Sweaty palms. Heartbeat racing. Faster breathing. Muscle tension. Heightened senses.
These symptoms are usually motivators essential to survival. But I used to think of stress as a negative factor in my daily life, when in reality, it is in fact as inevitable as breathing. Almost anything can cause stress, which if not handled properly it can lead to other negative reactions.
I constantly come across changes and challenges that are usually out of my control. And as a natural defence, my body reacts against these factors, where it can either push me to get things done or I can get so overwhelmed that I find it hard to concentrate.
As everything else in life, too much of anything is bad. It is important to point out that we all react differently to stress, but long term stress can lead to anxiety and serious health problems, affecting both our mental and physical state.
Yet sometimes, we forget that we are responsible to control how we respond to a stressful situation. Yes, our body reacts automatically but we have to figure out how to deal with these reactions and try to make a life out of it. In honour of Stress Awareness Month, here are a few stress-management-mechanisms that I have personally included as part of my lifestyle.
SWEATING STRESS, THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
When I feel I have so much stress piled up inside to the point that I will literally explode, my mechanism of choice is blowing up steam in a beast mode workout. One where I can feel I’m sweating all of the stress out of my system.
It can be either a boxing session, a 40 minute run on the tread-mill or an indoor-cycling class, whatever that would help my body to be stress-free. If my body feels better, so would my mind.
Regular exercise decreases level of tension, so staying physically active would stabilise your mood, improve your sleep and self esteem, your body will be generating endorphins which are famously known as natural painkillers.
Tip: it’s essential for you to fit into your daily routine at least a 15 minute workout. It will stimulate anti-anxiety effects in your system.
A medicinal experience that would work wonders for your mind, body and soul. Getting in contact with nature, is the place where you will disconnect-to-connect. Take deep breaths, absorb your surroundings and let everything else go. Some might not have a fascination for the outdoors, but I can assure you it has been scientifically proven that “nature can be beneficial for your mental health”.
“Forest Bathing”, for example, is a Japanese trend where you immerse yourself in a forest setting to calm your senses in a busy world.
“Take a deep breath inhaling through your nose, count to four… hold your breath to the count of seven and exhale completely through your mouth…”
Feel relaxed? Controlling your breathing is an instant mechanism to de-stress. Closing your eyes and focusing completely on the sensation of inhaling-exhaling is a central part of mindfulness meditation and it reduces the effects of stress.
FIND YOUR OWN THING
Discovering your own de-stressor will become a very personal and intimate hobby. Having something that you enjoy and at the same time helps you relax is a great mechanism.
It can go from listening to music, painting, reading a book or doing a puzzle, the important thing is that it should be something that keeps your mind off things that affect your state of being.