Let’s talk about stress. It seems to be something that I’ll have to work on forever. As someone who’s overwhelmed pretty easily, I constantly have to keep track of my stress levels. With every year that goes by, I feel like I have to get more creative about the tools and ways I manage and reduce stress.
Honestly, though, we all live in such a fast-paced environment/time – it seems only natural that we’re all stressed. Technology, work, and everyday chores keep us busy pretty much constantly. Our nervous system is never truly able to calm down. In the past, this wasn’t something I would have given much thought as my body was so used to being in fight or flight mode all the time. Of course, I felt the discomfort and the tension that would build up, especially physically but I never connected the dots and recognized that my lifestyle choices directly affect my stress levels.
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
I’m still learning what works for me and I feel like finding a solid routine definitely is a process. Every new day is a new opportunity to learn how my body reacts to stress. A while back I posted a picture on Instagram sharing how stressful times affect me physically. Discomfort in my digestive system will generally be the first sign for me that I’ve taken on too much. My body reacts with severe bloating and discomfort in my abdominal area. It’s as pleasant as it sounds. However, as I’ll be upping my workload soon by taking on new projects I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite ways and tools I use (all the time) to manage and reduce stress.
1. breathe consciously & deeply
This is probably the number one pro tip that any yoga teacher will give you and in my opinion and experience, it’s the one you need to take seriously.
Be conscious of the way you breathe. Take the time to observe your breath, especially in stressful situations and challenging times.
Sadly, this is something we all tend to forget about. Yet, our breath is the one thing we can always control and direct. I love that calming my breath enables me to actively tell my body that everything is OK, even when life is busy and I feel like I’m racing around like a hamster in a wheel.
If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
- Amit Ray
2. move your body mindfully
Whenever I’m feeling super stressed, usually what I need most is to reconnect with my body. For me, any form of mindful exercise will do the trick. Usually, I try to stick to anything that combines movement and conscious breathing like yoga or pilates. Ideally, there’s some stretching involved as well, as I tend to build up quite a lot of tension. If you’re interested in giving it a shot, try to find enjoyable ways to move your body that get you out of your head and into your body.
Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.
- Carol Welch
You guys, as I mentioned before tension is something I’m struggling with A LOT which is why I always look for different methods to relax and release tension. Sometimes when I get up in the morning my body feels so incredibly stiff and tense. A while back Pranamat gifted me a beautiful acupressure set (it came as a set of a mat and a pillow but you can choose from different options) and I’m telling you: this truly is a game-changer for me.
As I’m mostly struggling with tension in the upper back and neck area, spending up to 30 minutes on this mat in the morning and/or evening does wonders to my body. It’s like a deep tissue massage within the comfort of my own home. Sometimes I turn on my diffuser and add some essential oils for that special spa feeling. I will say that it definitely takes a bit of time to get used to and it can feel quite a bit painful in the beginning. However, once you do you’ll never want to live without this mat. It’s a wonderful tool to relax and reduce stress. Christmas isn’t too far away, so maybe add it to your wishlist right now 😉
It’s very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
If you’ve been following my journey for a while you’ll know that I’m a big fan of taking supplements. This wasn’t always the case. In fact, I used to believe that supplements are a waste of money. After all, if I stick to a remotely healthy diet I shouldn’t need any supplementation, right?
Well, I believe that for some people that might be true. In my case though, eating healthy just isn’t cutting it. My body hasn’t always been super sensitive. I can say for sure though that the traumatic experience of losing my father at a young age, overdoing it with the alcohol in my teenage years and frequent intake of antibiotics for sure did some severe damage to my gut lining and my microbiome. Don’t even get me started on the effects of the pill. However, being sensitive just means that I can’t get away with unhealthy habits and damaging behavior the way I did before. I had to learn how to properly take care of myself.
When it comes to supplements many things play a role: Environment toxicity, underlying health issues, and nutrient absorption, lifestyle choices and so on. What supplements do I take to reduce stress and support my body? Well, I like to think that my body will be more resilient when it’s not dealing with any deficiencies to being with. I think that making sure that I meet my needs for all essential vitamins and minerals is always a good place to start. If that means that I have to get my levels tested and take a supplement for what I’m missing, I’m all for it.
Nutrient deficiency is not something to take lightly. If you live a stressful lifestyle and/or know that you’ll have a couple of busy weeks (or months) ahead you can also get a supplement to support your adrenals specifically. I always try to go for supplements made from organic whole foods. This is something I gladly invest in. After all, we only have this one, amazing body.
5. Technology detox
Okay, when it comes to spending too much time mindlessly scrolling through social media or simply looking at screens for way too long I’m probably guilty. It’s hard to explain but it’s easy to get caught up in these unhealthy patterns, especially if you’re someone who wants to create content and/or needs to use technology for work. At some point, I went and invested in a pair of high-quality blue light blocking glasses but that’s a topic for another day. Apart from protecting my eyes while I’m staring at screens, I try to limit actual screen time as much as I can to reduce stress on body and mind.
For me that might mean:
- Starting the day with some kind of mindfulness practice like yoga, journaling or meditation. If you’re interested in meditation go ahead and click here.
- Not touching any of my devices until I feel calm and collected and ready to start my day.
- Going for a walk and leaving my phone at home.
- Trying to get out in nature as much as possible.
- Consciously stopping when I notice that I’m mindlessly scrolling.
- Avoiding all devices after 8 pm.
I come to the conclusion that when it comes to stress, different things work for different people. Obviously, you know best what you need to relax and recharge. Personally, I’m noticing more and more, that activities out in nature are the most fulfilling to me. The combination of fresh air, amazing views, and gentle, mindful movement re-energize my body and my soul. During these past few weeks, we’re actively trying to make an effort and go for a hike every weekend and so far we’re doing a pretty good job. Let’s stress less and live more (mind)fully!