Stress is a normal part of our everyday life. Stress starts impacting our health when we are unable to manage it effectively. Here are five practical tips of actions you can take to manage your stress.
- Belly breathing: When you are stressed, your breathing becomes more shallow and rapid. Shallow, rapid breathing causes the body to remain in a state of fight or flight. By taking deep, slow breaths, you activate the parasympathetic (rest and digest) system which promotes a state of calmness.Shallow breathing limits the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lowest part of the lungs doesn’t get filled with oxygenated air, which can make you feel short of breath and anxious.
A daily breathing practice, which can be as simple as five minutes a day, or 10 breaths every hour, can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, slow your breathing rate, reduce the activity of stress hormones, reduce muscle tension and pain, improve concentration, and reduce anxiety. Breathing techniques help you connect to your body and quiet your mind.
- Have a cuppa tea: The caffeine in coffee can aggravate feelings of anxiety. Instead, enjoy a cup of passion flower, chamomile, or decaffeinated green tea which have all been shown to help ease stress and anxiety.
- Take time to smell the lavender: Essential oils can have a powerful effect on our mood and emotions. Diffusing lavender, roman chamomile, or a calming blend has a calming effect and promotes a feeling of relaxation. If you don’t have your diffuser handy when stressful events occur, put a couple drops of oil in the palm of your hand and inhale.
- Fake it till you make it: Use the findings from Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy’s work and strike a Wonder Woman pose (wearing a cape is optional) for 2 minutes when you are under pressure. According to her power pose theory, if you stand in a dominant, more expansive position for at least 2 minutes, your body makes less cortisol (stress hormone). Are you worried people will notice your power pose? No problem – imagining yourself in a power pose position for two minutes also reduces your cortisol levels!
- Take a chill pill from Mother Nature: Venture out in the great outdoors to get some fresh air in a lush GREEN environment preferably near some trees. Spending time outside in nature has been shown to reduce cortisol levels.If you would like more information about how to manage your stress, contact Northshore Acupuncture Center at 815.814.1319.