By SHANNON SKAE, Health and life coach at Revive with Shan
It is a new year, but some of the stressors of the previous years remain, making it hard to hit the reset button. Many of us are starting the year feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Stress plagues us no matter where we go. This stress impacts our bodies because our sympathetic nervous system is activated when we are stressed or panicked.
This releases cortisol, which has several effects, including suppressing the immune system; inhibiting our ability to digest food; weight gain, causing anxiety and depression and sleep issues; it can also lead to serious illness such as heart disease.
Our minds do not understand the difference between the types of stress we encounter. This means that your nervous system cannot distinguish between being chased by a lion, being in a car accident, being shouted at by your boss, or being stressed due to unemployment and financial problems. Your nervous system responds to these by sending out a stress response.
But you can counter this by activating your parasympathetic nervous system. This is what relaxes and calms you. Here are some tips and tricks to reduce stress by activating your parasympathetic nervous system:
The 5-5-7 breath. Set a clock for two minutes. Breathe in for 5, hold for five and breathe out for 7. Repeat until the timer is up. This tricks the brain into believing we are relaxed and creates a parasympathetic nervous response.
Move your body. This means going for a walk with a friend, going for a run, doing Pilates or yoga. Anything that allows you to move your body even if it is not high-intensity exercise.
Food choices. Eat foods that nourish your body and decrease cortisol production. Fruits and vegetables are the best at doing this. Drink lots of water as well.
Essential oils. Essential oils, like lavender, can help with centring you. doTERRA is an amazing, certified brand for all types of calming essential oils.
Meditation or relaxation techniques. A simple one to start you off with is to find a piece of 7-minute relaxing music and play this to yourself while you sit in a comfortable posture. Listen to the music to help you relax. Keep the same music piece, so your mind associates it with relaxation.
Practice self-care. Find ways to do things you love, for example, hobbies, on your weekends/days off. Have a bubble bath (if water restrictions allow), do a face mask, enjoy your favourite meal.
I hope these tips help and that you have a good, relaxed and stress-free year ahead!
If you want help finding other ways to reduce stress in your life, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an initial appointment. I am happy to meet with you virtually or at my practice at Move Makhanda, 118 High Street, Makhanda – whichever best suits your comfort levels.