In a biological context, stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. In general, stress is related to both external and internal factors.
External factors include:
• The physical environment, including your job.
• Your relationships with others.
• Your home.
• All the situations, challenges, difficulties, expectations you're confronted with on a daily basis.
Internal factors determine your body's ability to respond to, and deal with, the external stress-inducing factors. Internal factors which influence your ability to handle stress include:
• Your nutritional status.
• Overall health and fitness levels.
• Emotional well-being. How you think about circumstances.
• The amount of sleep and rest you get.
Stress can cause or influence the course of many medical conditions including:
• Psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety.
• Medical problems can include poor healing, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, poorly controlled diabetes, and many other conditions.
• Acute and chronic-low grade Inflammation- which is the reaction of living tissue to injury or infection, characterized by heat, redness, swelling, and pain. Inflammation plays a central role in degenerative diseases and aging.
10-Practical Techniques to Diffuse Stress:
In addition to burning energy from the calories we take into our body via food, and keeping our muscles toned as we age, exercise can help combat the effects of stress. A lack of activity can directly raise your inflammatory state, versus, the flip side is that getting sufficient exercise is probably the single most effective way to lower your inflammatory state and counteract stress.
2. Get out and about.
One of the best ways to decrease stress is to spend time with people we enjoy. Whether it’s other new moms, dog lovers, fishing buddies, or siblings, just knowing you’re not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress. Make sure you’re spending plenty of time with people who, like you, are interested in improving their lives. Being around people who love life is not only rewarding, it’s great therapy! Conversely, avoid relationships that bring on stress and codependent behaviors.
3. Go natural.
Get out in nature! Just unplug from work and make time for yourself to do this. Turn off the phones, power down the I-pads, shut off the computers and relax in a natural setting. Whether it’s a walk on the beach, letting the waves flow over your ankles as you bathe in the sun; a rented cabin in the country, where the nights are filled with croaking frogs, crickets, and a sky blanketed with stars; or a hike in the pristine air of a high-alpine region—nothing is more important than leaving behind the madness of our high-tech world to spend some time simply absorbing all that connects us and puts us in synchronicity with life.
4. Treat your body.
Anything from a light massage to deep structural therapy can help you relax and restore balance to your musculoskeletal system when you’re stressed, stiff, or just worn out. It even helps lower inflammation.
5. Take a warm bath.
Soaking at home in a soothing bath with some sea salts or Epsom salts for example is calming and relaxing to the body and helps alleviate stress.
Laughter has been shown to reduce stress and lower unhealthy hormone levels. Watch a funny movie, tell jokes, and find time to laugh with friends and family. Or next time you feel stressed, just try rustling up a great big smile. While it may feel forced at first, smiling by its very nature reduces bad feelings.
7. Focus on the positive.
It is easy to slip into a negative self-image. But why say something bad about yourself that you wouldn’t even dream of saying about someone else? Turn the internal dialogue into a running commentary on all the reasons you have to be grateful.
8. Take a time-out before responding to choose your ideal outcome.
We all have to deal with the day-to-day problems. To help defuse a potentially stress-filled situation, practice stopping for a moment to re-focus and choose the outcome you want instead of just reacting in the moment.
9. Breathe deeply.
We can’t live without it—and it’s one of the most powerful stress reducers there is. When we’re stressed, we tend to breathe with our chest muscles. Abdominal breathing, on the other hand, is associated with a relaxed state. The rhythm of our breathing plays a major role in our health. Try this exercise: Stand quietly with one hand on your chest and the other hand on your abdomen. Take some slow, deep breaths, paying attention to the movement of your hands. If the hand on your chest is most active and your chest is moving upward, you’re a chest breather. If your belly is moving outward while your chest remains relatively still, you’re an abdominal breather.
Try this relaxing breath exercise from Dr. Andrew Weil The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath):
Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four
3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
For more information about Andrew Weil, M.D visit his website: https://www.drweil.com
10. Make your home cozy and inspiring.
Turn on soft music, put up some beautiful art, plant a garden, create a spot for meditation, hang wind chimes, or build a waterfall or reflection pond.
By Judith Garner, Certified Health Coach
Helping people stay healthy inside & out!