Stop Seeing Stress As The Enemy

Why we need to Stop Seeing Stress as the Enemy

In today’s high demand world, stress is almost inevitable. We encounter stressors at home, at work, in the news, and in almost every facet of everyday life. And this stress is not without consequences. More and more research is showing that stress is one of the main underlying factors in several diseases and deficiencies as well as digestive issues, weight problems, and even allergies. Stress has become vilified, and we are cautioned to avoid it at all costs by doctors, coaches, friends, and family.

The first time I was told to “reduce” the amount of stress in my life, I embraced the challenge as an attainable goal picturing sunset walks and morning meditation sessions. Then, reality hit and I realized that “reducing” stress is a lot easier said than done. Instead of decreasing the amount of stress, I only transferred it- and in some cases made it worse. Case in point, work. After identifying work as a stressor, I began to cut back-subsequently decreasing my paycheck while increasing my stress over finances. Trying to reduce my stress was stressing me out more than ever before.

What I, and thousands of other individuals, failed to realize is that stress is not the enemy. In fact, stress is often necessary for productivity and survival. The problem arises not with the amount of stress we have, but with our failure to MANAGE it in a healthy and productive way. Our perceptions and coping mechanisms have been recognized by many researchers as the REAL determinate of the negative effects of stress. Learning to manage stress in a healthy way is, therefore one of the most important things we can do to maintain wellness.

Sunset Meditation

Here are five things you can do to manage your stress:

Change your mindset.

Often, stress arises from the emotions and meaning we attach to an event or outcome. Mastering our emotional response to these things is key to the healthy management of stress. You choose how you want to feel about, and react to, any situation.

Practice wellness.

Nourish your mind, body, and soul. Choose nutrient dense and minimally processed foods and drink plenty of water. Exercise. Learn, read, and stay inspired by exposing yourself to a variety of resources and empowering experiences. Take time for yourself in nature and spend times doing what you love with those you love. Remind yourself of what you are grateful for in this life.

Learn to relax.

Calm your nervous system, which is most likely in high gear. Practice meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and/or Tai chi. Spend some time at the spa or getting a massage. Listen to relaxing music and use peaceful imagery. Find what relaxes you, it is not the same for everyone.

Get some sleep.

Not only is sleep essential for proper brain functioning, but it is one of the best ways to “reset” the nervous system. Make your bedroom a peaceful place in which you are able to get quality sleep on a regular basis. Having trouble sleeping? Kick the electronics out of the bedroom and avoid any stimulating activities, foods, or beverages within 1 hour of going to bed. Many things affect your sleep quality, so be prepared to adjust the lighting, temperature, and furniture positioning.

Get it out.

Sometimes we just need to vent. Write about it, talk about it, paint a picture or write a song. Talking to a friend or loved one not only reinforces social connection, but also helps us to work through our stressors with someone we trust.

Remember, you have the power to choose the way you think. It’s time to stop seeing stress as an enemy. Choose to change your mind about stress and you will then change the way your body reacts to it.

Find a great talk on how to make stress your “friend” instead of your enemy here: http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en

– Coach Karina

The How-To on Getting A Good Night’s Sleep

As a group of working people such as ourselves, it’s hard to just shut your mind off to all the things that surround you at home, work, and in bed. Screaming children, sirens, snoring of your significant other, and all other types of WHITE NOISE. And what is our solution? We toss and turn and toss and turn until we are restless and our eyes are begging for some rest. Here are a few tips to try out at home, to help put your body and mind at ease so that your lack of sleep won’t effect your work, studying, and other activities of daily life.

 

1. Mental Imagery – Imagine yourself walking in a new room you have never seen before; picture yourself walking through rooms, and hallways, winding down staircases, or even dialoging with someone else. It stimulates the hormones in your brain to help induce sleep. Who would have thought?!

2. Lower your Core Body Temperature – One of the biggest causes of insomnia is overheating, which makes any human being uncomfortable. Try sleeping in light clothes, and maybe try a shower before bed to allow your body to obtain a peak core temperature and slowly cool down, also inducing sleep.

3. Find that Right Position – Tossing and turning to find the right position is always a tough battle with insomniacs. Really pay attention to positions that begin to pull you into a slumber and try laying in that same position every night before you go to bed. The fetal position is actually one of the most common positions that help with sleep, so give it a shot!

4. Contract and Relax – Just like in yoga and pilates, your body naturally will want to relax by practicing the contract, relax technique. Start from your toes, contracting the toes and then relax; move to the arches of the foot and repeat. Then to the calves, knees, quads, hip/pelvis, etc. all the way to your neck. Focus on the relaxation and breath while doing this exercise. Trust me, your body will thank you.

5. Resist all Temptations – Your body is an amazing thing; when you are ready for bed and get all comfortable, your body “tests” itself to make sure you are ready for sleep. Ever feel your limbs tingling? Slight pressure all over your body? It’s your brain telling your body to “sleep”! Be strong and resist that temptation to scratch that itch or roll over and over. Get comfy and just RELAX.

Give them a shot, try something new; Next thing you know, you may be counting sheep 😀