By Debbie Mandel
A little stress, acute stress, is actually good for you. It wakes up your creativity, fuels your vitality and keeps your immune system vigilant. The qualifying word is little. However, when stress becomes chronic and you find yourself rushing from activity to activity with no personal time for yourself, it’s not the external world that is landing on your doorstep; rather it’s your need to constantly open the door!
Here’s what happens when you experience stress. Powerful hormones are released throughout the body, elevating blood pressure and putting your senses on high alert. Glucose is driven up into the brain and muscles. Your evolutionary pre-programmed response is fight, flight or freeze. However, in modern times whom do you fight? Where is the proverbial saber tooth tiger? You take it out on all your relationships, most importantly the relationship you have with yourself.
Ultimately, stress robs you of an optimistic resiliency that allows you to adapt to various obstacles; instead you are hitting your head against a wall of frustration. This is why stress needs to be systematically released because it is toxic to health and happiness. Go green not only by shedding toxic chemicals or processed foods, but also by shedding stress. Even little stressors accumulate and inundate. While you might not be able to control the big stressors in life, you can do something about the small ones. Once you learn to reduce your personal stress response, you will notice that those various aches and pains disappear. Also, you will feel more energetic, experience more “aha” moments, and embrace your authentic true self.
• Begin your day in control instead of waking up with a jolt. Set your alarm clock five minutes earlier to lie in bed and ease into your day.
• Have a power breakfast of lean protein, complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs will help you release serotonin to stabilize mood and lean protein will help your brain focus. Food and mood correlate highly. Throughout the day eat balanced snacks and meals to be balanced. The Mediterranean diet is a good stress-reduction diet.
• Be aware that you are blown about in different directions with multi-tasking and over-scheduling. Begin by shedding one thing from your to-do list. How does this make you feel? What can you do for yourself with this new-found time?
• Move stress out of your body. Walk your legs to their next happiness. Begin an exercise program because Activity Alleviates Anxiety.
• Spend time outdoors to reset your natural rhythm from the technology overload. The sunshine vitamin improves mood.
Live in the moment. One moment can be bad, the next one good.
• Find a creative hobby to compensate you for loss, disappointment and sadness. Fill the emptiness with what makes your heart sing.
• Practice re-framing negatives into positives every day. Human beings have a negativity bias which perpetuates the stress response and makes things seem more awful than they are. We all take the facts and make up stories about them. Make yours a positive or witty story. Cultivate a positivity bias to live in greater joy.
- Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light and Addicted to Stress. She creates stress-management workshops and is an inspiring speaker. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com