How to Lower Your Stress Levels

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In these highly challenging times, tackling our stress levels becomes a priority. Fear and projection can cause havoc with our mind, body and spirit. We start to imagine all manner of crisis emerging in our minds and very quickly reality is clouded with fear, adrenalin and stress and there is no perception of right now.

I have made a list of the 25 things that I find really do help me on a daily basis. I do not do them all at once, nor do I do them every day. The trick is to recognise that the stress is addictive, it is not serving you now and although it can be used to gain sympathy abd as an excuse not to relate and to isolate it is very damaging to our health in the long-term.

The list below is good for short and long term stress related experiences and issues. Print it and see what works for you.

1. The Minute breath: Sit comfortably, preferably with the eyes closed but it is not essential. Inhale 20 seconds, hold 20 seconds, exhale 20 seconds.
This focus on the breath and the length of the breath brings calm and peace as well as raising the oxygen levels in the body.

2. Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels in the body and puts us in a state of stress. Cheat by having decaff if it is the feeling of comfort that you like.

3. Sleep 8 hours a night minimum. A good long sleep allows the body time to repair and renew itself.

4. Take strenuous exercise 5 times a week. Running, swimming, power walking, cycling and yoga are good options. This will elevate your hormone levels and your fitness level bringing a feeling of empowerment.

5. Eat lightly at night and preferably not 3 hours before bed. Eating late at night is very heavy on the body during sleep.

6. Laugh as much as possible. Try this for inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF4qii8S3gw

7. Massage your feet regularly. This grounds you. Use a light oil if you can, but in an emergency through your socks is fine. Use quite a strong pressure to bring energy down into the body.

8. Have a cold shower first thing in the morning. It creates a hormonal rush that clears out the system and elevates you.

9. Avoid watching or reading the News. The elevated stress hormones brought in by the images and projections make for a bad night’s sleep.

10. Have a hot bath with a few drops of Lavender in the water last thing at night. This will relax all of the body and aid restful sleep.

11. Try the Inner Smile. Imagine every organ of your body, one after the other, smiling

12. Focus your mind on a mantra when the going gets tough. Wah Hey Guru is a good one, it means “ecstasy through consciousness”.

13. Bring your attention to the present moment. Everything is always fine right now. It is the future that creates the internal drama.

14. If you wake up in the night use a mantra or prayer to stop traumatic thinking. Hand your stress over to whatever you believe in as a Higher Power. The Lord’s Prayer is good, so is the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference

15. Drink a glass of water to release emotional stress.

16. Block your right nostril and breathe long and slowly through the left for 15 breaths.

17. Up your intake of fresh, green vegetables and fruits. Reduce your levels of pre-made foods such as take-aways and sandwiches. Reduce your intake of red meat.

18. Stretch all of your body, particularly the spine, before breakfast each day.

19. Stop watching violent films and stop reading violent or depressing books.

20. Ask yourself, whilst feeling stressed, if your stressful thought pattern is helpful. The answer is no. Tell yourself it is safe to stop it, let it do and think differently. Bring in a positive thought.

21. When you feel overwhelmed sooth yourself by stepping into the stress related thoughts and saying soothing words like “Everything is fine, we are going to get through this, I can handle this, right now all is fine, I am taking care of it all and we will be fine”.

22. Become aware of your thinking. Separate from the labyrinth of your mind and watch your thoughts as you would watch a movie. Once you can see your thoughts as they arise you can catch and deal with the negative thinking. At first it may seem a little strange but it gets easier with practice.

23. Feel your body, the skin, the pressure of your feet on the floor, the sensitivity of your nervous system, the blood moving through your body. When you are totally aware of your physical body you cannot think. It is very relaxing and can be used as a meditation.

24. If the stress is overwhelming, find a place on your own and inhale deeply then make a loud screaming sound from your belly as you exhale. Three times is good.

25. Sing. Sing along with your favourite song, a mantra, an opera. Anything to get the lungs opened, the heart rate up, your body warmed and your mood lifted. If singing does it for you then think about joining a choir, a jazz club, an amateur opera or theatre company…