Stress is inescapable and unlike the title suggests, you may or may not be able to manage the stress itself, however you can manage your reactions to it. Stress is not just mental, it can be physical such as being in pain, too hot, too cold, not enough sleep, or caused by infection, toxins, emotions, nutritional deficiencies or hormone imbalances among other things. Therefore, your stress management has to address the underlying cause of the stress as well as your reaction to it. These are my top stress management tools that can be used in most situations. However, be sure to work on the underlying cause as well.
Mindfulness as a Stress Management Tool
Mindfulness is our innate ability to be fully present, attentive, and aware. Cultivating and practicing a mindful state of being has been proven to enhance quality of life mentally, emotionally, and physically. It is an ideal stress management tool especially if you spend a lot of time thinking about the past or what may or may not happen in the future. Try bringing awareness to the daily activities you usually do on autopilot. Your senses: touch, smell, taste, sound and sight — are your gateway into the present moment. When you eat, take the time to really look at your food, smell it, chew it thoroughly, notice the taste and texture. If you are outside walking, smell the air, look at the sky, feel the temperature on your skin, listen to the sounds in a state of complete awareness. Release any outside thoughts and find yourself relaxing in the moment.
Meditation as a Stress Management Tool
Meditation can take many different forms and is an excellent stress management tool. You can do a walking meditation, a meditation listening to the sound of a brook or waterfall, staring at a candle or fire or focusing on your breath, a mantra or just noticing your thoughts and letting them go. Your breath can modulate your nervous system. Slow deep breaths done mindfully and rhythmically can activate the part of your nervous system that induces relaxation, rest, and digestion. The trick is to be consistent with practicing some form of meditation. You can’t stop your thoughts. You can observe them and let them go. Be kind and patient with yourself. Choose a place and time your will practice without judgement. Just being still and focusing on your breathing can be enough. You will reap many benefits with regular practice. Start with 5-10 minutes or whatever time you can spare.
Slow, Deliberate Exercise as a Stress Management Tool
Many of us race through our days and the way we exercise may be no different. I love a good, hard work out to relieve tension. However slow deliberate exercise such as yoga, tai chi, Pilates, slow burn weight lifting, and walking can have many benefits. The act of doing this mindfully can enhance mood, relieve tension, lower your heart rate, lower your stress and reduce anxiety. Doing it mindfully is a great stress management tool. The slowness of the activity requires you to pay more attention to form and to your breath and position of your muscles and joints. It can be a good way to recover from or prevent injuries. You can work your mind and body at the same time.
These activities can be beneficial for both mind and body. They increase cognitive abilities, lower heart rate and blood pressure, enhance the immune system and reduces anxiety and tension. Find a group to learn or practice mindfulness, meditation or slow deliberate exercise with. There is amazing power with the energy of a group. There are studies that prove the existence of a ripple effect of peace in the surrounding environment when a group meditates together. This is beneficial when you find it hard to practice these things on your own. You also benefit by having a schedule that helps you develop a habit, get feedback, and be inspired, connected to and motivated by others. Be sure to see a functional medicine doctor to treat the underlying cause of your stress and use any or all of the tools available. Practice make perfect so schedule in some time to practice any or all of these stress management tools.
Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of their stress and illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are. If you’re ready to start your journey to a healthier, happier life, schedule your visit today!