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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 October 11, 2018

          7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

          7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

          Building and maintaining a strong upper back depends not only on strength-training, but stretching and nutrition as well. Stretching the upper back muscles, along with a healthy diet can help alleviate pain while improving endurance.

          Did you know that stretching your upper back builds endurance for sports, your job – which may require heavy lifting – and simple, everyday activities? Many people who exercise don’t recognize the importance of having a strong upper back, and often neglect this part of the body, focusing more on the lower back where injuries are more prone to occur.

          Upper back endurance is necessary for runners, hikers, golfers, tennis players, bowlers, cyclists; the list goes on and on. If saving time is important to you, you want to reduce chronic back pain, boost your energy levels, or you simply need ways to get through a day at the office while confined to a computer, you’ll begin to understand why the following upper back stretches and exercises are necessary.

          Here are seven stretches, combined with exercises, to help you maintain a strong upper back:

          1. Lat Pull-Downs

          By contracting and lengthening your latissimus dorsi muscles, trapezius, deltoids, rhomboids, teres major, along with the other muscles groups in and around your upper back, you are building muscle endurance and increasing mobility.

          Seated at a lat pull-down machine, select a weight stack that is comfortable. Remember, you’re not preparing for a bodybuilding competition, you just want to exercise the back, so heavy weight is unnecessary.

          Grab the wide bar above your head, palms down, and using a wide grip, pull the bar down to your chest and contract your upper back muscles.

          Keep your head up, looking at the bar. This also helps keep your spine straight and provides a clearance so that the bar doesn’t hit your face. Slowly return the bar to the top and repeat for 15 reps. Do three to four sets.

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          Here’s the correct technique by Denice Moberg:

          2. Indoor Rowing

          If upright exercises like walking on the treadmill or running outdoors bore you, you can strengthen your core using a rowing machine. Not only will you chisel your back, but the elongation of the upper back during the stroke motion creates a good stretch.

          First, select a tension that is challenging but not a struggle. Make sure that your feet are securely placed in the machine’s foot straps, nice and tight to prevent the feet from moving while rowing.

          Next, slide yourself in the rowing saddle forward toward the row bar and pull the bar toward the mid-section of your trunk area, which is the finish. Pulling the bar, bring your elbows beyond your back while contracting your upper muscles and rear shoulders.

          Your back should be straight with a slight angle of around 100 degrees. Do not hunch.

          During the catch, your legs should be at a 90 degree angle while locking out your arms completely. As a stretching exercise, repeat this motion for five minutes.

          Here’s how you can do it:

          3. Side Plank Rotation

          If you’re short on time, floor exercises such as planks strengthen your core and can be done at home or during your lunch break at work. They can be done in 30 to 60 second increments.

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          There are a few plank variations:

          The low-position forearm plank in which your body weight is supported by your elbows; the straight-arm plank, which is a high-position plank; side plank in which your body is turned to one side and supported by one straightened arm; the stability-ball plank which is more challenging for your trunk; and the plank that gives you a good stretch is the side plank rotation.

          To begin the side plank rotation, begin in the high plank position. Slowly turn your body to one side while stacking one foot on top of the other. Extend the opposite arm toward the ceiling and as you lower your arm, reaching underneath your body and rotating your trunk.

          Done properly, you will feel the stretch along your rhomboids and shoulders. Repeat the rotation – reaching and tucking – 10 times. Switch sides.

          Here’s a Side Plank Rotation demonstrated by Train Aggressive:

          4. Yoga Stretches

          A good way to incorporate breathing with stretching and gain flexibility in your core is Kundalini yoga – an intense yoga practice – gets your blood flowing and works wonders for the spine and posture.

          The “Cat-Cow” pose is a great upper back warm-up, and when combined with the “Breath Of Fire”[1] or “fast breathing,” energy is sent through the entire body which stimulates the flow of cell activity and increases lung capacity.

          On all fours, arms straight and directly below your shoulders, and knees directly below your hips, hunch your back, inhaling as you tuck your head into your chest, then exhale while arching your back and raise your head toward to sky.

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          The rapid inhaling and exhaling in this exercise is known as the “Breath Of Fire,” as mentioned above. Increase the pace of both the “Cat-Cow” and “Breath Of Fire” and repeat this movement for up to five minutes.

          This is how to do a Cat-Cow pose for energy:

          5. Side Bends

          This is a simple stretch to elongate the space between your ribs and increase range of motion, which helps achieve flexibility in the abdominals, spine, and lateral core.

          Seated or standing with your back straight, raise your arms above your head and firmly hold your wrist. Gently pull your trunk to one side and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. When finished, repeat on opposite side.

          Note: If standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart, if seated keep your feet flat on the floor.

          Let’s take a look at how to do a standing side bend:

          6. Pole Stretch

          By creating opposing force and pulling on a stationary object, you are stretching your lats. The upper sides of your back. Here, you are performing a static stretch which is a stretch held beyond its normal range.

          Find a pole, mounted gym apparatus, or other floor-affixed object and, while standing, pull on the object with slightly bent knees and back flat at a 45-degree angle.

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          Continue to pull while extending your arms, feeling the stretch in your lats and rhomboid muscles. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat if needed.

          7. Shoulder Blade Stretch

          The shoulder blades are connected to the rhomboid muscles in the upper back. Sudden, quick movements like pulling a heavy object or even tossing a near-weightless object overhead, like a tennis ball during a serve, can strain the unstretched muscles between your shoulder blades, causing spasms.

          Here’s how to avoid muscle strain:

          Standing tall with feet shoulder width apart, gently pull your elbow across your chest, just beneath your chin, and hold for 15 seconds. If you do not feel immediate relief, try lowering or raising the elbow and perform the stretch again. Different angles can make a big difference.

          There you have it – Seven upper back stretches and exercises to reduce pain and improve endurance. But while upper back stretches are important, a diet rich in antioxidants is equally key.

          Bonus Tip: Getting a Diet Rich in Antioxidants

          Antioxidants, also known as “Super Foods,” prevent the build up of free radicals in your body and control oxidative stress. These free radicals are toxins that get in the way of endurance, flexibility, and cause inflammation, among other fitness obstacles.

          How do you incorporate antioxidants into your diet? Here are some common foods and beverages rich in antioxidants:

          A good combination of quick and easy targeted cardiovascular exercises, static stretches, range-of-motion stretches, and yoga poses can increase upper back endurance and boost your energy levels, making your activities – both sedentary and active – manageable and fun.

          Once you begin to incorporate these methods of relief into your routine, you will begin to walk taller, run farther, and hike longer!

          Featured photo credit: Geert Pieters via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1]Yogapedia: Breath of Fire

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