By Laurel House, QuickieChick Editor
Calling On Good Stress
Stress is a surge of energy that, in moderate amounts, has been shown to improve memory, heart function and the immune system. The human condition is equipped to handle healthy amounts of stress (think of our ancestors, the cavemen, who had to run for their lives from wild animals) thanks to naturally occurring chemicals called “fight-or-flight” hormones that force cortisol and adrenaline to surge through our bodies. Ever heard the stories of women who suddenly have the strength to lift a car off of their child? Obviously they didn’t instantly develop super human muscles. This kind of stress is healthy because it powers you up. The good thing is that it’s short lived and doesn’t sit there in your system, leaving you constantly feeling amped up and over-stimulated. It’s a blip of power that you use up when in need, and subsides on its own when no longer needed.
When Good Stress Goes Bad
But here’s the kicker, if you overdo it in the stress department, and that little blip turns into an ongoing elevated state, it can quickly turn from something stimulating and strengthening to something that can weaken your immune system, minimizing your clarity of thought, cause inflammation, wrinkles, weight gain, and even sexuality and fetility Issues (oh no!). The line between good and bad, my friends, is fine.
The trick is to harness “good” stress while letting go of “bad” stress.
How To Get A Grip
Sure, taking off to far-away countries and pamper-promising spas offer momentary interludes from the frenetic fast lane of life that we have, for some odd reason, voluntarily merged onto. While excusing yourself entirely and escaping to a land far far away from life’s frenzied flow is permissible on occasion, allowing daily interludes, even for just 5-minutes, can alleviate chronic stress and help you to finally get a much needed grip.
As much time, money and energy as we place on de-stressing, the secret to stress reduction is relatively easy: me-time. Celebrities depend on their gaggle of Gurus to get them through the day. So what are real people supposed to do? Just because our faces aren’t brandished on billboards and swathed on the silver screen doesn’t mean that we don’t need a little (okay a lot of) help too.
You can actually extract the essence of relaxation with these de-stressing sanity savers.
Do THIS To Stop Stressing
MIND YOUR MANTRA
Similar to how you create lists in your head that you repeat over and over again so that you don’t forget them- which only stresses you out even more – come up with a mantra that you can repeat over and over one that actually calms you. Focusing on the rhythmic repetition of a mantra (phrase or sentence) has been scientifically proven to slow the respiratory rate while relaxing the mind. Try: “I am happy, I am calm, I am healthy.” Or something as simple as “Everything will be ok” Then repeat repeat repeat!
Stick your fingers in Dirt! Sometimes getting a little dirty is all you need to clear out your mind. Focusing on the scent of the herbs or flowers, noticing when the buds break through along the vine, how the leaves grow, when the caterpillars come out all help you to get out of your head for a bit. Getting back to nature is a great way to nurture yourself. No backyard? Bring it into the house, plant your perennials or herbs in windowsill gardens!
SPRITZ AWAY STRESS
Lavender is naturally ease-inducing, its scent eases you into a state of calm! Use lavender-infused water in a spritzer bottle to calm sudden stress. Use a lavender and flax-filled eye pillow to help me fall asleep at night.
SOOTHE YOUR SOLES
Having mangled muscles manipulated is the ideal self-celebrating activity for many spa-goers. But when at the mercy of time, it is essential to extract the pure essence of massage – which is located in the foot! More than just conveniently placed, easy to reach body parts, feet are actually known as the “gateway to the body.” Foot massage, or reflexology, is an ancient practice of manipulation and stimulation to restore health and balance to the entire body through reflex therapy applied to the feet.
-Rub Away Stress Through your Solar Plexus
For instant relief from stress, press the solar plexus (the nerve center of the body) reflex point- located in the middle of the bottom of your foot- for 30 seconds. Release and repeat. The spot can elicit calm, AND help reduce morning sickness!
-Stop anxiety in its Tracks!
Rub the brain, stomach and solar plexus reflexology points on your feet. The brain, your body’s mental stress center, is at the point of the base of the ball of the big toe. Relieve butterflies by rubbing the stomach – at the arch of the foot. Pay particular attention to “crunchy” spots which is a sign of congestions. Spend 20-30 seconds on each foot. Repeat as needed.
Massage improves circulation, helping in the interchange of oxygen and nutrients between the blood and tissue cells, which increases muscle recovery and strengthening. More than relieving the muscles, massage helps bring the body and mind into balance, soothing stress both physically and emotionally. Another stress-relieving aspect (that might help further rationalize the splurge)- it’s believed to be able to burst fat cells, forcing them to be absorbed away instead of bunching up on your thighs. According to reflexology there are certain pressure points on the feet that can stimulate the metabolism and encourage weight loss.
PUT YOUR PROBLEMS IN A SCARF
Research has shown that the repetitive motion of knitting is an instant stress reducer. So get some knitting needles and balls of yarn and knit a scarf. Seriously stressed? You can always knit a blanket or a sweater!
Pets heal. Recent studies show that the sheer act of petting a dog relaxes the body, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and steadies breathing. By caring for a pet, the focus is off of your problems, adding to the calming effect. And, better than a treadmill, take a hike or play chase in the backyard with your furry friend. The exercise comes with a dose of fun, which, like laughter, is often considered the best medicine. More than the natural calm that comes over pet owners, adopting a dog or a cat can add to that sense of peace, knowing that you have saved that innocent animal’s life. Adopted pets somehow know that you are giving them another chance. They embody gratitude.
“THINKING OF YOU”
Little notes can say a lot, especially when they come in the form of surprises meant to brighten your day. Stash your favorite smile-evoking slips of paper in your desk drawer for a fast pick-me-up amidst a frenzied day. As cheesy as it sounds, make it a Hallmark Day for someone special. Pay it forward!
Laurel House is a Fit Living Expert, 3x published author, and believer in living a life of balance. See more of her “Quickie Tips” on her website QuickieChick.com.
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