Stress: The Silent Killer
It was the title of a documentary I watched last week and clearly it struck a chord because I'm all fired up about stress these days.
Here's the thing - there have been studies that show stress leads to more susceptibility to disease and, yes, death. Let's not freak out though, because you're actually much more well off than you think! For starters, you have the internet and are conscious about your health or you wouldn't be here reading this blog. So there's a start. But let's kick that up a notch! Here are 5 simple (PROVEN) ways to diminish stress and start healing your body and mind:
1. Therapeutic Writing
Grab a pen and paper and start writing. This can be anything. You don't have to pour out pages and pages of feelings and emotions. You can start with a few words or sentences. A list of what's going on in your day. 3 things your grateful for in your life. Just write. Putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard is an amazing way to lower your stress.
2. Breathing Exercises
This takes just a couple minutes and can change the course of your day. Lie on your back and place on hand on your belly, one on your heart. (your knees can be bent or straight). Exhale and push out every last bit of breath from your body. Inhale 1/3 of the breath in to your belly. Pause and hold it in (just for a sec). Inhale another 1/3 in to your ribs. Pause. Inhale the last 1/3 of the breath in to your chest. Pause at the top. Exhale 1/3 from the chest. Pause. 1/3 from the ribs. Pause. 1/3 from the belly. Pause. Repeat until you've done 3 sets.
3. Social Support
In the age of the internet social support can seem like it's everywhere ... but is it really? Research shows that actual physical presence of a support group can not only lower your stress, but repair the damage stress can cause on your chromosomes (yes, your DNA is affected by stress. WOAH). If you can't meet with a lovely supportive group of people, don't push it or try and fake it. Sharing in the wrong kind of social setting can have the opposite effect on your stress levels. Virtual communities can also do the trick, again, IF they're the right kind.
I cannot stress enough the importance of exercise and how AMAZING a walk is for the mind and the body. You can have your hot yoga and your HIIT and your super intense Crossfit but a nice brisk walk? That's where the real magic happens. Lace up some cute tennis shoes (I like these), and head out for a walk - go to the coffee shop around the corner, head to a park, go walk to get your groceries or just walk around the neighborhood taking Instagram pics of cute houses (not just me, right?). Walking is one of my absolute favorite exercises and ANYONE can do it.
5. Talk to an Expert
There are a lot of people out there who help with stress. A therapist, a life coach, and yes, shameless plug, a wellness coach ;) We know the research, the tools, the ways to get you to figure out for yourself how to best cope with stress. If you can't seem to figure it out for yourself, seek some help. There is no shame, and only power that can come from admitting that you need a little support (I personally have worked with a therapist, life coach, business mentor and a health coach. I'm all about the help now)!