Stress is a fact of life and the only way to escape it is through death. Using a variety of holistic stress management techniques is the key to minimize its negative impact on our life. Stress keeps our systems working as they should, but it becomes harmful when it lasts too long and is not managed effectively.
With proper stress management, you can control the elements in your life that cause anxiety and a myriad of other stress-related medical conditions. One way to do this is to alter the manner in which you react to parts of your life that you can’t change. Another way is to reduce or minimize the things that cause your anxiety.
Finding a method for managing stress that works for you might not be as simple as you expect because everyone reacts to stress differently. They also don’t respond in the same manner to different methods that manage the stress that is available. Consequently, everyone doesn’t see the same benefits. The solution is to try different stress management methods until you find one that works for you and your particular situation.
Where stress-related health conditions exist, however, it’s essential to seek the support and advice of your holistic health care provider in developing a suitable solution.
Keep a Stress Journal
The first holistic stress management technique to utilize is to find out what causes the stress. You can do this by keeping a stress journal where you’ll record everything that triggers stress, anger, or a physical reaction such as a stomach upset or a headache. Note the time, the incident that caused the stress, and any situation that caused a stress reaction. This will help you to identify exactly what things in your life are causing you stress so that you can work on developing ways of coping with them.
As you go through your stress journal, you might be surprised to discover what types of things cause you stress. The key is to decide whether those stress triggers need to be in your life or whether you can live without them or at least find a better way of dealing with them.
For instance, if you come home from work to a household of undone chores, you might want to ask your other family members to help out so that you share the responsibilities.
You might need to take a closer look at your job if you see that it is creating unnecessary stress. You’ll want to examine what things are causing your work-related stress, whether it’s your boss, an increase in responsibilities, or co-workers. See if there are changes that can be made to help you in managing stress. If not, you might need to consider seeking alternate employment.
Regardless of your situation, there are many effective techniques for managing stress.
Talk it Out
You can talk about it with someone you trust. This alone will help you to release the anger, stress and anxiety that can build up over time if they are not resolved. This will help prevent you from releasing your feelings in an ineffective and unacceptable way, such as snapping at your children or being argumentative and short with your spouse and becoming more aggressive generally.
Gratitude and Humor
Relaxation techniques are extremely powerful in managing stress. Learn a few simple meditation techniques and deep breathing techniques to reduce your heart rate and brain waves. In Meditating for Health, I teach you some very simple, quick and easy techniques to find relaxation in minutes. Take a yoga class or get a massage to bring temporary relief. If your stress persists, seek your holistic doctor’s advice for other ways for managing stress.
An immediate method for managing stress is to close your eyes, even if it’s the middle of the afternoon, and take several deep breaths. This will slow your brain waves and relax your entire body, providing quick relief to carry you through the day.
Getting regular exercise on a daily basis is another very effective method of relieving and managing stress. A good brisk walk and you’ll instantly begin to feel better. Not only that you’ll boost your immune system, neurotransmitters and metabolism, which will also aid in the reduction of stress as well as improve your emotional and physical health.
Take time to Rest
The most overlooked method of reducing the stress in your life is to take time to rest. Don’t over-commit yourself and run yourself into the ground. Make time for you. Watch a movie, lounge around on the couch or lawn chair, listen to music or take a long hot bath.
Spend time with Nature
Spending time with nature will also provide you with much-needed relief from stress. Nature’s stress-relieving capabilities are inherent without any other steps needed other than communing. Sit on your porch, lay on a blanket in your back yard, lake or beach, take a walk, hike in the forest, take a country ride, feed the birds, listen to the birds sing, watch the clouds roll by, listen to the raindrops, etc. If communing with nature isn’t always possible, just open your window to listen and feel the breeze.
Eat a Proper Diet
Your diet is critical for holistic stress management. Sugar, caffeine, junk food, grains, and high-carb foods, all increase stress levels. A low-carb Paleo diet is the best diet to maintain homeostasis in the mind and body and keep stress under control.
Avoid Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Exposure to environmental toxins sets off the stress response system. The more toxins you are exposed to the higher your stress load. At the top of this list the worse offenders are pesticides and herbicides, but chemicals of all kinds that occur in products like air fresheners, cleaning supplies, dish soap, perfume or cologne, personal care products, are all loaded with stress-inducing toxins. Keep these products out of your living space.
Herbs for Managing Stress
Although many practitioners encourage the use of herbs for managing stress, I am not in favor of this practice. Herbs like Passionflower and Valerian affect the brain in a similar manner to benzodiazepines and can result in tolerance and dependence, thus causing more stress and anxiety. They will deplete Gaba further a neurotransmitter that is vital for keeping stress under control. My experience with Valerian was that it worked great for a couple of weeks and then after a while, it was no longer effective. I developed tolerance and addiction quite quickly.
There are many healthy ways to deal with stress and reduce the undesirable effects it may have on our health. It does however take a willingness and commitment to make lifestyle changes. Put some of these holistic stress management techniques into practice in your life and you’ll find that you feel better all around.