7 SECRETS TO SUBDUING STRESS IN THE SEASON OF SELF-SABOTAGE
“Don’t forget: Drink water and get some sunlight. You’re basically a houseplant with more complicated emotions.”
Imagine you are a plant. You look strong and healthy, but you exist in harsh, demanding conditions. Your soil is dry, lacking nutrients, you haven’t been watered in a week or two, you need the right amount of sunlight, but instead are scorched or shaded. Your leaves are showing the effects of stress.
Are you feeling stressed? Probably. Like a houseplant, our body, mind, and heart are all affected by stress. Like drying, decaying leaves, we may be feeling the effects of our demanding conditions. Busy schedules, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, work and life tension, and, of course, a global pandemic, all put strain on our minds, hearts, and bodies. There is much we can do to combat this stress, strengthen ourselves and others in our families and communities.
PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF STRESS INCLUDE:
Low energy, headaches, stomach and GI issues, aches and pains, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, frequent sickness.
According to webmd.com, 3 long-term effects of stress include heart attack, stroke, and hypertension. This is due to consistently elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones. This also affects cholesterol levels and causes inflammation in the circulatory system.
7 TIPS ON COMBATING STRESS:
- REGULAR EXERCISE. It may seem contradictory, but a healthy elevated heart rate can actually lower a stressed elevated heart rate. Regular exercise lowers cortisol, releases pain-killing endorphins, and promotes more restful sleep and positivity. A nature walk can be especially calming and energizing.
- LOWER CAFFEINE/DRINK GREEN TEA. High caffeine intake increases anxiety and stress. And if you are a Luxury Latte Lover, this also means extra sugar and empty calories. The temporary benefits are also fueled with long lasting consequences. While coffee has some health benefits, like anything, needs to be kept in moderation. Contrarily, switching to green tea for a boost can actually lower stress and anxiety. It also improves brain function, increases fat loss, protects against cancer, and lowers the risk of heart disease.
- AROMATHERAPY. Scent has amazing power to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. A nice non-toxic choice is diffusing essential oils in your home or car. Some nice stress and anxiety relieving options are: Lavender, Patchouli, Lemon, Grapefruit, and Vanilla. Tree oils such as Spruce, Pine, and Cedarwood can also be very grounding.
- MAKE LISTS/GRATITUDE JOURNALING. Writing a daily list of goals and chores helps to discharge stressful thoughts. Gratitude Journaling replaces negative thoughts with positive ones. Taking a few moments to express yourself on paper helps you to center yourself, and not impose your stress on those around you. Set goals and be reasonable with yourself and others. Ask for help when necessary.
- LEARN TO SAY NO. So much of life can make us feel out of control. Learn how to healthily take control of what you can change and what causes you stress. This can include unhealthy coping habits we may have developed as a crutch in dealing with stress. Take control of yourself. Take note of what makes you feel overwhelmed. Clutter, procrastination, and overextension of ourselves can leave us drained, anxious, and angry. Take action to declutter, hold yourself accountable to deadlines, and decline invitations or situations that may be more than you can handle at the moment.
- EATING SEASONALLY. Our bodies were designed to work in harmony with the earth. Our bodies require different needs each season. During Winter, we need extra Vitamin C to boost immunity. Eating seasonal citrus fruits helps ease stress by giving the body what it needs. Root vegetables, grains, and meat are also key to keep us warm and sustain our calorie-burning-shivering bodies. Search the internet for seasonal eating guides and recipes.
- KINDNESS, SENSE OF HUMOUR, AND CONNECTION. “We rise by lifting others.” Kindness, Humour, and Connection cost nothing and is some of the most powerful medication in coping with stress and anxiety. By caring for our mind, heart, and body, we not only strengthen ourselves for the inhospitalities of the season, but we also put a better version of ourselves into the world. Even in our challenge-filled climate, can we find ways to promote positivity, longevity, and compassion.
We are all struggling with something. Learning healthy coping skills not only reduces stress, but makes us better able to help others in need, as well as find a healthier existence in a stressful world. Like a houseplant, we need to nurture ourselves to benefit others around us. Neglecting the shifting needs of the season can leave us feeling brittle and withering. Learning to embrace change actually enables us to cope with it. After all, the earth does it every day.