By Faith Chesbrough
Money, work, health, family responsibility, or any combination of the former are all significant sources of stress for Americans. Stress is one of the main barriers that prevents people from living well and reaching their healthy lifestyle goals. The top five ways that adults deal with stress are watching television (for roughly two hours), surfing the internet, napping or sleeping, drinking alcohol, and smoking. These could all be considered unhealthy ways of dealing with stress and are not good outlets in which stress should be relieved. There are many different methods that can be used to relieve stress that are much healthier for the body and soul than these. Since health is a main cause of stress it would only be more beneficial to relieve stress in a more organic, active, and relaxing way.
Yoga is a great way to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and exercise the body. Different yoga poses help relieve different areas of stress from the body. For example, Child’s Pose is a great resting pose that can help clear the mind, Eagle Pose can help ward off stress and improve concentration. This article from the Huffington Post is a great source that showcases the top ten best yoga poses for stress relief, along with photos and descriptions: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/06/10-yoga-poses-for-stress-_n_3000801.html.
Tai Chi and Qigong are types of Chinese body movements (yoga) that specialize in, “emphasizing concentration, relaxation, and the conscious circulation of vital energy throughout the body.” This helps relieve stress in a similar way that general yoga does, but also helps focus the mind on the here and now instead of on primarily the physical here and now. It has a basis in martial arts and is suitable and safe for all skill levels and ages.
Another effective way to relieve stress is meditation. Meditation helps get your mind into a deep state of relaxation and can also bring on a sense of calm, release, and peace. Not only can it help manage and relieve stress it can also help reduce anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and pain. One type of meditation you can do is called Transcendental Meditation where you repeat a phrase or word over and over in a specific way that allows your body to settle into a state of profound rest. You could also look up a guided meditation that you listen too and follow along with. The guide normally just describes things for you to do to help relax the body, such as deep breathing, or describes things for you to imagine which relax the mind, such as a warm energy brushing over your skin or standing in a serene forest. The guide will help bring your body and mind to a calm, grounded state of being. You can Google one, or here is a simple two minute guided meditation for stress release: http://www.fragrantheart.com/cms/free-audio-meditations/relaxation/2mins-release-stress .
There is also a natural flower remedy by Bach that can help relieve panic, distress, fear, and to relax. It comes in spray, gel, cream, and tablet form. Their products are all natural made from flowers and water and are designed to, “gently restore the balance between mind and body by casting out negative emotions such as fear, worry, hatred and indecision which interfere with the equilibrium of the being as a whole. The Bach Flower Remedies allow peace and happiness to return to the sufferer so that the body is free to heal itself.” This is great for stress relief on the go when you don’t have time to stop and do yoga or meditate for all you need are a few drops under the tongue, or a tablet to chew on.
You can also use more unconventional methods to relieve stress such as crystals. You can carry around crystals or hold them in your hands to help bring the body back in harmony, and align the energies of your body. Specific crystals that are good at relieving stress are aquamarine, smoky quartz, amethyst, black obsidian, and hematite. These can probably be purchased at local crystal shops or online. You can focus on their energies and try to absorb them.
Also, never underestimate the power of a good bath. A warm, steaming bath will relax muscle tension, help elevate your mood, and decrease stress hormones. Adding some essential oils to the water, or even diffusing them into the air is a great way to promote relaxation and serenity. Aromatherapy, or essential oil therapy, uses naturally extracted aromatic plant essence to balance, harmonize, and promote health of the body, mind, and spirit. Lavender is a popular essential oil that relaxes and balances the body both emotionally and physically. Frankincense, which is commonly used specifically for stress relief, would be good to try as well for it is aromatic and comforting.
These methods definitely are better for the mind, body, and soul than zoning out on your phone or television. They are definitely healthier than turning to drinking or smoking to help relieve stress. By making any of these methods a part of your daily routine you can help to alleviate the stress in your life on a regular basis or give yourself that extra release you need on a highly stressful day. May peace be upon you.