamin C to significantly reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. He was able to stop taking pain killers and reduced many of the symptoms associated with the disease.
be in peace – diane