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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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          Jenny Marchal

          A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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          Published on January 17, 2020

          How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

          How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

          If you think yoga can be learned on the mat, you’re wrong! To learn yoga is to learn yourself, your life and the world around you, which happens mostly off the mat.

          Since 2000, I study, practice, teach and live yoga – I grow with it from year to year – hence life becomes more interesting and more meaningful from year to year, too. Through all these years, I observe the evolution of yoga in the western culture and see, how (mostly) wrongly, has been interpreted, taught and practiced. Little is known about how to learn yoga – about its practice, its effect and its application. Yoga is all about finding the simplicity and the meaning in the complexity of life.

          But when we look around us, it doesn’t seem so simple, even for those who practice it, and for the most who teach it. Everything about yoga begins in its definition from the original yogic scripture Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[1]

          And the value for how to learn yoga, is in this article – showing the value of the above definition and how to practice it in the simplest way, effectively and efficiently.

          What is Yoga?

          Yoga-Citta-Vrtti-Hirodhah — and its translation is: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations arising within consciousness.

          The 195 Sutras, that the original yoga scripture consists of, are written in a strongly compressed manner with the idea to deliver a profound meaning and a lot of space for interpretation. However, the interpreter must be highly serious and competent, otherwise the interpretation will drastically deviate from what the message conveys.

          When the definition about yoga is interpreted and applied the right way, it tells us how yoga is to be practiced and explored. To start the right way, we must know the right destination of yoga, which is Kaivalya:[2] The union between you, the other and the world.

          Let’s see how to do that:

          Beginning with the famous mainstream slogan “Union of Body, Mind and Soul”, brings up the question, “How to reunite the body, mind and soul?”

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          Your feelings – created by outside stimuli result in the creation of thoughts, hence there’s connection between your body and mind. That’s easy to understand, right?

          Now this connection and the thoughts must serve and improve the mind, making it capable to 1) understand the soul and 2) to unite it with the body and mind. That’s where our journey towards the goal of yoga (Samadhi) is interrupted – making the main part of the union not easy to understand, even less so to accomplish.

          Yoga is More Spiritual than Physical

          This is what makes yoga more spiritual than physical. To put it in numbers, yoga is 97% of psychological, philosophical and spiritual nature and only some 3% of physiological, considering that there are only seven out of 195 Sutras referring physiologically to sitting and breathing, of which I talked in my earlier post on Yoga For men.

          But before experiencing any spirituality from yoga, there is the mental (emotional) part that needs to be mastered and that part is to establish a connection between the body and mind. How?

          The simple thought and realization that you are conscious of how you feel within your body (cold, warm, relaxed, depressed, anxious, happy and so on), means that you have made the union between your body and mind. (below the step by step exercise for that).

          But to establish a connection to your soul – to the finest part of yourself – the Self:

          You must find out (through thinking) what is the subtlest thing that drives your body and mind – yourself as an individual and use that driver to go pass beyond your physicality and mentality.

          It is right here that you use the definition about yoga and the realization – the moment, where you are not analyzing any thoughts or feelings. This is a state of Yoga – a state of union between body, mind and soul, in which your consciousness has ceased to identify with its fluctuations.

          Yoga as Creativity and Expertise of the Individual

          In such a case, there is no specific (like beginners, intermediate or advanced) technique for learning yoga. The moment of the state of yoga arises for everyone of us in an individual way as everybody’s physique and mental content are different. You might be very well advanced in performing the most difficult asanas for decades but still unable and incompetent to be in a state of union with your body, mind and soul. Whereas, if you are a beginner and possess the grace and other virtues, than it’s easier and quicker to establish that connection.

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          As yoga is an inherent part of the human being, firstly, in order to pave the yoga path successfully and effectively, you must understand that yoga is not a technique for performance, but rather a creativity and expertise of yourself.

          Your learning process cannot be focused on, nor conditioned by a certain handbook, someone’s instructions or some specific school.

          Learning yoga requires your creativity to look within yourself and learn from yourself, become the expert of your feelings, emotions and desires. You, as a beginner might already possess many qualities and prerequisites for creating the union between your body, mind and soul, but your knowledge requires creativity for your growth to reach the state of union and then reap the fruits of that union. Once this happens there is no turning back – you’ll be pulled by the beauty and energy of your on being.

          Be Fast Mentally and Slow Physically

          As already mentioned, you don’t need to do physical performances like the split or the headstand to be able to immerse in a deep meditation or Samadhi. But you do need enough creativity for your self-inquiry.

          Many of my students start working directly with meditation – attending the complexities of the mind, because that’s where the hindrances lie. There, the meditator is able to work on the cessation of identifying with the fluctuations of the consciousness – where intelligence expands, adversity ends and the individual is ready to pass through its physicality and mentality in order to reach the union with the soul.

          But if you’re really a beginner and cannot start with that, then you can start enhancing your creativity on the body-mind level. The exercise follows in the next paragraph.

