By Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC
Responding to stress is a consistent part of our daily lives. How we deal with it affects our minds and bodies. Our health can be compromised by ongoing stress reactions. Ongoing stress can affect our peace of mind and physical vitality. It can harm our bodies and lead to physical symptoms and problems including anxiety and depression.
Our minds can help to calm us or increase our stress. Our bodies’ reactions can be channeled into healthy outputs or be kept in a state of alarm. Dealing with stress takes energy. We face it every day, and how we choose to manage it is extremely important to our whole being – body, mind and spirit.
What do you do when you are stressed? How do you calm yourself? Do you use alcohol to help you relax? Do you eat foods high in sugar and fat to soothe you? How about watching hours of television to distract you? These solutions can sometimes create more stress and problems for us. There are other ways that can help. We can calm ourselves and maintain a peaceful state of mind and a healthy body when we:
1. Practice being calm and relaxed.
We can learn to calm ourselves with relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, as well as biofeedback, prayer, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation. An extremely effective way to activate our relaxation response is to do some deep breathing exercises. Go to Breathing Awareness and Deep Breathing for step-by-step instructions.
2. Calm yourself with activity.
Take a warm bath. Get a massage. Take a walk. Watch a sunset. Enjoy some hobbies. Listen to some music. Sing. Dance. Laugh. Exercise. Physical activity is a great way to burn off stress chemicals.
3. Eat healthy.
Our brain chemicals are controlled by what we eat. A diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates provides the nutrition we need for a healthy body and mind. Sufficient vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants keep us in balance and help to build up our immune systems.
4. Detox your body and mind.
Eliminate unhealthy foods high in sugar, caffeine, and fat. Cleanse the body from built-up toxins caused by poor diet, chemicals, and the environment. Detox your mind of toxic emotions and stinkin’ thinking.’ For information on 10 of the most common cognitive distortions, go to How do you Change the Way You Think?
5. Think healthy & positive.
A healthy mind affects the body. If our thinking is positive and hopeful, it affects our whole being. This famous saying describes it well: Being in a good frame of mind helps keep one in the picture of health.
6. Stay connected with others.
We are made for relationships. Relationships provide love, support, and purpose we need for living. Staying connected with others and building our relationships can help us to cope better with stress and stay calm in the midst of life’s storms.
Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only,
but the mind and spirit as well;
and not today's pain or pleasure alone,
but the whole being and outlook of a man.
~James H. West