31 Jan How To Stop Feeling So Stressed

Yogis on how to practice self-care

Written by Refinery 29

Despite what self-appointed zen gurus out there would like you to believe, you’ll never be able to “beat stress” completely — and honestly, who would want to? A life completely free of stress would mean a life without deadlines for projects you care about. It would also mean no more packed social calendar.

The point is: Forget everything you think you know about “de-stressing.” This article is not going to tell you to take a step back, instead, we are explaining how to actually MANAGE your stress so that it doesn’t take over your life or wreck your health. Below, we’ve collected the best four science-backed strategies to roll with it.

 

Why should you care about stress?

 

Not to stress you out or anything (heh), but the mind and body effects of too much stress are very real. Chronic stress has been linked to the developments of a myriad of health issues, from minor stomach upset to substance abuse issues, depression, and even cardiovascular disease.

It’s helpful to think about stress as more of a biological state. The true definition of stress is simply “the brain’s response to any demand,” per the National Institute of Mental Health. Often this demand is some kind of change, whether that’s a negative one (like the death of a loved one) or a positive one (like starting a dream job). But it can also be daily triggers (like road rage) or extreme stressors, like living through a violent or traumatic experience.

For every stressful demand, big or small, your brain initiates a complicated chain reaction. The short story is, it starts with a distress signal from your brain that tells your body to pump out hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones speed your heart rate, open your lungs, and sharpen your senses. It’s a response designed to help you deal with threats, and it’s supposed to calm down once the threat has passed. But if you can’t (or don’t) give your body the help it needs to relax, being on alert all the time can eventually start to take a toll on your body.

Life will always be demanding (and changing), the real keys to managing your stress depend on your ability to ride the stress wave, not stop it or slow it down. Thankfully, scientists take this seriously.

 

4 science-backed strategies to roll with it

 

Aromatherapy: The benefits of essential oils are vast and in the end who doesn’t like the smell good!? We love to have essential oils burning in our yoga classes here at Power Living to create a zen-like zone.

Start a sleep routine: Those bedtime dreads of tossing and turning, counting sheep and blatantly staring up at the ceiling. Stress and insomnia look the same to our bodies and can turn into a vicious cycle, you can’t sleep because you’re stressed and your stressed you can’t sleep. A nighttime routine can look anything like going to bed at the same time every night, limiting screen time before bed or reading a few pages of your favourite book before turning off the lights.

Practice forgiveness: A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found link between forgiving and protection against the nasty side effects of stress on mental health. In the words of ‘Frozen’, “let it go!”

Get a desk plant: For all those desk sitters, yes, getting up in intervals and walking around the office or a quick stroll outside is fundamental to a better work day, but also bringing the outside in can significantly help with stress. The CO2 in plants increases your oxygen levels and basically creates a more calming and natural space for you in what may be a full air-conditioned or artificially lit workspace.

Of course, yoga is a great form of stress relief also and can be done in the comfort of your own home using Yogaholics.

This article has been edited and re-published from Refinery 29.

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