The other day I was flipping through my book Prescription For Natural Cures to find out what causes eczema and the chapter on Exercise and Stress Reduction caught my eye. Because my family and I suffer from stress and anxiety, I read further. The chapter had some really interesting ways on how we can reduce stress naturally, so I thought I would share it with all of you innerpeace seekers.
According to the authors, James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D., “…people fail to see the connection between their health problems and how they handle their stress. Unfortunately, many doctors fail to see the connection as well. Research continues to show that how one handles stress is paramount to one’s physical, mental and emotional health. Stress releases adrenal hormones, which are powerful chemicals and if are heightened and depressed for too long because of stress, a person is far more susceptible to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and other serious illnesses.” Scary stuff.
The authors offer up some stress-reduction techniques to lessen the effects of stress on our bodies. Everyone is different, so if you are interested in finding a way to reduce stress, choose one that suits your personality and lifestyle.
- Deep Breathing – According to the book, “Numerous studies have shown that deep breathing relaxes the mind, calms the nervous system, improves mental focus, and improves energy.” I’m a huge fan of this one. Whenever I find myself getting worked up over something, feeling overwhelmed, not able to concentrate, I connect back to my breathing techniques and try to focus on being present.
- Exercise – “Exercise is one of the simplest and most underrated ways to reduce stress on the body.” My dad is a huge proponent of running when he feels overwhelmed. He owns his own business and during these hard economic times he sometimes struggles with all the stress that’s associated with being your own boss. He hits the gym hard almost every day and just runs. He claims it’s the best medicine for his heart.
- Laughter – “Research shows that laughter prevents inflammatory triggers that leads to heart and artery damage, and it reduces the effects of stress.” Laughing with friends and family is a pastime in my household. It’s a joy to be around jolly people who enjoy life.
- Prayer – “It offers an opportunity to communicate with the Creator and cast your doubts and cares upon Him.” Whenever things get tough, I simply close my eyes and have a conversation with God. Afterwards, I usually feel like a heavy load has been lifted off my shoulders.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – ” Starting by curling your toes and holding them tightened for three seconds, then relax them. Work your way up the body, focusing on how each muscle group feels as you tighten and relax it.” This seems easy enough. Set aside a few minutes each day to try this. We carry a lot of stress in different parts of our bodies and this may help release some of that tension.
- Tai Chi and Qigong – “…involves specific body movements and breathing.” These two aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine have gained a lot of popularity in the west as a way of reducing stress. I pass by a Tai Chi studio here in Chicago daily and I am fascinated by the slow and steady movement it requires.
- Visualization – “The visualization of positive images invokes a relaxation response.” Close your eyes and visualize yourself and your loved ones in a positive light. This also reminds me of my swimming days before a big swim meet. We would visualize ourselves every step of the race to help prepare for our big events.
- Yoga – “Yoga involves deep breathing, stretching and mediation.” This is widely popular in our society these days, thanks to Madonna.
- Music Therapy – “The human brain has been programmed to be responsive to music. Examine any culture throughout the world, and you are sure to find music being used as a way to relax and combat the effect of stress.” This one is definitely used by my family. Neil, whom I admire greatly because of his sense of calm and clarity, practices this method; not necessarily as a way to reduce stress, but I’m convinced it helps keep him cool. I love that he is instilling his love for music to our children. They flock to him the second he breaks out his guitar, keyboard or just puts a record on.
Try one of these techniques if you find yourself getting worked up over something. Please let us know if any worked! Good luck!
And a special thanks to Krystle! of Fly Vintage for the awesome pics!