With the increase in stress day by day, more and more people are suffering from stress related illnesses, which can include ailments such as compromised immune system, pain in muscles and joints, high blood pressure, ulcers and heart disease, as well as the psychological fallout from stress which includes increased anger, anxiety and depression to name a few. Gabor Mate beautifully documents the “cost of hidden stress” in his book “When the body says no: The cost of hidden stress”.
As humans, we are meant to be a little stressed. In fact, the right amount of stress is optimal for your productivity and for your health. It creates a bit of a challenge and gets your adrenaline pumping in the right ways. The optimum stress level can even increase your motivation, clarity and performance.
But…when you go over your limit of how much stress you can handle, that is when stress creates negative issues within your life. The amount of stress that everyone can handle also differs per person. Some people can only cope with what others would deem very little stress while others can cope with so much stress it would knock some of us under the bus, depending on the makeup of the person, their personality and their coping strategies and skills.
It is not necessarily important to figure out what an overall appropriate amount of stress for the human race is, what becomes important is for you to know your optimal stress levels so you can keep yourself motivated, productive and happy. It will also allow you to get to know how to determine when you are in an overstressed state, so you can deal with it quickly and effectively before it becomes overwhelming and a detriment to you.
Once you are able to determine where your own stress levels fall (I actually have developed a video course that teaches you how to monitor your body to be able to have a greater awareness of stress along with all of your hyperarousal emotions including anger, anxiety, fear, etc. Click here to get your first four videos for free), the question then becomes “what do I do about it?” Well, that’s where I come in.
Here are 9 Unusual Ways to Manage Stress.
Why do you think adult coloring books have become sooooooo popular? Because people are finding them relaxing. They are cost effective and don’t take up a lot of brain power which makes them easy to grab after a long and hard day of work. Actually any form of art whether it be painting, coloring, singing, dancing and making or creating anything can act as an emotional and stress releasing outlet. The physical act of creating helps to reduce adrenaline. Pent up emotion is released in the creation of art, which is one of the reasons you tend to have such a strong emotional connection to your art pieces. Artistic creation often uses your subconscious mind and when led through artistic exercises, can lead you through different roads and pathways of emotional exploration and growth. Julia Cameron has done extensive work in this area in her book “The Artist’s Way”.
Eating yourself through stress is a great way to get you through, but…..not in the way you think. Often the foods that make you feel better are the same foods that actually create more stress for you. When you are eating a carb, caffeine and processed sugar overload, you are getting short blips of energy that are used quickly and when that fuel is emptied your system crashes. Not only do you end up feeling worse because of this, but you end up with
- Reduced energy
- Compromised immune system (all of these things are extremely hard on your adrenals)
- Increased stress as your body tries to get you back to optimal functioning and your brain is starved due to lack of real nutrition
These unhealthy foods also tend to cause weight gain and sleep difficulties which become major stresses for the majority of people.
So…what foods are going to help you instead of hinder you? There are so many, but some that could definitely work to replace those stress causing foods include :
- Green tea (is chock full of antioxidants which helps reduce stress)
- Dark chocolate (I have a great and easy all natural recipe for that, email me if you want it and I will get it to you)
- Citrus fruits are known to boost your energy and keeps you alert and awake
- Extra Tip – do not eat citrus fruit too close to bedtime, especially if you struggle with sleep issues as it will keep you awake
- Green leafy vegetables are known to have folate in them which helps to produce mood regulating neurotransmitters in your brain. This helps to promote happier feelings while reducing the risk of depression
- Blueberries have an abundance of antioxidants and vitamin C
While exercise is becoming more of a well known stress reliever I thought I would still include it as it is so important. A study out of Harvard found that when you increase your heart rate for 60 minutes or longer at least three times a week, it has similar effects to an anti depressant. This happens as exercise is widely known to regulate neurotransmitters and increase those happy endorphins among so many other benefits.
Animal lovers will love this one. Do you ever notice how you feel calmer with your furry friends beside you? Many studies have now come out exploring the positive effects that animals have on your brain. It has been shown that animals help to increase your oxytocin levels and create positive changes within the human brain. There are now many different types of animal therapies being introduced such as equine therapy and therapy dogs for these exact reasons. Not only does this help to teach stress reduction, but it also helps with emotional regulation and empathy which are extremely important skills to learn.