Stress is one of my most talked about topics on this blog – and with great reason! The amount of stress that we experience has the potential to determine how much we enjoy our lives, and how happy and healthy we can be!
So many of us struggle with unhealthy levels of stress, believing that there is no alternative and that we must tolerate it and power through. However, that simply isn't the case, and we can all make positive changes to create a calmer, more balanced existence for ourselves.
This is something I am going to explore today, so read on to discover how to say goodbye to stress!
The Stress Hormones
Let's talk for a minute about the science behind stress!
When you are experiencing a stressful situation in the present moment, then your body naturally responds by releasing certain hormones. The following three hormones are the main stress hormones and each contribute in a different way.
As soon as the brain is alerted to a stressful situation, a signal is sent to the adrenal glands and adrenaline is produced.
Adrenaline fuels the immediate responses to stress, such as tensed muscles, increased heart rate, and also the surge of energy that you may feel. These responses are your body preparing you to deal with a danger or threat, such as if you needed to run away!
Similarly to adrenaline, this hormone is produced by the adrenal glands as an immediate response to stress.
Norepinephrine further arouses the body, ensuring that your physical response to the stressful situation is timely. This hormone also stimulates the flow of the circulatory system, moving blood to where it is needed most. For example, to the muscles if a physical response is deemed appropriate by the brain.
Cortisol is also produced in the adrenal glands, but unlike the aforementioned hormones, it is not immediate as stress arises, and actually takes a few minutes to be released.
Before cortisol will be released, a particular part of the brain first has to recognise that there is a threat. A message will then be sent to another part of the brain, which will prompt the release of a minor hormone. The presence of this minor hormone signals to the pituitary gland to release an additional minor hormone, and it is this secondary action that alerts the adrenal glands to the situation, finally prompting a release of cortisol!
When you are actually in danger, the presence of cortisol in your body can be life saving, forcing your body and mind into action. However, when your body is regularly releasing cortisol just because you are stressed out, then this can soon wreak havoc on your health and happiness.
The Symptoms of Stress
Chronic stress is defined as stress that is experienced nearly consistently, causing a person to feel as though they are always on edge. This can of course put a strain on the mind as well as the body!
Not being able to sleep well is one of the biggest symptoms of chronic stress. When something is weighing heavy on your mind then it can of course be difficult to fall into a deep sleep.
Over time, chronic stress can weaken the immune system, contribute to elevated blood pressure, and fuel the onset of certain health conditions. It can also cause fatigue, headaches, an irritable mood, changes in appetite, and low self-esteem!
Sources of Stress
Identifying where your stress comes from, and what gives it so much power over you, is the first step in taking this power away!
So, we first need to understand where it is coming from and why. What are the difficult situations that you continue to engage with, and why have you not been able to distance yourself from them already?
Making a physical list of the things that cause you stress is the best place to start. Try to be as honest with yourself as possible whilst you are doing this. It is important to remember that all of your feelings are valid at all times. If you feel guilty about being stressed out by something or someone, then it is essential that you assess the situation so that you can determine the source of these feelings.
Each of the items on your list can then be tackled one by one. Don't try to change too much too soon or you run the risk of causing yourself further stress!
Small positive changes will add up to a much bigger change over time, and you will slowly be working towards building a more peaceful and enjoyable life for yourself.
Once you have taken the first steps to saying goodbye to stress, then you can also begin creating calm and embracing peace, both into your mind and in your life.
Listening to calming music during your day is a fantastic way to keep yourself relaxed. Far from just being an enjoyable thing to do, listening to music has the power to soothe the stress hormones and to slow your heart rate, helping you to feel much calmer.
Stress will often manifest as physical tension in the body, and regularly taking a moment to stretch during the day can go a long way to alleviating this tension. You are most likely to feel this stress in your neck, shoulders, and lower back. So making an extra effort to stretch out these places can help to shake this stress away.
Exercise is an amazing way to let off some steam and expel stress from the body. If you don't feel able to go to the gym or do more conventional types of exercise, then you may find that simply going for a walk is the best thing for you.
Even just 10 – 15 minutes of deliberate walking every day can help to refresh your mind and distance yourself from negativity. You can choose to listen to music as you walk, or to use this time to repeat some stress-busting positive affirmations to yourself.
Breathing for Balance
Breathing is something that we absolutely all have to do! And we all have the ability to harness the power of our own breath to combat stress and create balance in the body.
Simple breathing techniques can be incredibly effective, both for encouraging stress to leave the body, and better preparing the mind to deal with it as and when it does arise.
Yoga for Stress Release
Of course no piece of advice on tackling stress would be complete without mentioning the power of yoga!
When you practice yoga regularly then you are taking the time to engage in physical exercise, whilst also consciously relaxing the mind. Yoga involves a lot of deep stretching of the body, and the combination of all of these things will go a long way to combatting stress.
Defeat Stress for Good
Taking positive steps to defeat your stress and anxiety is a great way to help you to stay on top of your own self-care!
In order to help you build upon this concept I would like to share with you my top ten tried and tested tips for keeping stress and anxiety away! Click to sign up to my Get Inspired Newsletter and receive my tips immediately to your inbox!