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How to Reduce Stress & Anxiety

Dealing with Stress and Anxiety

Many of us are still under lockdown, unable to go out, or work or make money.  These are stressful times.  Normally, people get stressed from things like getting ready to give a speech, health issues, money issues, family issues, financial issues, etc.  What are the effects of stress, anxiety, and worry?

Effects of Stress

Some effects of Stress are:

  • Increase in Blood Pressure
  • Increase in Cortisol Levels
  • Increase in Acidity
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Mental Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Racing Heart
  • Stomach Ache
  • Erectile Disfunction
  • Infertility
  • Back Ache
  • Heartburn
  • Reduced Immune System

Stress can affect most of the systems in your body including:

  • Central Nervous System
  • Endocrine System – controls glands.  Your Adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol
  • Respiratory System – when you’re stressed, your breath becomes shallow and more rapid.
  • Cardiovascular System – stress causes your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels constrict which can lead to hypertension, stroke, or heart attack.
  • Digestive System- stress causes the liver to produce more blood sugar which can lead to Type II diabetes.  Your digestive system can also become acidic leading to heartburn, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
  • Muscular System – stress can cause tight muscles which could lead to back pain, body aches, headaches, etc.
  • Reproductive System – stress can affect menopause, menstrual cycle, testosterone levels, etc.
  • Immune System – long term stress can negatively affect your immune system which could make you more prone to catching colds or the flu.

So, what can you do?

Use Your Senses

First, utilize all your senses.  For example, what smells make you feel good?  Apple pie? Flowers?  Lavender?  The smell of the ocean or the mountains?  Find the smell that helps alleviate your stress.  Plant flowers.  Bake cookies or a pie.  Get in the car and take a drive.  You can use essential oils and a diffuser.

How about sight?  Blue sky.  The ocean, beach, or mountains.  What colors make you happy?  Colorful flowers?  Puppies?  If you can’t do real flowers, puppies, or beaches, try pictures or paintings.

What about sounds?  Music is helpful in reducing stress.  How about the sound of crashing waves?  Bells?  Thunder? Birds chirping?  Again, if you don’t have birds or waves nearby, you can download sounds.

Touch or feeling.  What might you be able to touch that might be able to reduce your stress?  Sand?  Smooth stones? Fur?  Hugs?  Sunshine?  Water?  Massage?  Go outside and get some sun on your face.  Sit in a hot tub. 

And taste!  Everyone has a taste that makes them feel good.  Sweet, salty, fatty, chocolate, chips, ice cream, comfort food, etc.  Of course, too much comfort food is not good for your overall health, so please don’t start eating a quart of ice cream every day. 

Try to combine as many of the above as possible.  For example, take a drive to the beach or mountains.  Roll the windows down or put the top down, if you have a convertible.  Walk barefoot on the beach where you see the ocean and blue sky, smell the ocean, hear the waves, feel the sand between your toes and the sun on your face. 

Exercise & Relaxation

Massages are a great way to de-stress.  Massage can increase blood flow, decrease your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, increase lymph flow, increase energy, and relax muscles – opposite of what stress does to you.  If you’re able to get a massage on the beach, even better.  If not, play some soothing music or the sound of waves during your massage.

Simple stretching help reduce stress.  Stretching can reduce tension in your body, increase blood flow, improve circulation to your body and brain, reduces pain, reduces fatigue and can elevate your mood.

Deep breathing can reduce stress.  Breathing deeply from your diaphragm activates your “Relaxation Response” and can slow down your metabolism, slow your heart rate, slows your breathing, decreases your blood pressure, increases oxygen to your brain, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, and helps create a mind-body awareness.

Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Gong can reduce stress.  Yoga combines physical poses with breathing and meditation.  It can bring a feeling of peacefulness.  It is relaxing, reduces anxiety, improves your mood and overall fitness level, and can alleviate depression, pain, and insomnia.   Similarly, Tai Chi and Chi Gong uses poses and slow movements to create a state of calm, unblocks stress, reduces anxiety, and builds a mind/body connection.

Exercise can be a de-stressor, as well.  Exercise will tire you out and reduces stress.  It increases endorphins (the feel-good neurotransmitter).  It helps reduce depression, anxiety, fatigue, and tension.  It should allow you to sleep more soundly.  And if you’re losing weight or getting stronger, you’ll have more confidence which should reduce your stress levels.

What is common with many of these ideas?  Breathing, movement, and mind/body coordination (focus).  So, get moving.  You can sit and breathe, stand and breathe, stretch and breathe, hold poses and breathe, move slowly and breathe, or exercise and breathe.  Just move and breathe deeply. 

What else helps to reduce stress?

Herbs

 Herbs.  Here is a list of herbs that can be beneficial.

  • Schizandra
  • Passion Flower
  • Ashwagandha
  • California Poppy
  • Kava Kava
  • Lemon Balm
  • Red Clover

Essential Oils

Essential Oils:

  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Frankincense

These essential oils and herbs can be used in various ways.  You can buy essential oils and put them in your bath.  You can put them in a diffuser and let the steam fill up your room.  Breathe them in using your sense of smell.  You can add oils to your massage oil and get a massage with essential oils.  Some herbs you can drink as a tea, like chamomile. 

There are many ways to try to alleviate stress and anxiety.  You can look at physical, mental, and spiritual options.  You can look to friends and family.  You can learn to appreciate the beautiful things around you.  Another very important thing is having a positive attitude.  It’s much easier to be stressed if you have a negative attitude.  If you can remain positive, you will be in a better mood which helps reduce stress.  I hope this helps.  Now, think positive, and get out there and move!

Be healthy!

Bill

Ultimate Health & Wellness