Is it just me, or have you noticed how everyone is stressed these days? Even primary school kids? It’s a word we all seem to use, every single day. Everything seems to be “so stressful” and everyone seems to be “so stressed out”?
Stress is Toxic for the Body:
1. STRESS DEHYDRATES THE (ARGUABLY ALREADY DEHYDRATED) BODY
2. STRESS CAUSES INFLAMMATION – WHICH LIES BEHIND EVERY CHRONIC DISEASE
3. STRESS WEAKENS OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Ask Yourself - “Why am I stressed?”
You want to identify the causes of stress in your life and eliminate them. If there is something you can change about your routine or your work to reduce any likelihood of feeling stressed, you have to do it. It is a medical necessity. Maybe you get stressed trying to get to work in time and do all the things you want to do in the morning? So, perhaps getting up 20 minutes earlier in the morning would help you carry out your morning routine calmly with plenty of time to get everything done.
Stress is really just fear – and seeing as stress does not serve your body in any way, shape or form I wholeheartedly recommend that you completely banish the word ‘stress’ from your vocabulary. Simply, the more you use that word, the more you will be attracting things to feel stressed about. The word ‘stress’ merits a health warning. Remember, behind all chronic disease lies inflammation – and stress causes inflammation in the body.
You always have a choice in how you respond to every situation; too many of us are falling into the trap of making stress our default response. But will it help you deal with the situation any better?
Ways to Make You Bulletproof in the Face of Stress:
1. Take Time Each Day and Practice Meditation
The word ‘meditation’ can turn people off almost immediately - even I was a bit sceptical up until a few years ago. But meditation is really just pausing and being still. Now, how often do we allow ourselves to do that? We’re constantly bombarded with distractions and noise: work, emails, TV, social media, text messages, music, family members, chores... constant demands on our time and attention. Is it any wonder that so many of us feel stressed in the first place?
Taking time out to sit quietly and just focus on your breath, even if that means going to the loo and locking the door for 5 minutes to just ‘be’. There are hundreds of ‘Guided Meditation’ Apps out there, and they are great for helping you to clear your mind, slow things down and for giving you some breathing space. In the age of constant communication and noise - breathing space is what we so desperately need.
I like to follow a Louise Hay guided meditation before I even get out of bed in the morning and it sets the tone for my whole day, and then I use one just before bed so that I leave the day behind and sleep well.
2. Make Time in Your Day for Something You Love To Do
Let’s just remind ourselves that life is a gift – none of us know when our time is going to be up. So, it is important to enjoy the journey and to do something each day that brings us joy. When we do the things that we enjoy, we feel good! Here are some simple ideas:1. LISTEN TO YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC
2. READ A CHAPTER IN YOUR NEW BOOK
3. DOODLE/DRAW/EVEN PAINT BY NUMBERS
4. PLAY A BOARD GAME WITH YOUR KIDS
5. PHONE/SKYPE A REALLY GOOD FRIEND
3. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude
This nudges us towards the principles of the Law of Attraction: whatever you predominantly focus your attention on, you will attract and “get” more of. If you have a negative outlook and are prone to feeling stressed, depressed or anxious, it’s more likely that you will have something to worry or stress about. And conversely, when we feel good, we create a positive attitude and outlook.
Gratitude, giving thanks, is a very simple and powerful technique to help you quickly change your focus to a more positive one. Gratitude has been shown to improve mental health and reduce feelings of depression (where people were reported as 25% happier compared to those who focused on their misfortunes or annoyances).
I want to encourage you to start a ‘gratitude journal’ – it can be a piece of paper or a wee notebook beside your bed. And last thing at night, you can start by writing down just five things you are grateful for today - there will be at least 5 things, I promise.
You can be grateful for simple things like the clothes that have kept you warm all day, or for the comfy bed you will sleep in tonight. You can give thanks for the last meal you had, and thanks to the farmers, drivers and shops who all made it possible for you to enjoy your food. We can give thanks for the tiny things in our lives as well as the major achievements.
The more we look for the blessings in life, the more they tend to appear when we least expect them. If you feel stressed, depressed or angry, then you might need to find ten, twenty or thirty things (!) to be grateful for... keep giving thanks until you start to feel a shift in focus.
4. Proper Rest
Modern technology is a wonderful thing, but it has conned us slightly into thinking that we are superhuman, when we are still very much human! Electricity allows us to stay up as late as we want at night and we’ve almost been conned into thinking that sleep isn’t that important.
But sleep is vitally important, it is when our bodies have a chance to heal and repair, so we need to be sleeping well and at the right time. The healing hormones kick in from 10pm until 2am, so ideally we want to be winding down from around 9pm (reducing our exposure to artificial lights and screens, which affect our sleep quality) and be heading to bed between 10pm and 11pm.
At The Body Toolkit retreats we look deeper at stress and the role we allow it to play in our lives, and you have the time to really kick start new habits and attitudes. If you are curious about what a retreat could do for you, you're welcome to email me - firstname.lastname@example.org