It’s getting to that time of the year when things start getting a little crazy… Lots of social events, work deadlines looming with people trying to wrap things up for end of the year, family tensions for some, and financial pressures with present buying, holidays etc
Yep, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!
And while a little stress can be a good for us- known as eustress- to get things down, move a little quicker be a little more efficient, chronic stress tends to have the opposite effect. Long-term stress can cause:
- poor concentration and memory
- decreased reproductive hormones and infertility
- lowered immunity
- poor gut function
- deficiencies in magnesium, iron, B12 and zinc
- weight gain or loss
- anxiety and depression
We can think about things that are causing us stress in three ways- move (or run) away from it, ie quit your job, leave a stressful relationship; change the situation,ie confront the stressful person, work issue; or change our perception around it. This can be one of the most challenging as involves you doing some work and changing your mindset around a particular issue- this is not easy stuff kids!!
One of the best and most well known ways to change our mindset is to practice meditation. Meditation helps us to become more present and to train our brain not to run away with potential problems. This helps us to change our perception around a stressful situation as generally most of the things we are stressing about never happen anyway!! Meditation also calms our nervous system so we can think more clearly, and come up with better solutions to what is causing us stress rather than throwing ourselver into fits of anger, sadness, the wine bottle... However I can often hear the internal groans when I mention meditation to my patients, and to be honest I am yet to get down a regular daily meditation (new years resolution number one!).
So below I am sharing some other helpful tips for reducing stress and changing your perception around things that aren't meditation. These can be great tools for bringing your mind back into the present when we are under stress.
Write it out: what is it that is going round and round your mind, or is bubbling up to the surface that you may explode? Put pen to paper and let it out. Quite often all we need to do is to get it out of your mind and we can feel a lot better. You may even come up with a solution once you can see what you are actually worrying about.
Gratitude: focus on those things are that are good in your life. Maybe you enjoyed tea with a friend that day, or you won $5 on a scratchie. Writing 3 positive things that happened to you in a day has been found to decrease feelings of burnout within a week. What your mind focuses on is what you will generally attract more of into your life. Focus on those good things that you have, and expect to bring more of those into your days
Dance and/ or sing it out – personal favourite!! I don’t think anything makes you feel better than to dance your stress away. Put on your favourite music, nice and loud, and dance it out. No time or privacy at home? Get in the car and belt some tunes out, it works just as well.
Go outside with bare feet and soak up some of those natural vibes. The Japanese have a phrase ‘Shinrin-yoku’ which translates as ‘forest- bathing’. It has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce stress hormones, boost the immune system and promote a general feeling of well-being. Getting out in the sunshine for ten minutes a day also boosts our vitamin D level, which helps to fight against depression and also improves our immune system.
- Lie on your back with legs up the wall: ok we are heading into meditation territory here.. but not quite, we can still count it as an ‘activity’. This pose has so many benefits- nourishing the adrenal glands and supporting the rest-and digest nervous system, reducing tension and fluid in legs and feet, and allow your belly to go nice and floppy for deep belly breathing. Yes ladies I said floppy belly, and it’s a good thing.
Deep belly breathing: as per point above. If your not keen to get down and dirty on the ground, at least sitting and focusing on your breath moving in and out of your body and ideally directing it into your belly, also helps with calming our body and reducing stress hormones. This works anywhere! Lately I have been doing this on my drive home after work and I arrive home feeling a lot better than how I left work. Some may even call it meditation…
If you feel your chronic stress is causing a burden on your body and you would like some support, naturopathic medicine provides many ways to help support your body to recover from chronic stress.
Tess is available for appointments Mon, Wed and Thursday through skype or in person. All new and return appointments booked for Dec and Jan have an additional free 15minutes consultation time to go through your new year health goals and also receive an ebook with a personalized diet and lifestyle plan to achieve your goals.
To make an appointment go to 'Book now' from the drop down menu or email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred day/ time.