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3 Keys To Managing Stress

Unless we can just quit modern life to go live on a tropical island, mountain cabin, or Tuscan villa, we are going to face some stress in our daily lives. The key comes in how we handle those triggers and the work that we do behind the scenes. Call it self-care, stress management or whatever creative verbiage we choose the important thing is as Nike would say “Just Do It.”

Just do what? you might ask. At this point you might be thinking that adding anything else to your plate would at the very least add more stress. It is like telling a dieter they need to eat more food to keep their metabolism up, right? It’s simple, energy in energy out and sometimes we have to back away and say no.

The “Band-Aid Solution”

A loooong time ago there was a Band-Aid commercial with little children singing “I am stuck on Band Aid brand Cuz Band Aid’s stuck on Me.” Those same sticky strips that protect a wound can become so attached that they are slightly painful to remove. It can be the same with things, people, and decisions. The old saying of the quicker and more efficiently you remove the sticky mess the quicker the discomfort of agonizing over finally “just Doing It” is gone. By disposing of the thing, moving on in a relationship, setting healthy boundaries or making the decision instead of being paralyzed by it, we are freed from the stressors as they dissipate. When we waver back and forth or live in uncertainty is creates unnecessary turmoil in our belly and brain that spills to our whole person.

When I sat down to write this post I could have become stressed. I started by trying to find the best ways to convey the message that stress is depleting the life force right out of us. I even read a gruesome article about salmon swimming up river to lay their eggs and what the stress of that feat does to their bodies. (Warning, not for the soft hearted.) I soon realized these depressing scare tactics just add more stress, the very opposite of my intent. So, I totally changed my course and decided to offer some insightful ways to help cope with this daily tormentor, rather than heap more onto the pile.

3 Techniques To Overcoming Stress

Here are a few simple, yet effective tactics that helped me change my life by beating debilitating stress and anxiety.

  1. Our diets play a key role in either creating stress and inflammation in our minds and bodies or in creating a healthy environment for well-being. When we choose to eat healthful whole foods that do not cause inflammation, tax our digestion system or add free radicals and toxins we support our body and mind by making them stronger and more resilient.
  2. Some added helps to a healthy diet are B vitamins and adaptogen herbs such as Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Eleuthero, and Astragalus that support the body and mind adapt to daily challenges.

“Adaptogens work at a molecular level by regulating a stable balance in the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands. These are involved in the stress response. They work by “hacking” the stress response in the body. “

  • Meditation/Prayer on a daily basis changes the way we have trained our brains to respond to stimuli. 

“Psychologist Deann Ware, PhD., explains that when brain cells communicate frequently, the connection between them strengthens and “the messages that travel the same pathway in the brain over and over begin to transmit faster and faster.” With enough repetition, these behaviors become automatic. Reading, driving, and riding a bike are examples of complicated behaviors that we do automatically because neural pathways have formed.”

“Neural pathways, comprised of neurons connected by dendrites, are created in the brain based on our habits and behaviors. The number of dendrites increases with the frequency a behavior is performed. I picture these neural pathways as deep grooves or roads in our brain. Our brain cells communicate with each other via a process called “neuronal firing.”

Here is where the beauty of Meditation /Prayer comes into the picture to re-train our brain, so to speak.

“This requires silencing the myriad of other stimuli which is constantly barraging the organism and quieting the somatosensory cortex and amygdala (Miyake, 1999). This quieting is an intentional act that requires complex inhibition of several important areas of the brain and includes the amygdala fear center, the portion of the amygdala that responds to dopamine for memory creation remains intact. Quieting of the hypothalamic fight or flight response, while allowing the hippocampus to remain engaged for recall and new memory formation as the cingulate gyrus assigns feelings to the memory created (Duncan & Owen, 2000)”

You might be asking what the best way is to Meditate/Pray to accomplish this Quieting. It is what works for you! For some sitting cross legged quietly trying to think of nothing is not likely a good option for others it is perfect. Try stretching, taking a walk, listening to calming music – whatever helps you come to that quiet place.

  • Spending time in Nature is my favorite stress relief of all time!

“These studies have shown that time in nature — as long as people feel safe — is an antidote for stress: It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.”

I encourage you to go for a hike, take a walk in a park, or just simply get outdoors.

 I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. —John Burroughs

 Simply, learn to unplug …  

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/adaptogenic-herbs#effectiveness

https://healthtransformer.co/the-neuroscience-of-behavior-change-bcb567fa83c1

https://knowledge.e.southern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1063&context=jbffl#:~:text=Worship%20and%20the%20Amygdala&text=This%20hypoactivation%20also%20has%20measurable,Campos%20de%20Carvalho%2C%202016).

https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health

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