11 Tips to Combat Stress
Stress can be all-consuming, whether it stems from a demanding workload, relationships or other personal matters. Absolute Sanctuary’s wellness consultant, Dr William Engelhardt, shares 11 tips on how to combat stress through exercise, diet and a positive attitude.
1. For acute stress, Diaphragmatic Breathing is hands down the best tool. Used by performers, musicians, fighters and soldiers, this technique helps prevent a "fight/flight" (sympathetic nervous response) from kicking in and keeps one's mind focused and in control.
2. Meditation. There are many forms of meditation (including doing art or playing an instrument), but the one thing in common with all forms, is the idea of focus. By focusing on a single task we prevent the mind from becoming scattered and literally train the brain to become still.
3. Vigorous exercise. Burning off "Bad Mojo" (or energy) is incredibly important and has been show to alleviate depression better than anti-depressants.
4. Soft exercise and movements. Techniques like Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga, and even walking help create a balance between Yin and Yang. They also incorporate the benefits of meditation.
5. Dancing. Used for millennia to release stress and create community "oneness", dancing is unique in that it combines exercise, emotional release, and freedom of expression. It is truly one of the best forms of stress release and management.
6. Watching funny movies, videos, or comedians. Laughter is one of the best medicines.
7. Get touched. If you feel physically neglected, get a massage, hold a child, dog or cat, but make a point to get regular physical contact. Recent studies have shown that physical contact increases immune function and lowers stress and anger.
8. Avoid sugar and caffeine highs & lows. As the saying goes, the higher we go up, the harder we fall. Spiking blood sugar levels with High Glycemic Load and High Glycemic Index foods (refined carbs) not only make us tired, but nervous and anxious as well.
9. Spend time in nature. Just an hour in a park, beach, or wooded area greatly reduces stress and gets us in touch with nature's flow and what life is really about - living.
10. Make sure you get adequate protein in your diet. Neurotransmitters are made of amino acids derived from protein. If our protein intake is to low, we might suffer from depression and mental fatigue. Supplementation of tyrosine and tryptophan may be useful under conditions of high stress.
11. Certain herbs known as "Adaptogens" and "Nervines" can be useful under conditions of chronic stress. These include: Astragalus, Eleutherococcus, Ligusrum, Rhodiola, Withania, Passiflora, Scutellaria, Kava Kava, and Valeriana. A Herbalist or Naturopath can help prescribe useful formulations depending on your lifestyle and current conditions.