Today life moves fast. We have crazy schedules from juggling the kids to practice to moving in and out of meetings all day to barely making it to that yoga class! The pace at which we are moving can sometimes seem chaotic leaving even the most talented multi-taskers a little disheveled from time to time. With technology advances, people glued to their phones at all times, and “constant checking” syndrome driving us to the edge it’s time to ask ourselves; is our “always on 24-hour lifestyle” wrecking even more havoc on our health than we realize? How can you find your calm in the chaos? The answer is simple: SLOW DOWN.
- About 8 in 10 Americans say they frequently (44%) or sometimes (35%) encounter stress in their daily lives.
- Just 17% say they rarely feel stressed, while 4% say they never do.
(Source: Gallup Poll – “Well-Being,” December 20, 2017)
We all know stress can wreak havoc on one’s physical and mental health; Yale researchers found that stress affects physiological functions in the brain, contributing to chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. Ouch!
And according to The American Institute of Stress – there are a few different levels of stress we will experience throughout our lifetime. See a few you are coping with right now? Yeah, us too.
Levels of Stress, according to The American Institute of Stress
Fight or flight. The body prepares to defend itself. It takes about 90 minutes for the metabolism to return to normal when the response is over.
The cost of daily living: bills, kids, jobs…This is the stress we tend to ignore or push down. Left uncontrolled this stress affects your health- your body and your immune system.
Stress in daily life that has positive connotations such as:
- Winning Money
- New Friends
Stress in daily life that has negative connotations such as:
- Negative feelings
- Financial Problems
- Work Difficulties
Here’s the thing – being in a constant state of ongoing stress is harmful. According to one Yale Study, prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control. The Yale research shows that stress actually makes it more challenging to deal with futurestress. But don’t get discouraged just yet! It’s not impossible to reduce your stress levels; you just need to make it a higher priority if you want to reverse this effect. The sooner you begin to manage your stress better and slow down, the easier it will be to keep unexpected stress from causing damage in the future.
The good news? The plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors. So implementing healthy stress-relieving techniques can literally retrain your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects. Now we are talking!
So don’t sweat it! Finding your calm is easier than you think…. Here’s a few ways you can begin to slow down and find your calm in the chaos…
#1 Time Management
Managing your time is a big one! Time is both personal and finite. It is personal in that the best statement of who you are is the way you spend your time. Your use of time reflects your needs, goals, and personality as does no other single thing. Time is finite in that each person has only 24 hours in a day, 168 hours a week, and 8,760 hours a year. According to stress.org – we sometimes create our own stress because of habits and traits that can have harmful effects that can be reduced using cognitive restructuring techniques such as behavioral modification, assertiveness training, time management and stress inoculation. So how you spend your time and manage it is key to reducing your stress, finding your calm, and slowing down. Learn to manage your time more effectively. Your schedule just too crazy? Check out Elon Musk’s ‘time blocking’ method to see how he manages time effectively even when his schedule is hectic.
Learn to say NO as much as you say YES. This allows you to exert control over your own life, and stop the feelings of overwhelmness in the chaotic world around you. Boundaries make happy and less stressed people because others are less likely to cross those boundaries. When someone understands what is o.k. and not o.k. with you, he or she must ask for permission to gain access to come closer to you. So once you’ve decided where to set your boundary, working on boundary-setting strategies and assertive communication techniques can bring some nice results in your life that include a reduction in stress as well as finding your calm by slowing things down.
#3 Practice Gratitude
Be thankful and start with the little things first. The wellness lifestyle & practicing mindfulness is a great example of this type of philosophy which helps reduce stress. Mindfulness is a simple, research-supported form of meditation that is an effective way to gain control of unruly thoughts and behaviors. People who practice mindfulness regularly are more focused, even when they are not meditating. It is an excellent technique to help reduce stress because it allows you to reduce the feeling of being out of control. Essentially, mindfulness helps you stop jumping from one thought to the next, which keeps you from ruminating on negative thoughts. Hence – more time to practice gratitude and being thankful for the little things. That’s where good behaviors start, one step at time, one positive thought at a time. Learn more with the Top 15 Must-Read Mindfulness Books Of All Time.
#4 Put Health at the Helm of Your Life with a Health Diet!
Often times what we eat (or don’t) can make our lives even more stressful. Did you know that digestive problems may occur with prolonged stress? Stress can make your digestive system go haywire, causing diarrhea, stomach upset, and excessive urination. That’s why often times dietitians suggest changing your diet and focusing on physical exercise to relieve tension and feelings of overwhelmness. Diet is such an important component of mental health as well that it has inspired an entire field of medicine called nutritional psychiatry. Mind-body medicine specialist Eva Selhub, MD has written a superb summary of what nutritional psychiatry is and what it means for you on one of Harvard’s blogs – definitely worth a read. What it boils down to is that what we eat matters for every aspect of our health, but especially our mental health, reducing stress, and finding your calm.
#5 Try a Yoga Class! (we love this one!)
Yoga improves flexibility, builds strength,increases muscle tone and definition, improves balance, supports joint health, prevents back pain, teaches better breathing, and increases self confidence. Turns out not only will you get your body shaped and toned and FEEL BETTER, but Yoga also has other benefits. According to Very Well Fit here are are two unexpected benefits of picking up that Yoga Class…
- Fosters Mental Calmness
Yoga asana practice is intensely physical. Concentrating so intently on what your body is doing has the effect of bringing a calmness to your mind. Yoga also introduces you to meditation techniques, such as how to focus on your breath and disengage from your thoughts. These skills can prove to be very valuable in intense situations off the mat, like childbirth, a bout of insomnia, or when having an anxiety attack.
- Reduces Stress Physical activity is good for relieving stress, and this is particularly true of yoga. Because of the concentration required, your daily troubles, both large and small, seem to melt away during the time you are on the mat. This provides a much-needed break from your stressors, as well as helping to put your problems into perspective.The emphasis yoga places on being in the present moment can also help as you learn not to dwell on past events or anticipate the future. You will leave a yoga class feeling less stressed than when you started.
#6 Need a little help calming down? Try Natural Remedies!
If you need to “come down” after a hectic day forget that glass of wine, and instead reach for some Ayurvedic tea or herbs and spices. Botanic remedies have been providing relief to individuals for thousands of years. While the Western world’s pharmaceutical industry has focused on isolating, synthesizing, and patenting specific chemicals and molecular compounds, the world of alternative remedies employs natural treatments stemming from the plant kingdom.
What Is Ayurvedic? (A•yur•ve•dic)
Ayurveda means the ‘science of life’. It is a 5,000-year-old Indian philosophy of holistic wellness addressing a wide variety of everyday conditions, including (but not limited to) stress, restlessness, lack of energy, and sleeplessness.
All-natural, and rooted in holistic wellness, Ayurveda treatments for stress relief include; dinacharya, a daily routine for a disciplined and healthy life; panchakarma or detoxification therapies such as virechana (purgation using herbs), vasti (medicated enemas), and nasyam (nasal administration of oils); yoga; dietary practices to balance your doshas; rejuvenating and adaptogenic herbs such as brahmi and ashwagandha etc; and adherence to moral practices. Learn more at FoodRevolution.org
What’s it all mean?
When life is moving fast – breathe, stay calm in the chaos. The the key to stress and time management is the ability to stop “doing” all the time and start “being” some of the time.” Basically, find your calm by slowing down and taking the world on at your pace. Stay healthy and prevent serious conditions from happening tomorrow, by practicing a healthy and happy life today.
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