HOLISTIC METHODS FOR DECREASING STRESS & ANXIETY
In our fast paced world, our culture can be particularly toxic. Left unchecked, long-term perceived stress and anxiety can have damaging effects not just on our overall well being but also our physical health. The following offers a wide range of ideas to decrease stress and anxiety and lead a more relaxed & peaceful lifestyle.
Nutrition– It’s not news that our country is eating itself to death with fast-food. How many times do you find yourself eating fast food, in or out of home, because there just isn’t time? Do your children whine until you break down and take them for burgers and fries? Kick the habit. Our bodies cannot function optimally in life without appropriate fuel. That means switching to whole foods. It doesn’t mean standing over an oven or stove all day—on the go some yogurt, fruit, whole grain breads are just a few quick and healthy snacks. Standing over a stove sometimes, is good for the soul…with the added benefit of the family sitting together for a meal and delicious leftovers!
Balance Is Important!
Avoid stimulants – Yes, that includes caffeine. Not just in coffee, caffeine is in black and green tea, chocolate and most cola-type sodas. Other stimulants to avoid are decongestants and many migraine headache formulas contain caffeine.
Environment– Make sure your environment is not overly stimulating. Experts agree that TV in bed, clutter and the like over stimulate the nervous system. Your space should be your sanctuary.
Overscheduled– Most people these days, including our children, are overscheduled. How many activities, clubs, meetings, etc. do you or your and your child attend? How many lessons, sports or other after school activities? How many parties? Prioritize. You can’t be everywhere or do everything. You need to have time to relax at the end of each day and on weekends.
Over Work– Most people are overscheduled at work! Did you know that in most European countries it is not allowed to work more than a 35 hour week? How many weeks do you go over 35 hours on the job? In our society, it is expected that workers put on 40, 50 or more hours a week in the workplace. But at what cost? Less time with your family, less time for yourself leads to energy imbalance, and, in the end, are you living to work or working to live?
Over Spending—Not only a common cause of stress, but usually the reason people are overworked. There is a bumper sticker seen around town that says, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.” Two things. One, things usually do not make you happy. Two, if you buy less things, you owe less, and can work less. Consider it. How easy would it be to spend time with your kids rather than working several hundred extra hours a year to buy their TVs, computers, and video systems? And in the end, they are paying attention to them and not to you.
Practice relaxation – Guided imagery, meditation, walks in the park, whatever works.
Exercise – Studies show that moderate exercise helps to stabilize blood levels and that equals healing.
Sunlight – Studies have found that just 20 minutes of sunlight per day will substantially improve mood.
Regular sleep schedule/enough sleep– Getting enough sleep is critical to both physical and mental health. Just as important is your sleep regularity, or circadian rhythm. Try to get to sleep and wake at the same time, whether a work day or weekend.
Practice spirituality– Not surprisingly, research has found that people who practice some spirituality have less mental health ills, in general. The type of spirituality does not matter.
Avoid use of depressants to calm self – Depressants such as alcohol or over the counter sleep aids tend to worsen anxiety. You become dependent and/or tolerant and withdraw caused more agitation. Choose meditation instead.
Deal with life one step at a time – Avoidance often increases anxiety and worsens a situation. There’s no need to rush through life.
Seek appropriate help when needed– Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your social supports, or see a qualified professional if perceived stress and anxiety are a part of your life. Peace is all there is.