Stress is accepted as part of our modern lifestyle. We shrug it off thinking it won’t impact our health, using unhealthy coping strategies to keep pushing on. But to stay healthy, the body-mind needs quiet time, to recover after stressful events and reduce the impact of chronic stress—to rest deeply, to repair and re-establish equilibrium.
Research studies have shown that overworking and prolonged stress can increase the risk for heart attack, impair immune and thyroid function, exhaust the adrenal glands, increase the risk for getting type 2 diabetes, and cause chemical imbalances and mood disorders. A large survey a few years ago revealed that people ages 18-33 experienced an above-average stress level, mostly related to job instability and work-related issues. More than a third of those surveyed said they experienced agitation, anger, anxiety, and depression. No doubt all of us are feeling the stress of long-term isolation and uncertainty during this pandemic year.
- Get Regular Massage
At Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto, our expert therapists know how to calm and soothe the nervous system. Because all muscles are enervated, when we calm the nervous system, the by-product is a more supple muscle that can release tension better and faster.
- Meditate and Breathe Mindfully
The practice of mindfulness meditation (attention focused in the present) can reduce stress hormones, lessen reactivity, and increase resilience. In a work situation, the momentum of stress can be slowed down if you practice mindfulness of your breathing for a minute or so every hour. Use mindful deep breathing in any stressful situation to calm yourself.
- Practice 478 Breathwork Twice a Day
Dr. Andrew Weil’s 478 breathing is very effective for calming the nervous system and sleep issues when practiced regularly. Here are instructions. It’s easy to do at bedtime and before you arise.
A smile, one that uses both the eye and mouth muscles, helps to reduce the stress response. And it elevates mood!
- Remember the Good
Instead of stressing about your day when you first wake up in the morning, Rick Hanson, PhD, suggests taking a few minutes to embrace something positive at this very receptive time, which can set up your whole day for the better. You could relax into your body, feeling the truth that you are OK right now. Or you could open to gratitude or soften into love for someone you care about.
Holistically speaking, it pays to address the complexity of the human body in order to gain access to deep relaxation and spaciousness, to counter the damaging effects of prolonged stress and bring balance and healing to the mind-body.