How to Deal With Stress Effectively
Relaxation and downtime does not necessarily mean lounging on your sofa for a few hours and binge-watching your favourite series on Netflix, in fact, it could be doing little for you if you are looking to relieve stress and the damaging effects it has. If you want to fight stress effectively, you will need to activate your body’s innate relaxation response. This can be achieved through the practice of relaxation techniques like yoga, rhythmic exercise, meditation, and deep breathing. It will be even better if you try to incorporate these activities into your daily routine as it can help you efficiently enhance your physical and mental health, boost your mood and energy, and more importantly, reduce daily stress.
What Happens When You Invoke the Body’s Relaxation Response?
When the nervous system is overwhelmed by stress, there is an increased production of the chemicals that prepare the body for flight or fight. The stress response can be helpful in case you are in danger and you need to think on your feet. However, when it is continuously active due to the stresses of day to day life, it can affect your physical and emotional health and wear down your body. Stress is unavoidable but you can counter the harmful effects by producing the relaxation response at will since it is the deep state of rest by the body which is a complete contrast from the stress response. The relaxation response impedes stress and puts your mind and body back in a state of equilibrium. Activation of the relaxation response brings about the following reactions in the body:
- Increased blood flow to the brain
- Relaxation of the muscles
- A reduction or stabilisation in blood pressure
- Deeper and slower breathing
- Reduced heart rate
Aside from the calming effects it has on your physical self, the relaxation response will also boost your productivity and motivation levels, enhance problem-solving abilities, relieve any aches and pains, fight illnesses, increase focus, relieve anxiety and boost energy. The advantage is that with regular practices, anyone can get these benefits and you can do them yourself thanks to free smartphone apps and audio downloads. On the other hand, you need to find a relaxation technique that works ideally for you and is suited to your lifestyle in order to effectively reduce stress by activating the relaxation response. The following relaxation techniques can be worth a try to help you deal with stress on a daily basis.
Stress can have you worrying about every little thing and so you end up lacking the space in your mind to determine the tasks that are important and worth thinking about. Mindfulness meditation comes in handy for reducing anxiety and stress to provide a continuous feeling of relief even after you have removed your stressors. Meditation provides relief by giving you the head space to determine what genuinely demands your emotions, attention, and energy and what does not. Mindful meditation enables you to distinguish between the menial things and trivial ones, which affects your overall experience of anxiety and stress. When you lack this space in your life and your mind, you can feel an overwhelming sense of pressure, but mindful meditation gives you the clarity and space you require to organise all your priorities. Meditation also trains your mind to increase your mental resources so it can be clear, focused, and more capable of handling stressful situations. Try meditating with essential oils such as frankincense to deepen your meditation.
Yoga is also very effective in training the mind and body to deal with stress more effectively while enhancing your well-being and overall health. Yoga is a powerful combination of an underlying philosophy of awareness and self-compassion coupled with physical fitness. One of the primary principles of yoga is that the mind and body are both connected meaning that if one domain is affected by stress, then this will affect the other. Most of us either live in the mind or the body which creates a lack of awareness and an imbalance. Yoga helps in toning and balancing the connection between the mind and body while training the counter stress response system also known as the parasympathetic nervous system. Practicing yoga regularly promotes a reduction in stress hormone levels and an increase in heart variability, both of which translate into your stress tolerance ability. This has been indicated to improve following just a few yoga sessions. This can be practiced at home, just make a small investment in a yoga mat and there are plenty of yoga classes online you can do.
Aromatherapy has proven stress relief benefits and it is a good tool for the same because the known side effects are few if any. You can also use aromatherapy passively as you attend to other things and you can combine it with other stress relief tools for amplified effects. You can use aromatherapy oils during massage sessions as an enhanced and wonderful stress relief method and you can apply some of the aromatherapy oils, blended with carrier oils on the body’s pulse points for more therapeutic benefits. Electric aromatherapy diffusers are also a good way to feel the benefits and effects of essential oils. They are used to effectively evaporate essential oils into the air for a calming and soothing scent. Just add water and a few drops of a calming essential oil blend such as Calm, Restore or Sleepy Head. If you wanted to go for a single essential oil to ease stress and anxiety go for lavender, frankincense, cedarwood, mandarin, rosemary, ylang ylang or bergamot. They help to create a soothing atmosphere which helps to calm you down and relieve stress.
If you feel your mental health is suffering at the moment and wanted to use aromatherapy to offer some relief, read our blog on this subject here
Breathing exercises are an effective, and very simple way to reduce the effects of chronic stress, impede the stress response, and relieve stress. There are various breathing exercises you can try with each offering individual benefits and some being very effective for stress management.
Mindful diaphragmic breathing helps you become more mindful of how the body responds to stress by helping you take more notice of your breathing. This helps you monitor when you need to relax your breathing deliberately.
Counted breathing is very helpful as a meditation technique and for pacing as it allows you to stretch out your exhalation and lengthen your breaths.
Visualisation breathing involves breathing in deeply through the nose while imagining all the stress coming in then exhaling slowly and imagining the stress being released as you do so.
Other deep breathing techniques you can try for stress relief include alternate nostril breathing and deep cleansing breaths.
Reiki techniques are practiced to heal a person’s energy and they employ hands on and hands off healing. Reiki healing can help you reduce and relieve discomfort and pain through the balance of the energy centres in the body also referred to as the chakras. It is a very natural process that promotes healing of the body and relaxation by eliminating any obstructions that may prevent energy flow within the body to facilitate overall support and balance. Reiki healing aims to treat energy using energy as a relaxation and stress reduction technique. After a Reiki healing session, you will feel much more relaxed, calm, and grounded. Reiki can also often release stuck or negative energy, leaving you feeling lighter which can dramatically reduce stress.