While there are undeniable benefits in our modern society, there are also some major downsides – One of those being stress. The physical and psychological stress placed on our bodies during long commutes, hours spent at desks each day, and near-constant time in front of computers & phones is staggering.
And all of these stresses have very serious consequences. Primarily on our health and sense of well-being. Insomnia, binge eating, heart disease, clinical depression, anxiety disorders, compromised immune system, moodiness, drug & alcohol abuse… The list goes on and on. And on.
Unless you have plans to run off and live a stress-free life in an idyllic country cabin – In which case, please take me with you – Your best recourse is learning to cope with and manage your stress levels.
So what are the best ways to achieve stress reduction? That depends. Everyone reacts to stress differently and everyone has different stressers in their life these days.
Approaching stress reduction from both a physical and psychological standpoint is ideal – You need to counteract all the various stresses in your life in various ways.
Physical Stress Reduction:
- Walking – The benefits of walking are almost incalculable. Getting outside, leaving behind your car, giving your cardiovascular system a workout… By adding walking to your daily routine you’ll instantly give yourself a mood and metabolism boost.
- Working Out – Whether you’re a runner, a gym rat, or a hiker – You just need to make sure that you’re giving your body an outlet to get out the daily aggregations.
- Yoga – It took me years to appreciate the benefits of yoga, but now I can’t live without it. The practice is a great way to let go of your day and really relax.
- Massage – There are a number of benefits of massage, not only can it speed recovery and help your fitness goals, it also releases toxins from you muscles and promotes healthy digestion.
- Diet – Something that people don’t realize is just how important your diet is when it comes to overall health. Processed & unhealthy foods put extreme stress on your body – By improving your diet and focusing on whole foods and fresh produce you’ll be doing your body a great service.
Psychological Stress Reduction:
- Get Outside – Getting back to nature does wonders for the psyche. Even if you’re city-bound like I am, you can at least find a park or a killer view to get your fix.
- Get Out Of Your Head – This is something that is very different for everyone. For some people pounding the pavement for a sweaty run is the perfect way to clear their mind. For others its painting or going for a hike. However you achieve that state of Zen, make sure that you find time for it in your daily life!
- Journal – Writing down your thoughts and reactions to your day-to-day life can be very therapeutic. I like to also keep a gratitude journal where I write positive daily affirmations to start each morning with a positive attitude.
- Meditate – The benefits of meditation and quiet personal time are long-standing and well documented. As a Type A, go-go-go kind of girl I’m still working on this one, but even spending just a few minutes a day in quiet reflection & relaxation can be beneficial.
- Mindful Breathing/Thinking – This has been a helpful stepping stone for me on the path to meditation. Sitting still and not thinking about my To Do List are challenges for me so spending a few minutes feeling my body is a good way to start.
After my recent weekend at my family’s Fallen Leaf Lake cabin I was reminded just how important getting outside and getting away from technology are to my well-being. I’m heading to Northern California this weekend for a much-needed holistic retreat – Yoga, meditation, hiking, massage, and clean eating.
Four days of paradise, here I come!
What’s YOUR favorite way to reduce stress in your life?