Reducing Stress—Be An Advocate For Your Well Being
Yes, stress is a part of Life. We can’t escape it. BUT. We can alter how we respond to it. Reducing stress is soooo important. And I do know that is easier said than done, however, Becoming an Advocate for your Well Being, learning to reduce stress and practicing Self Care is paramount to a healthy lifestyle. So to put it plainly: YOUR HEALTH, YOUR WELL BEING DEPENDS UPON GETTING YOUR STRESS LEVELS DOWN.
According to the APA (American Psychological Association) stress takes quite a toll on the body: “stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.” That straight up says, ‘stress can ‘uck you up ALL OVER YOUR BODY! Every bit of you is affected by too much stress.
And not only does stress take a toll on the body, our response to it also affects how we treat people–when you’re stressed out that contributes to less patience, shorter attention spans, insomnia, bad moods, lack of Clarity, anxiety and panic attacks, depression and bad decisions. Paying attention to and doing something about reducing your stress is what Self-Care is all about ’cause when the well is dry, there is nothing of value to give to anyone.
Worried that if you start taking better care of yourself that you’d appear selfish to folks?
Self-Care Is NOT Selfishness
Self-Care is not, I repeat NOT selfishness! So if somebody’s feeding you that crap, stop eating! Push back from the table ’cause the food is toxic. They’re feeding you a guilt trip. When you are paying attention to your Self Care, to your WELL BEING in addition to all the other things going on in your Life, that’s making a major investment in YOU. It’s like investing in the stock market or in real estate except it’s you investing in The Wellness Life Market. When you make reducing your stress levels a priority, it’s a win-win for EVERYBODY.
You have got to take Conscious care of your MindBodySoul Connection. Be more of an Observer of Your Thoughts and Actions. Become more Aware and put into Action those things that take care of YOU. So much of the root of imbalance and dis-ease is in how our minds process things, how we think and how we approach things–do we move forward outta fear or from Trust, Love and Joy? Are we holding on to a job, a relationship, or situation out of fear and worry or because we want to be there?
Are there things that are contributing to your stress that you really would be better off letting go?
Are you Conscious, Aware and Present? Or are you operating by rote, on auto-pilot? That’s a question in and of itself to ask yourself as a check-in. Are you Conscious and Present or on auto-pilot? Are you neglecting your Well Being by doing or not doing the things you know will benefit you? Are you excusing the things that are in your best interest because of this, that or the other?
Even More Things To Consider To Reduce Stress…
Are you Aware of what happens to your body when you see something you disagree with or have a dissenting opinion from another on social media? Do you feel your body temperature rising, your heart rate and breath quickening? Though seemingly benign, our constant inner explosions to stimuli be it on a personal, business or social media front sends our emotions up and down constantly and continuously in a given day. One of many reasons sitting still and BREATHING DEEPLY is paramount to Success. It gathers you to yourself. It gives you time to gather your wits.
You can always tell what your predominant thoughts are in a given period by how you feel. Sad? Angry? Cranky? Invigorated? Enthusiastic? Uplifted? How do you generally feel about Life?
A 3-Step Plan of ACTION To Reduce Your Stress
GOALS: to reduce stress and knee-jerk reactions to stimuli. How do you do that? One plan of action is to OBSERVE, IMPLEMENT, DIFFUSE (OID).
This plan of action is not a sprint so try not to judge, just
1) OBSERVE your patterns. Just OBSERVE, don’t judge. Keep a log or summary—how you behave, what your mental workings are when you are stressed. What are your behaviors when stressed?
(and these are not things to ask your partner, children or friends about, this is about YOU recognizing your behavior of moving away from Well Being)
* Do you start worrying and imagining the worst that can happen? (In other words, using Your Imagination to Create the things You DON’T want)
* Do you over or under eat? Why?
* Do you smoke cigarettes? Why?
* Do you bite your nails? Why? When?
* Do you bite your lip or clench your jaw? Why? When?
* Do you engage in ‘uncontrolled’ leg tapping or shaking? Why? When?
* ‘Do you have uncontrolled thoughts, a racing mind? Why? When?
* Do you get headaches? Constantly? Backaches? Stomach aches? When? Why?
* Do you snap at people/loved ones? Have bad moods? Get or stay depressed for long periods of time? Why? What triggers you?
* Do you spend a lot of your day holding your breath? Why?
