10 Tips to Reduce Stress
There is no doubt that these are stressful times, and elevated stress levels can make us irritable and less productive, and contribute to illness. Research has validated practices that counteract the “fight, flight or freeze” sympathetic nervous system response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which leads to decreases in anxiety, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Here are 10 methods to help move from a stressed-out sympathetic place to a relaxed and peaceful parasympathetic place:
Exercise: This can be as simple as a brisk walk for 30 minutes, five days a week. Qigong exercise, tai chi and yoga are also excellent for producing a relaxation response. Always exercise within personal limitations and follow advice from your physician when beginning an exercise program.
Prayer/meditation: Try choosing a sacred/affirming word or mantra such as peace, love, joy or strength, and repeating it for 20 minutes twice daily.
Diaphragmatic breathing: Slow, deep breathing can be combined with meditative prayer by repeatedly breathing in a selected word and then breathing it out.
Guided imagery: Guided imagery involves listening to positive, guided meditations and can be wonderfully relaxing. There are many options online.
Creative expression through journaling, artwork, dancing and singing can be cathartic and can reveal new insights that were previously unconscious.
Socialization is challenging as we engage in social distancing. Telephone conversations, video chats, drive-by birthday parties and limited, masked-face-to-masked-face interaction can help us stay close.
Massage: Spas are open, although with restrictions such as pre-screening, enhanced sanitizing procedures and mask wearing. Almost anyone that has received a massage knows how amazingly relaxing it can be, and there are many health benefits.
Therapeutic touch frequently produces a relaxation response; it can be employed along with massage or offered separately.
Essential oils can be diffused or applied topically, including with massage; they should be properly diluted in a carrier oil and many, such as lavender, are known to assist with relaxation.
Nutrition: Eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet can greatly improve mood and overall health.
Suzy Edmonson, LOT, RMT, C-AK, SNC, CHC, is an occupational therapist, massage therapist and plant-based health coach practicing at Somar Massage and Natural Therapies in Grapevine. For more, information, call 817 996-9961, HealingSynergies.com.