Ever feel like you’re being pulled in multiple directions all at once? Like the tumultuous cycle of every day life seem to be never ending? We all at one point or another (and for some an every day occurrence) get so burned out from the things in life that causes us stress we end up feeling like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, life can be stressful and demanding but we also have the power to find ways to reduce that struggle and eliminate them if necessary.
Take for instance the busy mom or dad who struggles to put food on the table all the while caring for their children, maintaining a household, and still have just enough energy to start the next day with the same cycle. We don’t necessarily like doing those things, but we have to because of responsibilities. But one day we may realize that through all the daily strains of responsibilities, when we don’t take care of ourselves we can’t truly take care of our loved ones happily.
I’ve learned through many lessons in life that when we don’t eat properly or have a calm mindset we can’t function on a mindful level. We are in essence, going through the motions and what kind of living is that? I’ve tried many remedies in the past and come to understand that when we are in tune with our bodies, we are better acquainted to what our body needs. Listening to what our bodies are telling us is an important factor to helping relieve stress and maintaining a healthier outlook on how to reduce stress. We all feel stress but we don’t have to let it take over our lives.
Below are some of the tried and true methods in helping reduce stress. Try them out if you haven’t already and see if your path will become more enlightened.
Essential Oils: Certain essential oils (which are the extracted compounds of plants) help with certain ailments. Essential oils are the natural parts of plants that go through a rigorous process of drawing out the liquid and turning it into concentrated oils. These essential oils can be used concentrated or diluted depending on the usage and the dosage. For the most effective kinds of essential oils, look for plants that trigger certain therapeutic results such as relieving stress, calming the nerves, and soothing headaches. Certain essential oils can be applied topically and straight out of the bottle while others work well diluted with water or blended with other oils. Essential oils have been used for centuries in almost all countries and prove to be both effective and preventative. They can be found in natural grocery stores as well as some spas and salons.
Common essential oils include:
Lavender – helps with anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and stress. Use in baths, lotions, or inhale from the bottle.
Ylang-Ylang – helps to increase a sense of well-being. Use in bath or mixed with lotion. Do not overuse as it may cause nausea.
Bergamot – helps with reduction of stress and depression. Use in lotions or inhale from the bottle.
Peppermint Leaves – helps with eliminating pain if applied topically, relieves headaches, and increase blood flow in targeted areas. Use as a topical treatment when diluted with water or inhale from the bottle.
Eucalyptus Leaves – helps relieve headaches and muscle tension. Great for clearing up sinus as well. Use in diffuser or diluted with water.
Cedarwood – helps with calming one’s mind and senses. Clarifies the mind and brings peaceful sleep. Use in diffuser or apply directly to skin.
Meditation: Perhaps one of the oldest ways of relaxation and concentration. It can be practiced by anyone of any age and is best when practiced on a regular basis so your body and mind can become accustomed to instant relaxation.
Start off in a quiet setting. Turn off all phones and electronic devices that can be distracting. If possible, choose a darkened but well ventilated room. Sit either on the floor or on the couch. Your hands can be relaxed in your lap, palms facing up. Clear your mind of all thoughts but don’t strain to do so. Let the mind naturally relax and gravitate to a point of emptiness. This means that you have no particular thoughts but you’re not trying too hard to have a blank mind either. In time, your mind will naturally be empty of immediate thoughts and images. Sit in the position for at least 20 minutes every day. As you get accustomed to the sitting position and your mind and body are cleared and relaxed, you can add more time to your meditation. I can usually sit for up to 40 minutes at the most and I usually do this in the evening just to decompress.
Self-massage: Massage doesn’t require someone to do it for you. We don’t always have the time or resources to get a professional massage so practice self-massage. To do so, be in a quiet, darkly lit room. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Starting with your hands, start the massage from the elbow and gently massage in a circular motion to your fingers. Massage each finger carefully and tug gently to loosen the bones. Massage the center of your palms until it gets hot. Then, move your fingers to massage your head. Moving slowly from the temple to the back of your head and down your neck. Next massage your ears in a circular motion and gently pull on the skin. Then move to massage your knees. There are pressure points in your knee area that are great for relieving tension and promote healthy sleep. Massage down your calves and work towards your feet. Massage the soles of your feet applying harder pressure. Then massage the entire foot remembering to put pressure at certain points.
In Eastern medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body consists of thousands of pressure points and meridians. These meridians and channels are what acupuncturists, herbalists, massage therapists, and the likes use to help and heal certain illnesses and diseases. When you constantly practice self-massage, you can help open up these meridians in your body to help you heal faster and prevent certain illnesses.
Proper Nutrition: We all fall victim to eating “junk food” now and then because they are created to trigger certain moods and emotions in our body. Sugar and sodium for example are triggers that elicit certain emotions in our brains causing us to think we are happier and more relaxed. But sugar and sodium are also the most habit forming ingredients that can cause major damage to our bodies if we overuse them. Proper nutrition including a balanced diet of organic and non-toxic fruits and vegetables give our bodies the necessary vitamins and minerals to be healthy. Protein such as very lean meats are necessary for some people but protein can also be found in nuts, soy, and legumes such as beans and lentils. Eating a healthy diet consisting of more plants can help you live longer and better. Because we don’t always know what animals eat, we are in essence eating whatever is produced by their bodies. Certain plants can promote a healthier well being and create better moods due to a balance in one’s body.
Exercise: Exercise comes in many forms but the most stress-relieving types are ones that balance the whole body. These include but are not limited to yoga and taichi where the mind works in alignment with the body. These types of therapeutic exercises also help with breathing and focus. Breathing is very important in most exercises as we are channeling the proper amounts of oxygen into our brains. In the instances of yoga and taichi, breathing works with different movements for more concentrated results.
Breathing Exercise: You wouldn’t think that breathing requires technique but in essence it really does. Proper breathing helps relax the mind and turn chaotic thoughts into peacefulness. This technique can work virtually anywhere; it just requires some concentration in the beginning. Start by closing your eyes. Inhale slowly and imagine a thread pulling you from the center of your body through the top of your head. Exhale slowly and release that thread. Repeat these steps several times until you physically feel your body relax and your mind rested. Deep breathing exercises can be used when you’re sitting in traffic, in the office, or even at home when you need a calming moment.
All of the methods above have proved to be effective ways of relieving stress and tension. While we may not be able to perform everything mentioned, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try at least a couple of them. Find out what works for you and practice them often.
Disclaimer: Please remember that the methods mentioned do not constitute medical advice. Seek appropriate medical care when necessary. When using essential oils, it’s recommended to use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety guidelines from the manufacturer.