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Complete Guide: How To Relieve Stress Naturally And Fast

Complete Guide: How To Relieve Stress Naturally And Fast

Suffering from stress can be an almighty strain on ourselves both mentally and physically. It depletes a person’s quality of life and affects those around them. In a world where we are told to have it all, no one necessarily tells us how to cope with it. Stress can come from many sources whether it’s feeling too much pressure, experiencing a sudden loss or gain and not knowing how to deal with it, a change in circumstances or just generated from general anxiety disorders. How people deal with stress is very individual but the main symptoms are usually sickness, fatigue, mood swings and, if prolonged, can develop into forms of depression.

Stress management is really important to keep these feelings in check. You may not fully get rid of it but there are definitely ways to relieve stress and keep it under a certain control. What type of coping strategies you use are crucial as what you may think are healthy ways to relieve stress are unhealthy in the long run. Turning to excessive drink, recreational drugs and prescription drugs are obviously going to be detrimental to your overall health but things like sleeping too much, watching TV for excessive periods, projecting your stress onto others by lashing out are all common actions we take when suffering from stress. However, when dealing with stress we need to be proactive in fighting it rather than letting it take over.

Stage 1: Identifying the Cause of Your Stress

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    Stress can be so common that people can live their lives accepting it – they feel it so often that it’s just become a part of their life and they are unable to know how to cope with it. This is when the unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much or constantly taking it out on other people can come into play. It’s common to stress over many things but it’s key to keep your anxiety focused on real, immediate issues, and tune out imagined ones or those over which you have zero control. This will automatically reduce stress overload. It’s really important to first of all admit that you are feeling stressed and then identifying the cause. It’s only in this space that a person can start to develop a management strategy to help overcome the stress in their lives.

    • Write Down What Your Cause Of Stress Is

    Your reasons for feeling stressed may be obvious or they could be disguised in some way. Writing things down helps you clarify what is causing you the stress in your life – even the less obvious ones. One cause of stress can transcend into many causes so it’s important to find the main culprit and then you can start to think about how to deal with it.

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    •  Plan and Organise Your Day-to-Day Life

    The key to fighting stress is structure. When we’re stressed our mind can be a jumble of thoughts which then mirrors other areas of our life. Creating a plan of the day can allow your mind to cope better with the tasks you need to do. Whether at work or home make a rough schedule of what you want to achieve for that day. Remember to make it open and flexible so as to not add to any current stress.

    • Preparation Is Key

    Feeling unprepared can add to existing stress. The beginning and end of the day are key times to get prepared and control possible causes of stress. A good morning routine will set you up for a positive day. Even getting up 15 minutes earlier will help lessen any unnecessary rushing around and give you more time to organise yourself. At the end of the evening clear up anything that needs finishing so your mind is at ease for the following day.

    Stage 2: Relaxation Techniques For Stress Relief

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      Trying to relax is hard when you suffer from stress. It’s often difficult to stay still while the source of stress is still very much at the forefront of your mind. This is why some people turn to binge-watching TV shows or movies because they think this is a good way to unwind and relax. But often, this is having the opposite effect as the mind will wonder back to stressful thoughts almost straight away. Research has shown that people tend to feel worse after watching a big bout of TV as it promotes feelings of failure and procrastination. There are much more positive relaxation techniques that will help against feelings of stress.

      • Mindfulness Techniques

      Mediation is a great way to manage anxiety. There is a huge amount of research that indicates that practising mindfulness and mediation can reduce stress immensely – not only for your mind but also for your body. Reduced stress through meditation results in lower blood pressure which will lessen chances of heart attacks and other stress-related problems.

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      • Breathing Techniques

      Also related to mediation, taking long deep breathes can really help boost the amount of oxygen that the brain receives. Typically someone suffering from stress will have shorter, sharper breathes and this disrupts the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in the body. When you feel particularly stressed, stop and sit down for a few minutes and just concentrate on your breathing. Feel your body relaxing and the muscles losing tension – using this technique several times during the day can help with symptoms of anxiety and clear your head.

