Written by: Jenny Smith
Stress is a part of modern life, but the danger is when stress becomes the norm and we fail to recognise the signs of an overstressed system. Do you know what it feels like to be calm and stress-free? Would you say that your system is settled and relaxed and that you have a feeling of spaciousness about you?
If the answers are no, don’t beat yourself up about it, you are absolutely not alone. The majority of people in the west are now operating with over active adrenal glands pumping out hormones to sustain a level of internal activity that tightens muscles, increases blood pressure, shortens breath and fogs up the mind and memory. Sound familiar? Ok, so what to do about it.
Observe your habits
Firstly, it is important to notice when these symptoms either appear or increase. Take time out regularly to observe both your muscles and your breathing patterns. Are your muscles sore or tight? Is your stomach tight and do you habitually clench your hands? Is your breath shallow? Do you forget to breathe?
There are countless techniques for reducing stress: meditation, yoga, visualisation etc. All of these are great and work effectively on the nervous system to return it to a place of peace and stability and if you are inclined towards practising any of these, they will be a very supportive ally in overcoming stress.
Notice your senses
An alternative or complementary approach is to reduce your stress through attention to your senses. Returning your attention to your sensory experience is a fantastic way to unhook from a busy mind and come back into the present in ways that are enjoyable and nourishing.
If you are a visual person, surround yourself with images that soothe and uplift you, or spend time either directly outside where you can feast your eyes on wildlife and nature or sit in a window where there is a beautiful natural view. If you are lying in bed, use your imagination to bring your favourite images to your inner eye.
If audio is your thing, listen to your favourite sounds; be it a classical symphony or the natural sounds of birds or the sea. Make yourself playlists that you can listen to when you are on the move and that will also help you drop off to sleep last thing at night.
If you are someone who zone’s out through stress, bring lovely smells more consciously into your life. Buy some essential oils and put some drops into a water spray bottle and spray around the house. Put drops of lavender in your bath and on your pillow and bury your head in flowers when you are out and about!
For touch, wrap yourself in blankets, invest in an electric one for your bed during cold months so that your physical system gets a big slow down as you go to sleep. If you‚Äôre a pet lover, they can be great at relieving stress just by stroking them and relaxing with them. Also treat yourself to a regular massage and hot baths and time lying in the sun!
Finally for taste, indulge in your favourite foods and experiment with eating with your eyes closed so that the taste sense intensifies. Why not get your partner to play a game where they feed you surprise foods straight into your mouth so that the tastes sizzle and pop on your taste buds! Experiment with eating very slowly so that you savour both flavours and textures. Above all, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! The energy of joy is the absolute antidote for stress!