By Stephanie Spillmann 12/30/17
Eight Amazing Stress-Relief Solutions
We all know that familiar burning in our stomachs when we dread something that’s coming or we’re actively facing situations that stress us. Maybe it’s butterflies and feeling lightheaded, or tension headaches and sleepless nights.
Being aware of what stress does to our bodies, and finding effective stress-relief solutions, is a must for good health and well being.
Stress and the Body
According to a Mayo Clinic article on stress, we can suffer in many ways.
Physical Reactions Include:
- Muscle pain
- Chest pain
- Stomach problems
- Sleep problems
- Changes in sex drive
Emotional Effects Include:
- Inability to focus
Behavioral Issues Include:
- Eating disturbances
- Moody outbursts
- Substance abuse
- Social withdrawal
In light of the damage stress can do to the body and mind, finding ways to manage and alleviate it can save your health. The following are eight amazing stress-relief solutions, starting with an invaluable seminar I attended.
Stress Relief Begins With the Heart
Following an all-day seminar on building resilience and eliminating persistent stress, I came away with some simple yet powerful tools to point me in the right direction.
The seminar was based on the amazing principles of stress management by the HeartMath Institute™, a non-profit health and research organization on the cutting edge of stress relief and restoring peace to hectic lives.
It provided amazing insights into the incredible link between our hearts and minds as it relates to stress. Extensive research shows that stress relief is longer lasting when the head and heart work together.
Heart rhythms play quite a large role in our stress responses, and by learning to manage our physical and mental responses to stress triggers, we can reframe stress and eradicate it in minutes.
“This book could save you years of therapy”
Deepak Chopra MD
The tools that HeartMath Institute™ offers are out of this world. One of the best books I’ve ever read is The HeartMath Solution. The $15.99 price tag is worth its weight in gold! The stress-relief techniques in The HeartMath Solution are proven, easy to understand and put into practice — they really work!
Stress Relief Methods Take Plenty of Practice
Stress relief isn’t rocket science, but it certainly takes practice and lots of retraining in your brain and heart systems. Learning to let go is a simple idea, but it’s harder than it sounds.
One winter night, our furnace went out for the fifth time in a week. After a quick phone call to the service guy and an estimate of the after-hours pricing, we decided to take our chances with being warm and toasty for the night.
As I lay in bed, my stomach churned and my ears listened for the clicking sound that it makes when gearing up to blow that nice warm air. The probability of no heat kept my anxiety level on overdrive for hours. I allowed something that I could not control to control my whole body for the entire night.
The HeartMath seminar taught me that we don’t have to allow stress triggers to control us. I learned many valuable tools that can be used in the moment and for long-term stress relief.
Taking deep breaths in the midst of an anxiety-laden episode is the first step to calming the heart/brain connection. Reframing your mind by focusing on something that makes your toes curl with joy, and honing in on that, is the second step.
Making the conscious decision to center yourself in this positive space for a few minutes makes all the difference. Training yourself to maintain this frame of mind is worth the work. Regular practice does make a difference — I can attest to that.
It’s hard to escape a well-traveled habit. After attending the seminar, I became much more aware of how I normally choose to handle stress. I highly recommend taking advantage of seminars and free online tools.
More Ways to Fight Stress and Reclaim Peace
- Practice mindfulness each day by keeping a journal of the good things in your life — even if you can only write a few trivial things, this helps refocus your heart and mind.
- Research shows that exercise lowers stress hormones and fills our bodies with good endorphins — carve out even 15 minutes a day for physical exertion and you’ll notice a difference.
- Yoga and/or meditation can change your life — this practice of deep breathing and gentle movement invites a peaceful mindset and combats the effects of stress. Deep breathing can be implemented any time to slow your heart rate and replenish much-needed oxygen to your system.
- Get more sleep — start with going to bed just 30 minutes earlier and work up to adding another hour. Stress can be aggravated by even small levels of sleep deprivation. Try exercising a few hours before bedtime, employ a regular evening relaxation routine, stay away from caffeine after lunchtime, and above all, don’t look at screens of any kind for at least an hour before sleeping.
- Document your troubles — writing down what’s causing the most stress in your life, your feelings, and possible solutions, may make you feel less helpless and more in control. At the very least, it can become an outlet for releasing repetitive stress thoughts.
Focus on someone else’s needs or problems for a short time — volunteering for even an hour a week (once a month works too) reframes your mind and can remind you that you’re not alone in your troubles. Lending a listening ear to a friend or family member who is struggling can also help.
For animal lovers, local shelters are always looking for volunteers to visit with kitties or walk their resident dogs.
For people lovers, your local chapter of Meals on Wheels always welcomes help with meal packaging or delivering meals to those in your community who can’t get out.
- Plant a trouble-tree, or choose an established tree, bush, or other monument outside of your house to “hang your troubles on” after a stressful day — especially effective for high-stress jobs that beg attention during after-work hours. The simple act of pausing, placing hands on that tree or other chosen object, and letting go of the day can work wonders.
What are some things that you do to lower stress? The more suggestions the better.
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