10 Unusual Stress Management Tips
There’s no denying it: stress is rampant in Western culture. Chronic stress is considered to be the #1 risk factor in most diseases and illnesses. So if none of the usual stress management techniques have worked for you, try these ones!
In our previous post, What is Stress?, we introduced stress as something we all feel and explained how it was a necessary part of life. We ended the post with a few stress-busting tips. (Part 2 defines stress more fully from a physiological point of view so we can understand how it works on the body and how it can impact our health.)
- Stand on your head. No kidding! According to this NaturalNews.com article, standing on your head (at least the downward dog yoga move or lying as upside down as possible off your bed or couch) “stimulates and provides refreshed blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. The health and strength of these glands are absolutely vital to our wellbeing, as they are the master glands and regulate the functioning of all the other glands in the body including the sexual hormones (better sex!), the thyroid, pineal, and the adrenals. The powerful stress releasing effects of the headstand (you can’t really be depressed if you’re standing on your head!) further rebalance the adrenal glands so physical and emotional health is improved.”
- Be a raw foodie… mostly and for awhile, at least. As we learned in Part 2, not only does stress strip the body of essential nutrients, it promotes the formation of free radicals that can become oxidized and damage body tissues, especially cell membranes. If your diet is composed of 50 to 75 per cent of raw foods, the fresh fruit and veggies supply valuable vitamins and minerals and are rich in compounds called flavonoids, many of which scavenge and neutralize dangerous free radicals.
- Follow a regular fasting program. This can be as simple as skipping a meal on regular days (and substituting it for watered-down juice) to going an entire day, like Sunday, drinking your meals. Be careful, though, when you’re fasting for the first time start off slow, like skipping one meal on one day of the week. And on your fast days, avoid strenuous activities as you won’t have the food energy to perform it. We also highly suggest that you consult your doctor if you want to fast and to seek out reliable information regarding safe fasting – it can be as dangerous as it can be beneficial!
- Learn how to really relax. Some people think they know how to relax but are sadly mistaken. Do you think vegging in front of the TV is relaxing? Sorry, it isn’t. Not really. You’re senses are being stimulated and therefore activating your nervous system. To truly relax, try the progressive relaxation technique. This involves tightening and relaxing the major muscle groups one at a time, being aware of each sensation. Start at your feet and work up to your head. Tense the muscles for a count of ten, concentrating on the tension, then let the muscles go lax and breathe deeply, enjoying the sensation of release.
- Eliminate dairy products for 3 weeks. We know, dairy? You may have a minor allergy or sensitivity that’s creating “nervous” symptoms. After 3 weeks, slowly reintroduce dairy products into your diet and notice if you’re experiencing stress again. Just make sure that during this time you get adequate calcium, magnesium and vitamin D from other foods or supplements, as they are found primarily in dairy products.
- Go to your happy place. Yes, meditation isn’t only for spiritual gurus or yogis. It can be as simple as setting aside 5 or 10 minutes to meditate on a pleasant place, person, animal or even an event. Or meditate on a word such as “peace,” “calm” or “relax.”
- “Out damned thought, out!” Be aware and control your internal conversations. The way we talk to ourselves has a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves and environment. Telling ourselves things like “I should be able to handle this better,” or “I shouldn’t have let that idiot cut me off in traffic,” or “I’ll never get the hang of this computer” only adds to the stressfulness of situations and does nothing to resolve them. Learn to listen for – and make yourself stop – these self-defeating, unpleasant thoughts and worries.
- Avoid junk food and processed foods. Unnatural or deep-fried foods – no matter what their advertising says – creates stress on your body. They actually require nutrients to process so like stress, they deplete your body of vitamins and minerals, adding even more stress on the body. Avoid artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, fried foods, junk foods, sugar, white flour products, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices, chips and similar snack foods, and basically anything made with ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
- Create a stress-free home. There are a number of things you can change in your home environment to help limit stress. Noise is a stimulant so turn down the radio, stereo and television. Throw rugs and wall hangings absorb noise and add to your decor. Certain colours are more calming and soothing than others, like muted greens versus vibrant oranges. And natural lighting is calming while unnatural fluorescent lighting is aggravating.
- Try aromatherapy. This is the art of using highly concentrated distilled plant essences, called essential oils, for healing purposes. Essential oils affect both the mind and the body through olfactory stimulation of the brain. The oils that are especially conducive to relaxation are: chamomile, sandalwood, lavender, bergamot and sweet marjoram. Add 10 to 20 drops of one or more of these oils to a warm bath and relax in the tub.
Are any of these unusual stress management techniques too weird for you to try? Do you have any methods you use to de-stress? Please share them with us!