4 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

Ah, stress… a word we all hear way too much in today’s hectic world.  It’s always on the news, and we see and feel it all around us to varying degrees.  Sometimes it gets overwhelming and can feel like there’s nothing we can do to reduce the burden of stressed-out, negative feelings.  But just as the little things can add up to lots of stress, there are plenty of simple, easy things that you can use to lighten the load of daily ups and downs.

Keep in mind that small ‘change’ adds up… So here are three tried and true techniques for you to try:

SCENT:  The power of scent has the power to balance feelings of stress and being overloaded by life.  Essential oils are plant concentrates that are used for many purposes including fragrance and aromatherapy; they’re like little bottles filled with the power of flowers and plants.  There are different ways to utilize the mighty powers of these little gifts from nature.  Diffusers are electric devices that disperse essential oils into the air.  You can also use a ceramic simmering pot and a little tea light candle to disperse essential oils into your home.  Place boiling water in the simmer pot, and add drops of essential oil to the steaming water.  As the steam rises, the scent fills the room.  Try blending peppermint and tangerine for a soothing scent that’s great for deep breathing and meditation.  Or simply place rosemary oil and lime in a bowl and place near your bed for an overnight aromatic stress reliever.

The power of scent interacts with the mind, body and spirit.  For a soothing massage, mix a few drops of rosemary essential oil with almond oil.  The scent of rosemary automatically relaxes the body and mind.  To help de-stress throughout the day, drops of essential oil can be placed in the rinse water as you wash your clothes too—particularly nice for sheets and towels.  

FUEL:  Just like your vehicle needs a blend of ‘fuel’ to keep your motor purring, so do you!  It’s very important to have a healthy balance of protein and carbohydrates to balance your blood sugar at each and every meal.  Without this balance, our blood sugar levels can ‘crash,’ bringing with it feeling of agitation, nervousness, even headaches and an upset system.  Simple meals bring the best results.  Try oatmeal for breakfast—throw in some raisins, chopped apple, cool grapes—and enjoy a balanced feeling to begin your day.  For lunch, try quinoa salad with veggies for lunch—brown rice makes a nice protein-rich salad base too.  For dinner, enjoy healthy salmon or white fish and sweet potato at dinner.  

SOUND:  We are often inundated with sounds… Think about the stress-level impact of pagers, telephones, cell phones, emails, clocks, and so forth.  Incessantly, we’re disrupted by beeps, vibrations, tones, alarms, buzzers, rings, and whatever else technology dreams up to attach to our lives and to our psyches.  Remember, “Where’s the beef?”  Now it’s, where’s the beep?   We hear it and we jump to get it.  Who’s getting whom here?  We respond to these gizmos and contraptions like they’re techno-leashes, and often at the expense of our own jangled nerves and bank accounts!  Now, I know that many of our jobs and families depend on “being reached,” but how about being reached on your terms?  

Eliminate some of these annoying alarms; decide which ones are necessary and which ones are not.  Let your mobile phone to go voice mail; let the answering machine screen your calls, turn off the ringer so you don’t hear the calls as they come in, or at least turn it down.  Use privacy managers to eliminate sales calls, and caller-ID to screen the remainder; only return the calls that you choose—and on your terms.  Before you do answer a call, take a deep breath, slowly through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth. For every call, take a deep, complete breath to distance yourself from the demand.  (This is a good calming exercise to do at red lights too.)   

Try taking a 24-hour tech break—at least once a week: no email, iPhone, text, and social media break. Ignore the news for one day.  It will help clear your head and calm your mind.

BREATH:  The most effective tool we’ve got to help us deal with stress is our breath.  Usually the first thing that happens when we are exposed to stress is that our breath becomes increasingly shallow.  When you begin to sense stressful feelings coming on, bring your awareness to your breath, inhaling deeply through your nose, and exhaling slowly through your mouth.  When you inhale, envision filling yourself full with breath, even down to your toes, and fill your belly like a balloon.  When you exhale, pull the breath up and out, all the way down from your toes, then your belly, and finally from your lung area.  Get good at this; it can really help.  Being mindful of our breath can be like an antibiotic, protecting us from stress and negativity.

Four easy steps to go from a tightness of being to a lightness of being, because small change does add up!

By Cindy Gray

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