Simple and natural ways to beat stress when it starts growing on you
With schedules getting busier with each generation, the corresponding stress keeps on piling up. Students suffer from examination stress. School children deal with stress related to peer pressure and homework. Adults deal with stress related to kids, loans, work and a plethora of other things. A little stress might be a good motivator, but when it gets out of hand, stress is detrimental for performance. It hinders natural thinking and causes physiological changes in the body. Weight gain and loss, loss of appetite, irritability, lack of sleep and headaches are common symptoms of stress. It is ironical that most of the stress which we feel is created by us. But there are several ways to fight it too. Once you have recognized the underlying cause of the stress, it isn’t hard to fight it, or at least mitigate its effects.
We show you how, this week.
1. Drink more orange juice
Researchers at the University of Alabama found that regular consumption of vitamin C stops the secretion of stress hormones, leading to a better life. Orange juice is cheap, easily available and healthy. It can even be made at home. Two 8-ounce glasses of orange juice daily give you the vitamin C needed by the body for proper functioning.
We have already mentioned the importance of laughter. Laughing produces stress relieving hormones which reduce stress immediately. Laughing is cheap and one can laugh anytime, anywhere. It diverts the mind from other factors as well, which might be responsible for stress indirectly.
Often undervalued, cocooning is one of the best ways to fight stress and get motivated again. In the moment you feel totally overwhelmed, gently place both palms side by side on your face, fingers gently resting on your closed eyelids. This cocoons and quietens the mind, until you feel more centered and ready to face the world again. We often do this when frustrated, but now we know what it’s called. Cocooning is also a great way to rejuvenate yourself when low on energy.
Anxiety leads to shallower breathing, which is restricted only to the upper area of the chest. This leads to headaches and a general sense of uneasiness. We tend to get irritable and make hasty or unwise decisions. One must lengthen one’s breath consciously, breathing deeper into the belly. Count to three on the in-breath, and four on the out-breath. This refreshes the amount of oxygen in the body and takes away greater amounts of stress-inducing carbon dioxide. The body ends up rejuvenated and the mind is able to think more clearly.
5. Circuit breaker
The best way to deal with stress is to take your mind off it. All the techniques described so far ultimately distract the mind. The problem might not go away, but diverting the mind can certainly give it the power to think clearly when re-engaging with the same problem. Try to take the dog for a mini walk. Revisit your funniest emails. Listen to your favorite song. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea. Indulge in some stress-releasing food such as ice-cream. The key is to trick the mind into feeling that the problem can be resolved.
6. Let the tears flow
We mentioned how laughter helps to reduce stress, but crying it out is equally important. Crying can be very therapeutic. It is one of the most cleansing experiences the body can go through. Deep sobs open the chest and diaphragm, releasing bound-up energy. This helps to free up the heart of muscular tension. A good cry also enhances oxygen delivery to the cells and stimulates release of specific neurochemicals in the brain that promote relaxation. Crying often makes us introspect and retrospect into the problem and come up with solutions to tackle it. The mind is also motivated to deal with the problem.
We have already mentioned how important it is to exercise the body to exercise the mind. Exercise does not mean a workout in the gym. Exercise simply refers to physical activity. Walking with a friend and discussing the problem might help. Going for jogs reduces stress and takes away anger. Playing your favorite sport takes away stress too. it is important to channelize the energy and distress the mind.
When the body realizes that there is a problem, it releases adrenaline so that the body and mind can tackle the problem. The mind, however, might decide to use this negatively, and that is when we feel the effects of stress. It is important to channelize this excess energy so that the mind can be tricked into thinking that the problem isn’t big enough. That is how the mind works. Stress cannot vanish, but we can reduce its effects on the mind. As Lord Buddha once remarked, “To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”