“Dear stress, let’s break up”
Let’s no waste any time. Feeling stressed sucks.
But we know stress is a normal part of everyday life.
So it’s less about eliminating stress and more about limiting it.
With better strategies for stress, I’ve been able to take on way more while feeling less stressed overall.
Here are 4 strategies I’ve been using that might help you avoid that overwhelming, uncomfortable feeling of stress.
1. PUSH – PULL
This strategy allows you to push hard when you need to, during those weeks of exams, the lead up to a final project or a presentation or any time when you’re needing to fire on all cylinders.
The idea comes from Robin Sharma and essentially means you map out the time when you need to push hard – whether thats a few days or a few weeks, or even a few months, and prep yourself for it by pulling back ahead of time, committing to high levels of wellness during and have a plan in place immediately afterwards to pull back again.
The pull back can be anything from taking a few days to relax locally to a camping trip all the way up to a retreat in Panama.
It’s also important to schedule in mini pull backs during the push phase – especially if it’s longer than a couple of weeks. This can be a weekend without technology, a spa day, going to a community hot tub or sauna, some yoga, meeting up with a friend or anything that let’s your mind escape the chatter and chaos.
I have to say, I was reluctant to add this one. This is the one my mum would always tell me to do when I was stressed, which I hated because every time I actually listened (not too often), it worked!!
Taking even a couple of moments to stop, take a few deep breathes and focus on the immediate present moment (rather than worrying about the future or feeling bad about the past), can literally change how you feel in seconds.
“In fact, much of the aim of pranayama breathing appears to shift the autonomic nervous system away from its sympathetic (excitatory) dominance. Pranayama breathing has been shown to positively affect immune function, hypertension, asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress-related disorders (Jerath et al., 2006).”
*Brent Note: Pranayma breathing is essentially taking a slow, deep breath, holding it in for a few seconds and slowly releasing it, then repeating. When our nervous system is in the sympathetic mode – that’s when we’re stressed. This is commonly called ‘Fight or Flight’ – as we assume we used this elevated state to fight off tigers or run from them. We can use breathing to shift into a parasympathetic state where we feel calm and collected.
You can try this right now by following along the simple breathing pattern below…
Man, I can’t over-emphasize the importance of movement as a stress reliever. I’ve spoken to an Oxford-educated friend about this who told me he’ll often take a 2 minute walk before a speech to calm the nerves. From a 2 minute walk to a full day hike and everything in between, moving our bodies does wonders for our stress.
The impacts are felt both in the short term and long term. Movement increases blood flow, bringing more nutrients to our cells, it stimulates our lymph system which is like the gutters that run throughout our bodies to clear toxins and waste – a system that has no pump like the heart and heavily relies on movement to flow.
Learn more about how to support your lymph system with this Livestrong article.
All movement is good and it’s cumulative so any bit you do today helps you in the short and long term.
Food also plays a massive role on our stress levels, and most don’t make the connection.
Sugar, processed foods and alcohol all serve to increase how stressed we feel, yet those are often what we turn to when we’re stressed. In the first couple of moments we consume them, we might feel better, but it’s more from a distraction than addressing the cause and soon enough we feel bad again.
Instead, eat these foods…
BANANAS – They calm us and provide tryptophan which calms us down. Plus they’re easy to have around and can be found everywhere.
CHAMOMILE TEA – There are a number of teas that can help us calm down, but chamomile is my favourite for the flavour and effect. I often drink it before bed, especially when I’m wound up from the day. Another good tea ingredient to look for is Valerian.
ASHWAGANDHA – This is probably the most effective ‘calming food’ I use. It comes in powder form and can be found at most Whole Foods and health food stores. I generally mix it with some coconut water, lemonade and water and a couple of other powders like spirulina before bed for a good sleep. It’s a natural plant and it said to calm the mind chatter we often have when trying to fall asleep. It does this for me.
MACA – Maca powder can be found at Whole Foods and most health food stores. It’s a natural adaptogen that means it helps naturally balance our hormones. Add the powder to some juice or your smoothie.
GOJI BERRIES – Also found a Whole Foods and health food stores and also an adaptogen, offering similar benefits to Maca. Also a complete protein.
*Maca and Goji Berries also both naturally boost energy and offer a massive range of additional nutrients our bodies and brains need.
Those are just four strategies of many to reduce stress immediately. Of cuorse there are plenty of others like talking to someone, hanging out with friends, reading and even watching TV if that works for you.
If you feel like you need more support for your stress than what I’ve listed above, talk to your doctor who may be able to prescribe medications to help and consider talking to a counsellor or psychologist.
If you live in British Columbia, here’s a link to search for a counsellor and here’s one to search for a psychologist.
If you want high quality mental health and wellness training, sign up below and I’ll send you the Mavrixx High Performance Brain Guide, My Favourite Superfoods Guide and more…
Hope that helps!!
Leave a comment below with the strategies you use to reduce stress and please share this post on your social media so your friends can benefit from these ideas!!