Stress is unavoidable.
In some cases, stress is even a GOOD thing.
If you are hiking and run into a mountain lion, you WANT your stress levels to spike so a bunch of adrenalin rushes into your blood stream, your energy spikes, you think clearly, and you can run faster if that is what you decide to do. (I am not advocating running from a Mountain lion!)
But constant low grade stress is NOT a good thing. It leads to inflammation in the body which is a precursor to some very bad illnesses.
According to WebMD, “Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.”- Dec 10, 2017
One method to ease a stressful life is meditation.
We all know that meditating is good for us.
Countless health experts, famous actors, yoga instructors, and even some comedians tell us that if we want to reduce stress we should meditate.
There are plenty of apps and YouTube videos you can download to guide you through a meditation
or you can shell out a bunch of money and learn the Transcendental Method (which I secretly really want to learn. I just wish it weren’t so darned expensive!)
Well, all these “experts” are RIGHT.
Meditation WILL benefit your life.
There is no doubt about it.
BUT, what if you just can’t do it?
You sit and agonize. The time goes SOOOOO slowly.
You think about your grocery list, scheduling the next dentist appointment, how you’re going to fit in a workout that day.
Then after 5 minutes that felt like an hour, you end up feeling guilty and WORSE than when you started.
You think to yourself, “Meditation is so good for you. It helps so many people. Why can’t I do it? What’s wrong with me?”
Let’s not go there people!
Any stress management technique that makes you feel EVEN MORE stressed is a no go.
So what can you do instead?
- One simple technique to instantly calm you down is to practice deep breathing. I usually do this before I get my blood pressure taken or have to have an anxiety provoking shot at the Dr’s office.
How to do it:
- Breathe slowly in to the count of 5
- Hold your breath for the count of 5
- Breath out slowly to the count of 5
- Don’t breathe back in for the count of 5
- Get some Fresh Air –“ Phytoncides are airborne chemicals that plants and trees emit for protection from insects and rot. These chemicals, which linger in forest fresh air, also happen to be at the center of research in regards to stress reduction. A 2008 study published in the “Journal of Biological Regulators & Homeostatic Agents” recruited participants to spend time walking forest and city areas for this very reason. According to the research, participants showed more physical signs of relaxation – including lower blood pressure and lower amounts of the stress hormone cortisol – when they spent time in the forest rather than in the city. Sunlight is also thought to help ward off depression and stress because the “happy” chemical serotonin is higher in the brain during the time of year when days are longer.” ~Livestrong.com
- Exercise – exercise increases oxygen into the blood stream by making you breathe more deeply and Deep breathingincreases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
- Sleep More – if you have been staying up later to watch a favorite TV show thinking that will relax you, you may want to rethink that. Sleep is so essential to your health. Your body repairs cells and rests your brain while you sleep. Your subconscious mind is able to come forth (that is why you have such interesting dreams) and your stressed out, logical, need-to-be-in-control all the time brain gets a rest.
To get better sleep:
-avoid any blue light (from your cell phone, ipads, kindles etc.) for 30 minutes prior to sleep.
– Start a routine for yourself -just like when we were kids and we had a set bedtime routine. Go to sleep at the same time each night, stop all TV and blue screens 30 minutes prior to sleep, change into your pajamas at the same time each night.
– don’t eat anything or drink alcohol for 2 hours prior to sleep.
-Try adding some white noise to your room to drown out sounds that may keep you awake.
- Do Something Fun – any activity you find FUN will be a stress reliever. Maybe it’s talking to a friend on the phone. Maybe reading a good fiction book. I like to color using one of the new coloring books with beautiful drawings of the sea and ocean creatures. Something about the repetition and choosing what colors to use soothes me. Dance around to your favorite music. Even just thinking about what would be fun for you can ease your stress because you are switching your thought patterns to things that bring you pleasure and joy.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life but that does not mean we have to suffer from it. We can avoid many nagging illnesses if we learn to manage our anxiety levels and if meditation doesn’t do it for you- try some of these other techniques.
Soon you will be a ZEN master.
Here is a soothing recipe for you. Herbal tea before bed is a wonderful relaxer.
Recipe (Relaxing Teas): Relaxing Herbal Teas
There are many relaxing herbal teas that would be great for evening rest time.
Try any of these by steeping in boiling water:
- Green tea (has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated green tea)
- White tea (also has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated white tea)
- Rooibos tea
- Peppermint tea (or steep fresh peppermint leaves)
- Ginger tea (or steep slices of real ginger)
- Chamomile tea
- Sleepy Time tea
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can add a touch of honey if desired.
If you are still determined to learn to Meditate and it won’t stress you out more to try it:
BONUS Guided Meditation “Recipes” (videos, apps & podcasts)
How to Meditate video
How to Meditate in One Minute or Less Every Day video
Headspace App (free 10-day trial)
Daily Meditation Podcast