      • Doing What Makes You Happy

      This can come in many forms from involving yourself in a hobby you enjoy, making plans with friends to planning a long weekend away. The aim here is to switch off and have fun. Often when we’re stressed, we forget to do the things that we enjoy, which can subtly add more stress to our lives. Being around people that you love and trust can really help lower stress levels, promoting the experience of safety and connection. Avoiding people who are known to stress you out will be beneficial.

      Stage 3: A Healthy Lifestyle For Stress Relief

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        When it comes to stress management nothing does the job better than exercise and diet. Keeping your body healthy will transcend through to your mind. Endorphins are magical when it comes to stress and when released through exercise, they can combat stress fast and effectively. Eating a healthy diet also contributes to stress relief as eating the right foods feeds the mind as well as the body. Finding an all-round healthy routine will help you on your way to down-sizing the stress in your life.

        • Establishing An Exercise Routine

        Exercise should be a priority. It’s important to pick something that you enjoy and you feel you can stick to. Running on a regular basis is especially known to help reduce anxiety, stress and depression but any cardiovascular activity will act as a stress eliminator. Not only will regular exercise make you more relaxed but it will allow you to sleep better. Try exercising with other people as this will encourage you to keep a routine.

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        • Adopting A Healthy Diet

        Eating healthily is a must because a well-nourished body is more prepared to cope with stress. Being mindful of what you’re eating is important as it can be easy to over-eat on the wrong foods when feeling overly stressed. Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast and eating regular healthy meals throughout the day will stop any stressed-induced cravings. Caffeine and sugar can be a hinderance. If you suffer from tiredness and fatigue it is tempting to drink coffee or energy drinks to lift you up but it will often end in a crash affecting your mood attracting further stress. Reducing your caffeine and sugar intake will help level out your body’s reaction to stressful situations.

        • Creating A Good Sleep Pattern

        Since sleep is crucial for daily functioning, any disruption can affect our level of stress which, in turn, can stop us from getting a good night’s sleep. When we fall into this trap it can become routine and our mind and body can start feeling the effects. It’s easy to sleep too much and at irregular times which disrupts our ability to get our 8 hours of sleep a night. Make sure you stick to a good schedule and go to bed at a reasonable hour avoiding any stimulants. If you find it hard to fall asleep try more of the breathing and mindful techniques mentioned earlier – they will help to calm your mind if it’s being over-active.

        Stage 4: Changing Your Perspective Towards Stress

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          For some people stress has become a habit or our natural reactions to stress never change. Sometimes a change in perspective can help overcome stress more easily. Stress starts in the mind and it’s how we react to it that can determine how prolonged it will be. Shifting your mindset on a problem that’s causing you stress can relieve you of the worry and anxiety it creates.

          • Look At The Bigger Picture

          Try to see the bigger picture when it comes to a stressful situation. Ask yourself if it’s really worth getting upset over. Will you still care in a month or a year down the line? How important is this situation for it to cause you this stress?

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          • View Your Problem In A Different Way

          If you find yourself getting stressed then try to think of the problem in a different way. Can you benefit from the situation somehow? For example if you find your commute to work long and tiresome, try to see as it as an opportunity to listen to your favourite music or read that book. Changing the way you perceive your situation to find some benefit to it will diffuse the stress you create around it.

          • Understand That You Can’t Control Everything

          Trying to control a situation and failing will cause you to feel helpless and more stressed. It’s important to understand that you can’t control everything especially other people. Therefore, try to focus on the things you can control like the way you react to situations and other people’s actions. Our mindset is very powerful so make sure you try to shift it to a more positive perspective and you’ll reap the benefits of a less-stressed life.

          Featured photo credit: Mislav Marohnic via flickr.com

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          Published on March 8, 2019

          How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

          How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

          When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

          Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

          Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

          How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

          How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

          Think about your current workouts:

          If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

          In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

          A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

            A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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            Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

            Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

            Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

            Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

            This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

            Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

            Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

            The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

            Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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            Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

            Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

            The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

            The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

            Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

            Meet Strong Stan

            Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

            While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

            While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

            Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

            Meet Flexible Fiona

            Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

            Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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            To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

            Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

            It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

            Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

            Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

            What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

            In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

            In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

            So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

            You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

            If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

            If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

            Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

              Final Thoughts

              If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

              Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

              Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

              With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

              More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

              Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

              Reference

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