          The greater your creativity, the better your expertise about yourself – the deeper your competence to inquire further into the union with your soul. Sure enough that a more pliable and healthy physical body has some advantages and better preconditions for that, but don’t get discouraged because your body-mind union will open up the way.

          So here we are, you are at the moment to enhance your creativity upon that union. Please, take this as a very serious part of the practice as it is crucial for learning yoga – for learning yourself.

          The Beginner’s Exercise – Creativity upon Body-Mind Union

          The first and most important element to learn and practice yoga is of physiological and psychological nature: Stillness:

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          1. Make sure your body is still and comfortable.
          2. Focus on breathing to initiate observing.
          3. Observe your body and identify the first feeling that occurs to you.
          4. Keep identifying feelings and emotions, but without getting involved with them.
          5. Now create feelings and emotions as you please and let them go.

          That’s it! That’s the creativity upon the body-mind union. The validity of this creativity lies in the stillness and observance of that union. In this practice you can learn to understand and catch the moment – the main ingredient of life.

          Life is a sequence of moments and knowing that you’re able to manage that sequence is a new level of living life, called dharma – the practical and skillful way of living. An essential character develops as a result of practicing this discipline.

          However, be aware that we are still talking about outward elements of yoga – the gross levels (from Yama to Pratyahara) whereas the subtle, inward elements (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) are yet to be approached, learned and implemented. It is on these subtle levels that you can realize the depth of spirituality and the essence of yoga.

          It is remarkable how the science of yoga can take you in such heights and depths of exploring life and being. Little is known about the essence and the right practice of yoga in the west. There is a huge knowledge gap between how yoga should be learned and how it is practiced today in the west. You can bridge this gap by practicing the above exercise.

          Know that yoga is of a very subtle nature – operating on a subtle energetic level – the level of your mental energies, your thoughts. That means that it is to be learned at that level and not on any other. A body posture alone cannot take you to that level if you don’t apply your creativity and self-inquiry.

          Prerequisite for Yogic Success – Union between You and the Other

          Yoga is nothing, if our relationships with others are not managed harmonically.

          Learning yoga is also learning connecting with the other – with the stranger who’s not you but carries the same “core”, the same heart as you. We as individuals, possess the inborn feature of Ego – the “I-consciousness” that makes us feel separate from the rest of what makes the wholeness.

          This separation is the second of the the five “klesah” afflictions[3] – that stand as major hindrance against the union (Yoga) – called “asmita” or I-am-ness / Egoism (Y.S. II.6.), and has to be cultivated and brought to a level of discernment that will lessen our disturbance that comes out the fragmentation between the “I-am-ness” and the “Other-ness”.

          This is a crucial concept in Yoga and it is inevitable to be worked upon this hindrance in order to reach the inner “psychological” freedom or the ultimate liberation “Kaivalya” for which Yoga stands for. But, again, if you are beginner in this part, you want to know how to start dealing with all this. Here is the exercise:

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          1. Practice observance from the first exercise.
          2. Realize that the structure of your feelings, emotions, etc. is identical with the one of the other individuals.
          3. Practice witnessing, tolerating and gradually accepting the diversity between yourself and the other individuals.
          4. Observe for so long with equanimity, until you see the uniformity in that diversity.

          This is one of the greatest accomplishments a human being can achieve. To be, means, to be in relationship – internally, as well as externally.

          Yogic Lifestyle – Union Between You, The Other and The World

          Here comes the last piece of the puzzle – the union – on the highest level of worldly existence – between you, the other and the world. This means that Yoga is also worthless if practiced only on the mat. So when learning yoga, especially when practicing the body-mind union, consider if:

          You speak the language of nature and how you’re connected to nature and its basic elements? Do you complicate your existence by thinking that you are in the center of the world and require extra attention and acknowledgement?

          Thinking this way interferes with the practice of yoga. And surely, you might wonder, what should be done here in order to create that harmony in union? You’d be amazed to know that there is one important yogic movement that needs to be done. That is:

          The action of not doing anything but contemplating! Then yoga happens.

          Yes, this goes beyond the physicality and mentality of your being. As our bodies play just a tiny part of the evolution of existence, we must not attach to the world in that sense – clinging to worldly life with that insatiable urge that generates worries and anxiety – but rather grow through life with detachment and the attitude that life has been gifted to us with the purpose to realize that gift and attain the wisdom of life.

          Go Beyond Your Physicality and Mentality

          Attaining greatness like connecting to the world and to your soul, we must pass beyond the thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the influence they have on us. Hence we want to make the mental fluctuations to cease and let yoga shine its light through this yogic movement:

          The stillness and the watching within.

          Can yoga be understood and achieved in one single session and then practiced continuously, productively and effectively? Of course it can. Your union within yourself, the other and the world is lot simpler and easier than you think. Practice these simple yogic movements diligently, seriously but also effortlessly and your yoga will be flourishing and fruitful. I salute the spirit in you!

          More About Yoga

          Featured photo credit: Avrielle Suleiman via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
          [2] Wikipedia: Kaivalya
          [3] Plato Stanford: Klesah

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