We all suffer stress to various degrees; it is kind of unavoidable. But, it being an all-consuming entity that destroys our health is not inevitable. Some of us brag about high stress levels like it is something to be proud of– it is not. It produces all sorts of changes in the body that increase the risk of deadly conditions from heart disease to cancer. Our mental health suffers greatly, and our happiness and satisfaction with life can take a major hit. While you may not think so, stress is something you can keep in check; it does not have to rule you. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Surprise, surprise, meditation is my number one suggestion. But, as a regular meditator, and a writer who has read countless studies on meditation in researching assignments, I firmly believe there is nothing more beneficial for beating stress, and improving mental and physical health in general. So much of our stress comes not from the situations we face, but how we perceive and respond to them. That is something we have control over, even though it may not feel like it at the time.
This is because how we act a lot of the time is ingrained and habitual. Meditation takes us off auto-pilot and helps us see things more clearly, so we can respond rather than react without even thinking. It creates a space between our pure consciousness and the thoughts and feelings we are experiencing. In this space, we can observe without getting all caught up. A calmer mind is a clearer mind, and a clearer mind is a less stressed mind.
Be a Bit More Selfish
When I talk about being selfish, I do not mean doing whatever you want at all costs, no matter how it affects other people. I mean giving yourself the attention and nurturing that you are probably depriving yourself of because of feelings of guilt, obligation, fear of how other people will view you and reluctance to say ‘’no.’’ I would probably throw in a bit of martyrdom for good measure. We are taught that we should always put other people’s needs above our own and it is all hogwash. Yes, there is great pleasure to be had in helping others and doing things just for the benefit of others. But, we often take this idea to the extreme, and we think anything we want for ourselves is ‘’selfish.’’ Constantly living your life for other people, and ignoring your own needs, is a major source of stress for many people and it does not have to be that way. You will be better for your kids and other people when you are in a good frame of mind and in good health. You have every right to make your own health and happiness a priority, and if that means not being on every committee at your child’s school, or bending to your spouse’s every whim, so be it.
Diet and Supplements
Unfortunately, in our society, we have grown dependent on pharmaceuticals to cure every ill we suffer from; while they certainly have their place in certain situations, often times, they are used in cases where more natural approaches will do, approaches that will not only address the specific health concern, but your overall wellness. Diet has a major impact on mood, and you will be surprised how much your mental state improves when your diet does; omega-3 fatty acids are particularly good for mental health. Processed carbohydrates and sugar-rich foods and drinks can cause chemical changes in the body that may make us feel more stressed and anxious. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, can produce a more calming effect. There are many herbs that are known to reduce stress and help the body cope better with environmental stressors such as clove, licorice root, passion flower, lavender, rhodiola, holy basil and ashwaghanda.
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