Stress Reduction Strategies
Lets talk about the stress response in your body, which is designed to keep us safe from danger. A good example would be once upon a time, you are a primitive human gathering fruit when all of a sudden you see a tiger. Your body immediately senses this danger and begins a stress breathing pattern (using not just your belly to breathe, but your chest which requires the use of neck accessory breathing muscles), in addition to producing stress hormones which will help you escape being eaten.
Todays world is much different and most of our stressors do not require running away from a predator; which would be a great way to purge all those stress hormones and help put an end to the stress breathing patterns that are initiated. So what can you do?
1. Learn how to breathe. A great way to let your brain know that danger is over, is train yourself on how to deep belly breathe. Try putting one hand on your chest and one on your belly and practice only raising your belly as you take deep breathes.
2. If you can't shake that feeling of stress, exercise! This will help put those stress hormones to use and when your exercise is complete, it will signal your body that the threat is over and you are now in a safe space.
3. Meditate: Try to establish a mediation practice centered around a "safe space". This safe space can be anywhere you'd like, as long as you feel nice and calm. This meditation practice can help you transition into a more "rest and digest" nervous system mode.
4. Practice connection and kindness: make an effort to be kind/nice to everyone you encounter. Give someone you care about a hug, play with your pets, laugh with some friends. These moments can actually alter your mood and help shift your body into a calmer, happier state. Don't underestimate the power of connection, whether it be from a human or an animal!
5. Go be in nature. Spending time in nature has been shown to actually reduce the production of stress hormones, help people feel more connected and can even aid in healing your body. Try finding a nice green space to spend some time in when you're feeling stressed. Taking a break in nature can really help.