Let’s face it daily life is stressful enough but when it comes to this time of the year it just gets plain crazy. Planning festive meals, endless trips to the supermarket, shopping for presents, parties, finishing off work projects, the list is endless. Stress levels just soar as December creeps up on us.
I hear it all the time “I’m SO stressed out!” It should be a fun time of the year but if you’re not careful you can end up with no time to recharge and no energy to get everything done. It becomes a vicious cycle. All the pressures cause stress and anxiety that make you sick.
Stress overloads liver detox pathways
Did you know that chronic stress accounts for 80% of all illnesses? Stress interferes with how the body functions. You probably know that it can cause high blood pressure and increases the chances of stroke. It interferes with the normal function of your digestive and immune systems. Studies have proven that stressed individuals have an increased vulnerability to catching an illness and are more susceptible to allergic and autoimmune diseases.
Stress chemicals such as adrenaline can be highly toxic. They increase loss of valuable nutrients and restrict blood flow reducing your ability to detox. Like every other substance produced in your body they have to be broken down and detoxified. They put an additional burden on the natural detox activities of your liver.
People often fall into the trap of trying to prop them selves up with alcohol, cigarettes, sugary snacks, and abandon their exercise routines. It’s all too easy to ruin all your detox efforts if you are not careful.
Here are 5 tips to deal with stress this season
Listen to music
Listening to music does wonders to alleviate stress. Everyone has different tastes in music but according to experts music with a tempo of 60 beats a minute slows your blood pressure and breathing and stimulates the production of the relaxing alpha brain waves.
Baroque music is particularly relaxing but Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Purcell are great too. As the music plays, allow it to wash over you, rinsing off the stress from the day. Focus on your breathing, letting it deepen, slow and become regular. Concentrate on the silence between the notes in the music; this keeps you from analyzing the music and makes relaxation more complete. Try it for 20 minutes and see how much better you feel!
Laugh a little
You may have heard that laughter is a good medicine. It relieves tension, frustration, anger, or anxiety and loosens the muscles enabling you to “let go”. It causes blood to flow to the heart and brain. More importantly, laughter releases endorphins the chemicals that make you feel good.
Have you heard of Laughter Yoga? It is a very powerful, non strenous, exercise program with a difference. Scientifically proven it is fun and easy to do. There are no postures to learn and it can be done at any age in spite of problems like weak joints and muscles.
According to experts 10 minutes of hearty belly laughter will give you a cardiovascular workout that is equal to 30 minutes of jogging or rowing machine exercise. I’d go for that!
Calm yourself with Visualization
You can quickly clear mental stress, tension, and anxious thinking with visualization. It is useful when feeling stressed and when your mind is racing with fearful, anxious thinking.
It is best to do this exercise in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. When you get more practiced you will be able to get the same positive results in a busier environment such as your workplace. Don’t worry if you feel you are not very good at mental imagery. As long as your attention is on the exercise, you will gain benefit.
While sitting, close your eyes and place one hand on your upper chest and one on your stomach. Take a breath and let your stomach swell forward as you breathe in and fall back gently as you breathe out. Take the same depth of breath each time and try to get a steady rhythm going.
It is often helpful to develop a cycle where you count to three when you breathe in, pause, and then count to three when you breathe out (or 2, or 4—whatever is comfortable for you). If you are aware of other thoughts entering your mind, just let them go and bring your attention back to counting and breathing.
Now move your attention to your feet. Picture the soles of your feet and visualize roots growing slowly out through your soles and down into the earth. The roots are growing with quickening pace and are reaching deep into the soil of the earth. You are now rooted firmly to the earth and feel stable like a large oak or redwood tree.
Once you have created a strong impression of being grounded like a tree, visualize a cloud of bright light forming way above you. A bolt of lightning from the luminous cloud hits the crown of your head, and that ignites a band of bright white light descending slowly from your head all the way down your body, over your legs, and out past your toes.
As the band of light passes over you, feel it clearing your mental state. It is illuminating your mind and clearing any disturbing or stressful thoughts that you may have been thinking about. Repeat this image four or five times until you feel a sense of clearing and release from any anxious thinking.
One of the most effective methods for managing stress is through meditation. This is a simple method of simply focusing the mind on nothing instead of focusing on everything that is stressing you out.
Though there are many deep levels of meditation, the best place to start is with simply closing your eyes and taking deep breaths while concentrating on your breathing. By paying attention to your breathing and really focusing on it, your mind will clear itself out and permit you to relax easily. This is best done every single day as a preventive measure rather than as a cure for stress. However, it can also be effective when you need to ditch some stress.
Take a nice, long, slow deep breath in.Breathe in through your nose until your lungs are completely full.Then hold your breath for a second or two, before slowly exhaling through your mouth until your lungs are totally empty. Repeat this sequence a few times.
As your breathing becomes slower, you’ll find yourself becoming more relaxed. Like counting to ten, you’re likely to find that this simple exercise is often enough to get rid of your stress in just a few short minutes.
Eat, drink, sleep and be merry!
Lack of sleep and a poor diet increases the stress on your body. Eating regular, healthy meals helps to keep your blood sugar balanced and replaces nutrients lost through stress. When you want to wind down after a stressful day avoid that glass of wine, cup of coffee or bar of chocolate. Alcohol is a depressant and caffeine increases anxiety.
Eat a snack of protein and low GI, slow burning, carbohydrate. The combination helps your body produce serotonin the brain chemical that helps you sleep and makes you feel relaxed.
Stress saps the production of serotonin. Like everything else in your body serotonin is made from the food you eat. Low calorie foods and missed meals quickly reduce your serotonin supplies. Caffeine and aspartame are very anti-serotonin.
Serotonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan which comes from protein foods. You can get it from turkey, chicken, beef, lamb pork, fish, dairy products especially cottage cheese, and eggs. Healthy fats helps to increase the uptake of tryptophan in the brain. Nourishing carbohydrates like fruit, potatoes, yams, squash, whole grains and beans help carry the tryptophan into the brain.
Eating meals that contain a good balance of protein, health fat, a good variety of vegetables especially greens and good carbs will help keep you relaxed. Never skip breakfast.
If you are stressed out turn off the TV and radio, sit down at a table, eat slowly and focus on what you are eating. It will help to calm your mind. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with 6 glasses of pure water a day too.
Even if you don’t think you have enough time for relaxation taking 10 minutes to start practicing one of these stress busting tips will really help keep you sane and healthy this festive season.