5 Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Stress management is a subject I'm incredibly personally invested in. Immersed in the performing community from a young age, I put incredible pressure on myself to live up to impossible standards and eventually crumbled under the weight of my own failed expectations. I’ve worked HARD to let go of the need for control in life, relationships, health, career and more, to break the cycle of perfectionism. I can relate to people who feel trapped in their own heads. No matter how many compliments you receive, no matter how many people tell you how talented, beautiful and smart you are — nothing ever feels like enough. The voice inside is just too loud, so you simply freeze. I get it. I can completely relate and I’m here to say:
Everything is going to be okay. There is a way out, but it starts with acknowledging the self talk and letting it go. It takes intentional practice allowing the thoughts to evaporate, rather than trying to force them out, to become accustomed to the silence and to understand that the white space is okay, no matter how uncomfortable it feels. To choose your thoughts. And then to treat yourself kindly throughout the whole process. As Tony Robbins Says, "Where focus goes, energy flows." Choose where you're going to focus.
Treat yourself kindly.
There are also some practical steps you can take to set your body and mind up for success and minimize the amount of stress your body feels. That way you can approach life from a balanced state of mind:
1) Fortify your immune system.
Drink tons of water and green tea. Eliminate processed foods and sugars. Eat more greens. It’s simple and intuitive.
Ya’ll. Sleep is the ultimate method for recovery, strong immune function and restoration. While you sleep your body repairs itself, heals damaged cells, boosts immune function and recharges the heart and cardiovascular system. If you don’t sleep, you are much more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors with decreased cognitive function, drowsiness, depressed immune function -- the works. I can’t stress the importance of a healthy sleeping schedule enough!
3) Restorative Exercise.
Are you running your body into the ground? We work long hours sitting at a desk pushing our bodies past the point of depletion only to go home, binge eat tortilla chips, guzzle that wine then wake up again after only 5 hours of sleep. Not good. The body likes to move long and slow most of the time. If you find yourself completely exhausted after long days, try to incorporate more restorative exercise like restorative yoga. Limit high intensity exercise to 2-3 times a week. See how you feel after a few weeks and adjust from there. Monitor how different movement types make you feel in the macro sense.
4) Build in more white space. In other words, chill out. Practice meditation and deep breathing.
As a general rule, I’d say most of us do way too much shallow breathing and not enough deep breathing. Shallow breathing is breathing that is (duh) more shallow and goes as deep as the chest. Breathing this way increases overall tension and stress in the body. Deep abdominal breathing eases the body naturally, encouraging a “trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide” (1). Another tip for deep breathing and meditation: it’s much better to practice every day for 5-10 minutes a day (establishing a habit) than it is to practice 1 hour once a week.
5) Posture your heart: Be kind.
Your state of mind can be altered with one simple habit: kindness and compassion. Kindness boosts dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which contributes to increased energy levels and feelings of well being and positivity. It also aids in sleep, mood, memory and digestion. Huffington Post released an article (2) describing how acts of kindness (or a kind state of mind) can produce healthier hearts and anti-aging benefits. That’s pretty magical. Oh, and one more thing: Kindness is contagious. It spreads like wildfire. So do the world a favor and just. be. kind. :D
Harvard Health (1)
Huffington Post (2)
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I'm posting healthy habits your can adopt (or not) almost everyday in January. My best tips and tricks to begin or continue cultivating a healthy lifestyle. Follow along here: