Before I shifted into nutrition work, I spent years working as a massage therapist. In that time I saw firsthand the effects of stress on my clients, and the amazing transformations that can happen when they learned how to change their relationship with stress.
Stress is a factor in almost every condition you can think of. You’ve heard how you need to lower your stress to be healthy, right? But how often have you been shown how to actually lower it? The assumption is that you need to cut stressful things out of your life. But how can you do that when so many stressors can’t be removed? Kids are stressful, work is stressful, paying bills is stressful, the state of the world is stressful. Do you have a line to a world that is free of problems, where there’s no need to work or pay bills? If so, please direct me there. If not, let’s talk about other ways to lower stress.
Meditation has been shown in study after study to reduce stress. By consistently training your mind to be present in the here and now, you can re-wire stress building habits that are second nature. The deep breathing involved also stimulates the Vagus nerve, which is known to lower stress by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Journaling has also been shown to lower stress in studies like this one. Why? Our minds will continue to examine a stressful situation, looking for solutions. Journaling gives the mind an outlet, allowing the mind to let go of the situation.
Walking meditation is my personal favorite technique to use with my clients, since so many struggle with seated meditation. The effects aren’t as quantifiable as with seated meditation, but I find that they’re more applicable to day-to-day life.
Why is all of this important? Because it affects how you perceive every moment of your life. It does so directly by directing your thoughts, and indirectly by affecting your health in all sorts of negative ways.
Think of your favorite moments in life, the ones that were transcendent. How many of those did you spend with your mind elsewhere? These stress relief techniques train you to spend more time in the here and now, which helps you lower stress, even from those sources that are unavoidable.