Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain which results from excessive pressure on an individual. It is a by-product of the body reacting to excessive demand or threat. However, to relieve stress you have to find ways to relax your mind and maintain clarity in your thinking. Relaxation is simply the only way to avoid stress and burnout. To achieve and maintain this, there are variety of ways you can melt away stress and have a relaxed body, mind and spirit.
- Circuit Breaker: A circuit breaker is a way of ridding your mind of the problem that is causing your stress. You could decide to listen to your favourite songs, take the dog for a walk, watch your favourite film, or drink a cup of herbal tea. Circuit breakers are a great way to ease your stress, but they won’t get to the heart of the problem.
- Avoid Caffeine: As much as possible, if you are struggling with stress you should avoid the intake of caffeine. This is because caffeine is a catalyst that increases adrenaline in the body, a hormone which needs to be reduced in order to relax. Examples of foods to avoid include caffeinated coffee, chocolate, cola, and over 2 cups of tea daily.
- Maintain Blood Sugar Levels: To stabilise your mood, it is essential that your blood sugar level is maintained. This can be achieved by eating small quantities of food rich in protein on a regular basis (around every 3 hours). Tuna, brown rice, a handful of almonds, hard-boiled eggs. These foods have all been proven to maintain your blood sugar levels, which can help to lower your anxiety.
- Use Stress-Relieving Herbs: There are a number of herbs with calming properties, such as kava, chamomile and passionflower. Those that reduce the effect of stress on the body include Siberian ginseng, rhodiola, liquorice, and withania. Stress-relieving herbs can be consumed in the form of tea or capsules. It is vital that you read the label to get the right dosage.
- Breathe: Anxiety disrupts breathing. A stressed and anxious person will experience shallow breathing in the chest. This can be improved by consciously lengthening your breath or breathing deeper into your belly. Try repeatedly counting to three on the in-breath and four on the out-breath, until you feel your anxiety diminishing.
- Be Positive: Affirmation is a very simple technique used in overcoming stress as they are positive and calming. In situations when there is a high demand or threat on you, try telling yourself that ‘All will be well’ or ‘I always cope, just breathe and relax’.
- Speak to a Caring Person: To reduce your stress levels when a situation feels like it is getting out of your control, phoning or skyping with a friend or family member you are close to can help. This person may not necessarily be the solution to your problem, but getting it all off your chest can reduce your stress levels.
- Aromatherapy: This is the use of smell to bypass the cognitive brain. Light some incense, or burn some aromatherapy oil such as lavender or rose. This will help relax the part of your brain that controls worrying.
- Cocooning: This is an old technique that has been used for centuries to lower anxiety. When you feel totally overwhelmed, gently place both palms on each side of your face, with the fingers resting on your closed eyelids. This process cocoons the mind and relaxes you to feel more centred.
- Get Medical Assistance: It is important to seek help if anxiety and stress becomes regular and happens often in your life. A psychologist or counsellor should be your first point of contact. Always remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and not weakness.
Stress and anxiety often develop without notice. While undergoing your daily responsibilities, it is vital to take some time out to practise some of the anxiety-relieving exercises stated above in order to avoid burnout.
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