Life can get hectic with work, commuting, family demands, as well as other obligations, and seemingly not enough time in a day to get everything done. Being reachable all the time through our smartphones and tablets doesn’t help matters. We’re bombarded with information overload with all this technology and trying to keep up with everything. Not making time for downtime can lead to overwhelm.
It’s important to take care of ourselves and manage our stress. I know you might feel you don’t have time to relax, eat properly, exercise or even sleep enough, but it’s important to fit it in. If you think you don’t have time to take care of yourself, you might find yourself sick and be forced to slow down. Isn’t it better to have the choice?
Some Symptoms of Stress
The following symptoms could be indications that you’re stressed out:
• insomnia or sleeping too much
• constipation or diarrhea
• appetite changes
• frequent colds
• racing thoughts
• racing heartbeat
• low energy
• muscle tension, neck or back pain
• grinding or clenching teeth
• social withdrawal
• panic attacks
• trouble concentrating
• increased alcohol consumption or cigarette use
These symptoms are by no means exhaustive and there could be other reasons for these symptoms.
Some stress is good, but when you are constantly stressed out, it can wreak havoc on your health. When you’re under stress, you’re in fight or flight mode, and no digestion is happening. So even if you’re eating good food when you’re stressed out, you’re not going to digest it properly and get the nutrients you need from it. Your immune system gets weakened and your blood sugar and cortisol levels increase. If you don’t burn this off, it gets stored as fat mostly around the abdominal area. Stress can also affect your thyroid which controls your metabolism.
Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and heart attack. It’s best to learn how to cope with it and get it under control.
Make Time for Meditation
One way to help ease stress is meditation. If you’re new to it and aren’t quite sure where to start, starting with guided meditation can be a good introduction.
There are some good guided meditations of various lengths at www.fragrantheart.com. Elisabeth Blaikie’s voice is calming and many of her meditations were very helpful when I was especially stressed. She even generously created a guided meditation for me at my request.
Always have your smartphone with you? The Calm app can help you learn how to meditate and has sessions between two and 30 minutes long. It provides different nature scenes and relaxing background sounds to choose from, music, and guided meditations.
We’re all busy, but taking even one minute twice per day to start and working up to longer periods of time to just sit or lie down, and breathe will help. If you don’t want to use guided meditations, you can concentrate on slowly inhaling through your nose with your hand on your stomach for a count of five. Hold the breath for six seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth for seven seconds. If that’s too much at first, start with fewer seconds and work up. The main thing is to become more aware of your breath and to make time for breathing exercises.
Other ways to reduce your stress are:
• tai chi
• progressive relaxation – tensing different muscles in your body from your face to your toes and then letting them relax
• taking a relaxing bath or a walk in nature
Don’t stress out when you do try to relax! Find something that works for you, and enjoy it.