Methods of Stress Reduction
In the current society we live in today, reducing stress is as important as drinking water. It should be done on a daily level. When I say daily level, I don't mean hours and hours daily. I understand that we have our lives to live, but we need to make a focus on reducing stress levels, even if it is only 15 mins a day or at least most days.
If you have read the blog post on 'stress and cortisol', you would know that stress and cortisol has a huge impact on obesity and diabetes. The effects cortisol has on insulin which together, become a lethal combination for weight gain. We can understand and learn to control insulin with our nutrition which is of utmost importance, however, if we disregard our lifestyles and we ignore our stress levels, that effort of improving nutrition might still mean that results will come short. This is why we need to pay attention to our stress levels also.
This blog post will cover some tips we can start to implement to help ourselves create a more stress free lifestyle:
DAILY SOLITUDE (ME TIME) - This is exactly what it sounds like, make some time out for you everyday. It could just be as little as 15 mins daily. It is time to leave some time for yourself, self love and self care is not selfish, it is needed. As we know, cortisol is a hormone that is produced in response to stress, so taking time out of your day for yourself can help reduce these high stress levels. When we take a pause from our daily life and step back from everything for a short amount of time, this stops the overactive stress response. It let's our bodies slowly reset and go back into our parasympathetic nervous system (our state of calm) instead of our sympathetic nervous system (our state of fight or flight).
Just by taking out 15mins-30mins of our day can have an effect in normalising our cortisol levels, our body will be reminded that it is not under attack. If we are someone that says we don't have time for this, we are the people that need it the most. When it comes to applying daily solitude, there are some tips we should follow to get the most out of our solitude, and they are:
- It must be something for you and you alone, something you actually enjoy
- It must not involve your smartphone, laptop, ipad/tablet or TV
- You must not feel guilty about it
Some examples of activities could be going for a walk, reading a book, having a bubble bath, getting a massage, cooking, painting, dancing and meditation/yoga just to name a few.
SCREEN FREE TIME - this means that leave a certain amount of time or a complete day where you don't use your phone. This could be a whole day, Sunday for example, or it could at least be a few hours. Put your devices on silent or do not disturb so you will not receive those bings and buzzes every few minutes. We already know that social media usage is a key factor when it comes to depressing and mental health issues. We have become used to the dopamine effects of social media and our phones, that is why we always check our likes and follows. We are slowly becoming addicted to our phones, and the thing we need to know is that whether we realise it or not, our phones are bringing us into a reactive state. Being in a reactive state is another way you can easily put yourself in a state a stress, as we compare ourselves to others and their lives.
We need to alter how we use our phones. If we can't go cold turkey and have a full day without your phone, start by just turning off your notifications for an hour. Then slowly we can increase that time. When we have our phones off or no notifications, we must resist the urge to look at it. Spend this time doing something for yourself and with family and friends. This is another way for you to completely relax and be present. If you can't have a complete day off your phone due to whatever reason, have a certain part of everyday without your phone. That could mean every night after work you have your phone off, or every morning before work you don't turn on your phone and you have breakfast with your family. The most important thing is to do something.
GRATITUDE JOURNALING - This is something that is so simple yet we don't think about it or realise how much it can affect our stress levels. Every morning after you wake up or every night before you sleep, write down what you are grateful for. This simple but highly effective. Feel free to continue to journal and express yourself after you have written down what you are grateful for. Three questions you should ask yourself is: What did I learn today?
What made me happy or content today?
Did I do anything to make someone else happy or content today?
Writing down what you are grateful for is a good way to switch your mind to a more positive way of thinking. Journalling can be a way to express your stress, frustration or any other emotion you may be feeling that day. Once you express it, it is relieved even if it is the slightest, it makes a difference. Writing it down engages more senses and influences change in behaviour and mental state much more than just thinking it. This is why keeping a gratitude journal is a good idea to create a more stress free lifestyle and a grateful attitude.
MEDITATION - This is one of the most old school yet effective methods of reducing stress. Meditations main and possibly only goal is to create stillness and calm in our lives. Even though sometimes when we try to meditate, we might find it hard to focus, the act of controlled deep breathing will have a good effect.
Meditation can be done in many forms. It could just be listening to your favourite songs without any distractions and eyes closed. Hear the drumbeat, hear the vocals, that is called musical meditation. Meditation can aim in focus and concentration, it helps us out focus on our breathing or on a certain thought. It takes us out of our busy lifestyle for a brief moment and allows us to concentrate on ourselves and our minds. Meditation is one of the most effective ways to turn our minds from our fast paced life and slow down into a state of calm.
One of the simplest ways of doing this is closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing. Slow down your breathing and focus on each breath going in and out. When you breathe out longer than you breathe in, it helps put your body in its parasympathetic nervous system. Slow breathing also helps calm your body down. As little as 5 mins can make a difference.
These are some of the simple ways we can add come stress reducing activities in our daily lives. I can't convey this message enough, stress needs to be dealt with regularly if we really want to see changes in our health and weight loss! I hope we can all see the importance and start to implement some of these techniques in our daily lives so we can see and feel the difference.