We are living in stressful times. Being in a constant state of fight or flight means the body isn't able to relax, and the digestive, reproductive, and lymphatic systems don't get a chance to do their jobs with the constant circulation of stress hormones. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammation of the circulatory system, stroke, stomach ulcers, constipation or diarrhea, and acid reflux, among other things. Read more about the effects of stress on our health in this post.
Stressors, or triggers, can be real or imagined, and can include things that happen to us or circumstances of our lives. Having some tools to help buffer those stressors can mitigate the degree of strain we experience as a result. Strains are our physical and emotional reactions to the stressors, such as lack of sleep, anxiety, job dissatisfaction, or health issues.
For those of you who joined our newsletter list recently, you already received our Five Quick Tips to Stress Less, which included mindful breathing, the three good things practice, positive self talk, taking a walk, and tapping into the five senses. Mindful breathing is great for situations when you are triggered in the moment. Before reacting, taking 10-15 seconds to pause and take a long, deep breath can help you control your response.
Some other ways to relax include practicing yoga or tai chi, starting an art project, reading a favorite book or magazine, calling a friend, listening to music, watching an old movie, doing a word puzzle, journaling, or working in the garden. During these stressful times, give yourself a break - let a few things fall off your plate for now. Be sure you are getting plenty of sleep to allow your body to repair. Notice if you are craving unhealthy, comfort foods, and make more conscious, balanced food choices. Regular physical activity can relieve mental and physical tension, and the endorphins from exercise make you feel good and act as natural painkillers.
The buffers that I have been using most recently are eating healthy, being physically active, meditating daily, and keeping a positive outlook by focusing my attention on the good things that are in my life. I feel fortunate that I've been able to continue teaching yoga, and "see" my students online even though we can't be together in person right now. I'm lucky to have a great relationship with my husband, and to have four pets who offer companionship, unconditional love, and humor with all of their antics.
We want to hear from you. What are your top stressors, and what strains are you experiencing that could be related? Do you have a coping mechanism that works well for you? Comment to share your experience. If you need help creating balance in your life, let's talk about how we can help you!