Feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Your not alone. In fact 26% of Australian experience moderate to severe stress on a daily basis. In addition, stress is often accompanied by feelings of anxiety and depression.
Whether it's the demands of deadlines at work, juggling after-school activities for the kids, or financial pressures that come with the ever increasing cost of living, all while trying to maintain some kind of social life. We all experience some form of stress.
What's more, this often leads us to neglect our own health to meet the needs of everyone around us. In a time where we really need to be supporting and nourishing our bodies.
So how can you reduce your stress? I am here to show you 6 of the best self care rituals you can incorporate easily into your day to reduce stress.
I was just discussing the benefits of meditation with a dear friend and colleague the other day. I told her I have never been good with meditation because I have never been able to shut my mind off. She enlightened me with the concept that it's not about shutting off the mind, no one is able to do that. It's more about learning to just sit in the moment without distractions and that in today's world this is something we don't get the privilege to do. If your like me and don't think you can meditate, try a guided meditation, there are so many apps you can get these days. In fact studies have shown that as little as 15 minutes of meditation a day can reduce psychological stress, including anxiety, depression and even pain.
2. Practice gratitude
Science is beginning to take notice of the concept of practicing gratitude. Several studies have shown that this technique has benefits on social, physical and psychological health. This is thought to be due to shifting the focus on what makes you happy rather than focusing on the negatives in life. Research outcomes have shown improvements in anxiety and depression, increased happiness and joy, better quality sleep and makes us more resilient. So how do you practice gratitude? Start your day listing (on paper or in your head) 5 things your grateful for. You can also do this in the evening of 5 things throughout the day you were grateful for.
This ones a no brainer. We know for a fact that exercise and movement reduces levels of cortisol, our stress hormone. Even something as little as a stroll around the block at the end of a long day can be a great way of decompressing. It gives you the time away from technology and others to process the days activities and what needs to be a focus for the next so that come bedtime your ready to just sleep and you have left all of that on the walk.
4. Make a cup of herbal tea
Try switching out that cup of coffee or black tea for a herbal variety such as lemon balm, chamomile or valerian. These herbs in particular have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety while improving sleep quality.
The ritual of tea making is something that's been around for centuries in many cultures. It forces you to slow down and take note of what your doing and take in the aroma of the herbs as you sip the warm tea.
There is a yogic breathing exercise called Nadi Shodhana also known as alternate nostril breathing that has an incredible effect on relieving stress immediately. By controlling your breath your bringing your focus from external sources back to the task at hand. This shifts your nervous system away from the sympathetic (fight or flight) back to the parasympathetic (rest and digest). In fact you could argue that this is in fact a form of mindfulness. Just 10 minutes of Nadi Shodhana has the ability to reduce stress and anxiety, oxygenate the blood, quiet the mind, enhance respiratory function and balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain allowing for more mental clarity.
6. Nourish your body
Lastly, and most importantly, make sure that what your fueling your body with is nourishing and restorative. As the saying goes, eat crap and you’ll feel crap. In fact there are certain foods and food groups that will add stress to the body by causing oxidative damage. These foods include refined sugars, alcohol, artificial sweeteners and excessive amounts of caffeine.
Now i’m not saying you need to run out and begin implementing all of these rituals every day. Start with one or two (nutrition should be first) and make this part of your everyday routine. As time goes on you might find yourself using a few more or you may find that one or two was enough to curb the effects of stress.
Still needing more support? Book a consultation where we can discuss your individual needs to manage stress and associated symptoms.