Stress and everyday life
We have all experienced anxiety and stress at some point in our lives. Whether it's a new start, an important job or a new challenge we have to deal with, stress is there and to some extent it's helpful. It’s a feeling that puts you in a state of "alertness" and can -at times- make you more productive or motivate you to respond effectively to the situation at hand.
That stands when stress is present in small doses and under specific stimuli. However nowadays, with most of us trying to balance the pressures of the workplace, taking care of family or relationships and somewhere in between, maintaining a good social life,, stress has escaped from the small framework that should normally exist having evolved into a dominant element of our everyday life. And a daily life in permanent alertness is simply exhausting.
What can you do
Well one thing is for sure, stressful factors and situations exist and will continue to exist in the lives of all of us. This is something that is largely out of your control. What you do have full control over is your reaction. The way you respond to the world around you and the stimuli you receive. Your life’s attitude, with all the habits it includes. Some of them help you maintain your mental peace and balance, while some favor the development of extra stress.
How can you cultivate balance?
Breathing exercises help. But if you want a long-term change, this can only happen by cultivating habits that promote your overall well-being and recognizing those that act as a burden on your stress levels and overall mental state. So if you are looking for ways to relieve stress, today is a good opportunity to consider starting one of the following.
Recognize stress and its effect on your life All too often we hear people say that stress helps them to be more productive and able to carry out their responsibilities. And this is true to a degree, or rather for some time. Our body can and sometimes needs to work in full mode. But for how long? How long can one function in a state of alertness before burning out? I've been that person and if I've learned anything is that if you don't recognize and stop the cycle of stress your body will find a way to stop you. Surely you must also have examples of many people around you who suffer from psychosomatic symptoms, which nowadays seem to flourish. Coincidence?
Make food your ally. There are foods that have been proven to be relaxing for our bodies, such as almonds, spinach, avocado or salmon. On the other hand, there are those that cause irritation either because they have a lot of sugar, salt, or in general they have undergone a lot of processing. These are the "allies" of stress. And while most of us know which foods have a negative effect on our bodies, causing e.g. cellulite, few know how they work in our psychology and ultimately in our everyday life. By knowing the properties of the food you receive you can use them to your advantage on a holistic level.
- Sleep. Good sleep is extremely beneficial for your overall well-being and the most important process for the recovery of body and soul. It is no coincidence that after a good night's sleep you are in a better mood and respond more easily to daily demands, while a sleepless night results in you being more irritable. Our sleep needs are 8-9 hours a day (yes, a study recently came out that claims that due to hormones and different needs, women need more sleep than men) and when these are not met, our stress levels rise. By creating and maintaining a good sleep routine you help yourself to better manage daily sources of stress and enjoy a more balanced everyday life.
- Put movement in your life. Especially if you lead a sedentary life it is necessary to move, even if it is for a 20 minute walk a day. Our bodies store tension and the healthiest way to release it is through movement. In recent years, many psychiatrists and psychologists recommend some form of physical exercise to people suffering from anxiety or depression as an additional aid during treatment. This recommendation is not due to some new age trend but to scientific studies that have shown that regardless of age, the more systematic moves, and exercises, the lower the stress indicators they present. We often hear that we need to exercise to keep our bodies strong and healthy, but we overlook the multiple benefits that movement has on our mental health. And yet almost everything starts from there, from our mental health.
- Cultivate mindfulness. Past decisions or uncertainty about the future fill you with thoughts that are hard to get out of your mind, creating a state of constant anxiety and stress. Very often these thoughts become almost obsessive leading to a continuous "regurgitation" of events or situations. Don't let yourself fall into this trap. And if you catch him in action just say STOP. The solution to this tendency of your mind is mindfulness, and by cultivating it you are essentially training your mind to focus on the present, without judgment. This very ability is also the key to reducing stress and your overall happiness. Meditation is a wonderful practice that "trains" you in this technique and one of the things worth starting today. If you don't know how, at the end of the article you will find 3 applications (2 in English & 1 in Greek) with guided and unguided meditations that will help you get started.
- Get help from nature.Nature has equipped us with some pretty powerful allies that can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. The following, as research has shown, have the greatest impact.
- Magnesium (especially gluconate):Hundreds of metabolic processes in our body depend on magnesium. Research shows that magnesium glycinate helps relieve stress, promotes bone health, eases heart rate, improves athletic performance, and promotes good quality sleep.
- CBD (cannabidiol):Thanks to many researches, scientists have found that CBD oil can have many benefits in enhancing our mental health. Studies have shown that CBD helps alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety through its ability to interact with our own endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system (which is present in all mammals), is a part of our nervous system that helps maintain the overall balance of the body, influencing appetite, anxiety, pain sensation, mood, but also functions of the immune system and inflammation control.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is a key herb in Ayurveda, India's traditional system of medicine. Known as an adaptogenic herb, it is believed to help the body cope with physical and mental stress. Studies have shown that ashwagandha can effectively reduce cortisol, the body's main stress hormone.
- Reishi mushroom: Reishi mushrooms are adaptogens that can have a calming effect and help relieve everyday stress. Reishi is perhaps the most widely studied mushroom. It has been shown to help regulate the release of stress hormones that affect mood and emotion by balancing the levels of cortisol and adrenaline that rise when we are stressed. Sometimes stress is unavoidable, but adaptogens like Reishi can help you get over it faster.
The above habits will help you enjoy a calmer everyday life. As William James (American psychologist and philosopher) once very wisely said, "the greatest weapon we have against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another." I will paraphrase it a bit and say that our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose, our thoughts, our actions, our habits.
Meditation Appshttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mindfulness.greece.meditation&hl=el&gl=US (GR)