Truly OBSERVE your behavior when stressed. And remember, no judgment, this is the fact-finding part of Advocating for Your Well Being. Remember initially until you begin to recognize patterns without the need for reminders to keep a journal and document what you Discover/Uncover
Once you have Observed and pinpointed HOW you behave/react/are affected by unpleasant and stressful stimuli, the next phase is,
2) To IMPLEMENT measures to ultimately change the behaviors and reactive patterns you have to stressful stimuli. This entails
a) taking deep, long in-breaths followed by slower out-breaths (deep breathing is KEY in reducing stress levels and taking charge of Your Well Being)
b) inserting a mantra during the deep breathing that you either find or Create like, “I AM Calm” “I AM Guided and Protected” “I Acknowledge the fear and I release it because I will know what to do” “I GOT this” “I AM Capable” “I AM in Receivership of Answers” “I AM Centered” or whatever works for you. I tell myself “STOP.” Sometimes depending on my insistence of the replaying of the thought I say, “STOP. Just Stop.” You may have to play with a few mantras to find the right one or have a few to use in different situations
c) CHANGING YOUR MINDSET about the situation/person/place/thing or what you just read that gets you all worked up. If it is a situation you cannot leave or change at the moment, then changing Your Perspective about the situation will help to lower your stress and pushing back about whatever it is. At the same time, IMPLEMENT the changes you Intend (not wish, not hope but INTEND) to Create for Yourself in reducing stress and igniting Your Well Being. Again, keep a written or digital journal and Remember, our behaviors are habitual, practiced over time. It will take time to adjust them. Diligent Attention, Intention, Persistence and PATIENCE will reap results sooner.
As you move through action #2 To IMPLEMENT you will begin to
3) DIFFUSE the stress. Whenever you feel stress rising (that’s OBSERVING) because of your Practice, you can shift into IMPLEMENTING the breath, IMPLEMENTING to change the Mindset with your mantra if needed, thus lowering your blood pressure, slowing your heart rate, Calming the adrenal glands that fire adrenaline & arrive at a more Centered state. Creating an area in your home that represents calm so you can do these things is reeeeeally helpful!
In this plan to reduce stress and advocate for your Well Being, what other things can do for yourself that will raise a sense of Wellness? Limiting how much social media and news you inhale is one thing. Becoming much much MUCH more discerning in what you give your Attention to. Sometimes I am so worn out after scrolling down my newsfeed, my emotions thrown every which way. I find myself asking, why am I so irritable (OBSERVING) and many times can trace it directly back to what digital content I had consumed. Social media, while a part of how we roll can be lethal to our Well Being depending on what and how much you swallow.
Have YOU ever stopped to OBSERVE what happens to you when you’re on Facebook? For example, one day I noticed and realized that in response to a post I saw about something crappy happening to a friend’s child that my body had tensed–I was squeezing my muscles as I wrote a response. Before I pressed the send button, I stopped and asked myself if my comment would help or incite, would be a Solution or contribute to the chorus of outrage. In the time I was doing that I decided not to post my comment because ultimately it wasn’t going to serve any good and at the same time my muscles loosened and began to relax! I went WHOA! gotta watch that!! The ol’ Fight or Flight reactions our bodies do for our protection–heart rate, blood pressure go up, muscles tighten to spring into action and our breathing speeds up regardless of whether the stimuli is a threat or not–it’s our THOUGHTS about what we Perceive that makes the body go into overdrive. The more Aware we become of self, the better we will Be.
And for those of you who have an interest in gemstones and crystals, there are many with cooling soothing properties, that you can use for your Well Being. Holding a stone and taking deep breaths is a wonderful way to Calm, Soothe, Ground, Center and Balance—they make exceptional meditation aides. One to check out is beautiful Aquamarine. A Stone of Courage, it has soothing and calming energies and could be wonderful for chillin’ out the nerves using Awareness and Presence, in other words, use it with Intention. Said to harmonize its surroundings, give support to the overwhelmed and encourage one to take responsibility for oneself (credit: The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall for that one).
And what Robert Simmons of The Book of Stones says about the gorgeous Aquamarine is so good I gotta quote him: “these luminous blue gemstones are one of the wonders of the Mineral Kingdom. They are good for all types of calming and cooling, from hot flashes…” (Rose Quartz is da bomb diggedy too) “…to anger, yet they also activate the throat chakra assisting one in the clear communication of one’s highest truth. They are stones of the Water Element, bringing one in touch with the subconscious, the domains of spirit and our deepest emotions.”
Now whether you can actually physically feel the cooling Energy is not the point so don’t get tripped on that if you don’t feel anything when holding it, the IMPORTANT thing is the Thought behind the reason to use it, because the Thought of it as being a Positive in its usage and the Intention behind it promotes the Healing. The Soothing, Cooling and Calming.
Take deep breaths when the stress starts to rise. Remember that stress depletes you of Your Well Being. Learn to Meditate and/or go deeper in Your Practice.
Stress Reduction Tools
Check out guided meditation videos to help you reduce stress and anxiety. They are also offered in audio form with a choice of 5-6 minutes and a longer deeper session for about 30 minutes. You can also order custom guided meditation audio tailormade to fit your needs. And keep in mind my StressBusters Guided Meditation sessions to book in-person or virtual
For more ideas, tips and How-To’s on getting your Zen Zone Mojo happnin’ and to reduce stress, anxiety, anger, depression as well as increasing Mindfulness and Awareness, there are an array of stress and anxiety relieving products and services as well as events to check out on my site.
Thank you for being here, won’t you share this blog with a friend, family member and/or colleague?
Your Wellness Guide
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