5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Daily Stress Response
5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Daily Stress Response
There is no way to completely avoid stress, especially today. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take some control back and manage life’s challenges before they become overwhelming. Use these five tips to help you find some relief from what is stressing you out.
Whether you’re walking around the neighborhood or have exercise equipment at home, movement can be a powerful tool in improving your mood and keeping your body healthy. The key here is to try and do some type of exercise daily. Harvard Medical School recently updated a study on the benefits of exercise and relaxation, indicating that exercise reduces stress hormones in the body while stimulating production of the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. The study also shows any type of exercise, such as swimming, walking, or tai chi, can help with stress reduction.
Drink More Water
A 2017 study investigating the impact of hydrogen-rich water consumption suggests that dehydration affects cognitive function, and even mild dehydration can lead to decreased concentration. Keeping a water bottle around you at all times can help reduce the potential for dehydration.
Tools for Proper Sleep
The Sleep Foundation features a “Healthy Sleep Tips” section on their website where they identify several key elements for proper sleep. Not surprising, the first point is to keep a schedule. Maintaining the same bedtime every night, as well as the same wake up time in the morning, helps your body keep an internal clock.
If you’re still having trouble, the American Sleep Association’s website offers a variety of resources for getting a better night’s sleep, from sleep aid products to information on sleep disorders.
The American Psychological Association defines mindful meditation as: “achieving a mental state of calm concentration and positive emotions.” The simplest form of meditation is closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing. To take your meditation practice one step further, cultivate acceptance of your current situation and being fully present.
We all have something to be thankful for every day. Gratitude journals help us consciously take inventory of our day and help us be totally in the present moment. There are many journals available, but you don’t need anything fancy; a simple pad of paper and your favorite writing utensil will do. The goal is to get you thinking about the positives, even on days when it’s easier to focus on challenges. We all have a mix of both in our day-to-day activities, so focusing on the positives will help us not just notice them, but try to create more of them in the future.
Tools for Success
Equipping ourselves with the proper tools to handle stress will help us better live out our true potential. Identifying stress triggers is a precursor in learning how to cope and handle your unique response. Just like the self-care journey many embarked on at the beginning of the year, your journey through stress management will help you become better able to handle challenges in and out of your massage practice.
Tips from Your Peers
Don McCann, a licensed mental counselor, recently shared a few techniques on how to manage the stresses brought on by these trying times. McCann suggests being mentally present in the moment, spending time outdoors in nature, and focusing on positive thoughts, among many other considerations.
Dr. Brent Wells, DC, founder and chiropractor at Better Health Anchorage in Anchorage, Alaska, reﬂects on how he deals with stress by saying, “On those days when it seems like I’m going to explode or nothing I do makes me feel better, I try to remember that, if I’m worried about something, all of the worries in the world won’t stop something from happening nor will it cause something to happen.” Some common tell-tale signs that Wells identiﬁes as stressors include neckache and tight shoulders. “When I feel that, I know that it’s time to turn off the phone and start doing progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). I take a deep breath, press on different muscle groups, and ease the pressure as I breathe out. Since the body responds to stress with muscle tension, PMR helps get rid of that tension.” Wells also recommends paying attention to your posture since slumping or slouching can be signs you’re submitting to stress that also causes overall damage to your posture. “I stand up tall assuming a more dominant stature, expand my body, and take a break from the thing that stresses me out.”
John F. Barnes, PT, LMT, of Myofacial Release Seminars, advocates learning more about myofascial techniques and how it can help to combat stress. Barnes says, “In our society, we are not trained well to handle stress. Fighting against it, worrying about it, talking about it, only it seems to make it worse.” Barnes continues by explaining how pre-existing fascial restrictions can also hold stress, “[this is] magnifying the tension already there.” Receiving myofascial release can help you reduce the stress in your body and resultant symptoms and eventually help you be able to deal with stress with the philosophy like a mist of information… let it ﬂow through you, respond to it and let it go!”
Ann Brown, CEO and founder of Saltability, likes to tackle stress by starting each morning with a meditation. “I also use emotional freedom techniques (EFT) and some spa rituals like baths with essential oils and Himalayan salt.” Brown also likes to stay active by taking boxing lessons. “I love boxing—it really clears my mind as it is very strategic and you truly need to be in the ‘now’ to be able to defend yourself,” she adds.
We love hearing from readers like you. Share your stress relieving tips with us here.
To get you started on a stress-free mindset, print out or copy this section into your gratitude journal/notepad and ﬁll it out at your own pace. You can add to this list as you go along to make it uniquely your own.