Let’s start with a fun exercise: Quick! List 3 things you could do to improve your health.
Ok. Did your list include things like: eat more vegetables, eat less food, exercise, stop being stressed out, sleep more, take my vitamins?
Those are on my list too. They’re probably on ALL of our lists. See, we all know what we should do, but the tricky part is actually making the changes to DO those things.
So. Back to the stress thing.
We all know that continual stress is bad for our health. There are so many articles all over the internet about that. So many of them emphasize all the bad stuff about stress (that we already know, thank you!) and then offer the sage advice to find work-life balance, and avoid stressful situations.
Those aren’t exactly the practical tips we had hoped for. Why is it that so much “how to reduce stress” advice requires major life changes? “Quit your City job and move into a country cottage, while meditating 2 hours a day and becoming vegan!”
Since this is VintageAmanda, I’m all about finding time-tested solutions to modern problems.
So here are my favorite ways to reduce stress, without changing your life.
Make a mental note of your stress symptoms
I know I’m stressed out because I grind my teeth at night. I also notice my breathing becomes shallow and my mind starts racing. When it gets really bad, I wake up at 3AM and can’t fall back asleep, while my mind plays out the worst case scenario of every possible situation.
Your stress symptoms might be different. But notice what they are. And then notice when they happen. Because sometimes you’re so stressed out, you don’t even know you’re stressed! So if you can notice some of those symptoms, then you can take action to deal with them…
Get mindful. See the big picture.
The first thing to do when you notice your stress symptoms is to get out of your head. I’ll call this mindfulness. Get out of your head and see yourself in the situation. Get a bit of objective perspective. Rather than being immersed in the situation, view it as an outsider. See the bigger picture. Breathe.
You probably want to practice this in advance. A great way to do this is through some guided meditations, or just paying attention to your breathing. Sometimes just taking a step back can lower your stress.
Mmmm, nice smells.
Keep a little vial of aromatherapy oil in your handbag. Lavender, clary sage, orange, geranium and patchouli are traditionally used to reduce stress. You can mix one or more with some almond oil to make a nice aromatherapy oil. After you see the big picture for a few minutes, smell the oil or rub a bit on your neck and temples. Is aromatherapy going to fix your stress? No, but it will help you slow down, relax, and put things in perspective.
Talk to your friends. Have a laugh. Run around.
You can reduce your stress levels by talking with your friends. But don’t just wallow in the stress and focus on it. Talk about your feelings and then focus on strategies to make it better. Bonus points if you can have a laugh about something. Exercise also does wonders for stress levels. If you’re in the middle of your workday, try getting outside for a few minutes and walking around the block. Fresh air, a change of scenery and moving your body really helps.
Extremely stressed? In shock? Try some Rescue Remedy.
This is a bit woo-woo, but it works. Flower essences are a mixture of brandy and water that capture the vibrational essences of flowers. There is a brilliant one called Rescue Remedy which works in times of stress, shock or life changes. Just 2-4 drops in water is all you need. It really works for me. Give it a try.
Nourish your nervous system.
You know that treating the symptoms of stress is just a bandaid. Ultimately you need to identify and eliminate the causes of stress in your life.
But since we’re talking about simple strategies, it will be worthwhile to build up your nervous system so you can cope with stress more easily.
My favorite way to nourish the immune system is through herbal teas. For these teas to be effective, you need to take them long-term – normally one cup per day for 2-3 months. You might try chamomile, lemon balm, skullcap or oatstraw. I like a blend of all four. Mix up a big batch of the tea blend, and then it’s easy to make a cup every evening.
(And here comes the diet part. If you can, eat more dark leafy greens. They are alkalizing and calcium rich, both of which support the nervous system.)
How do you reduce stress in your life? We all deal with it, and would love to hear your favorite tips for staying calm!