Do you have a lot going on? Are you a bit stressed? Here are 3 things you can start this minute to bring your stress level down!
So much to do, so little time!
This is a common theme for so many of the patients at our downtown Toronto clinic. The same is true for the patients I see in North York. And for my friends from all over the city. Stress is one of the most frequently occurring health problems for people everywhere.
It’s hard to find many people who aren’t busy with a long to-do list, trying to find a proper balance between work and home life. And that’s before we tack on any kind of added stress in the form of personal relationships, financial issues or health issues that might be in our lives at the moment.
All of this stress can be overwhelming. Even if you are hyper-organized, tracking everything on your phone or to-do lists, and you feel that you are managing fairly well, your body might be in perpetual crisis management mode. You may be holding on to tension in muscles, which ultimately results in various symptoms in your body.
How you can best manage your stress is individual to you, but here are some quick and easy ideas that you can incorporate into your life right this minute!
Very cliché and you’ve heard this advice countless times but how often do you do it?
Here’s something I recommend to many of my patients who have a hard time fitting relaxation into their day: choose set events that you can use as a reminder to breathe. Try before and after each meal, as well as before bed. Breathing will help you refocus on the task at hand, it can help you digest better when done with meals, and it will help you leave the day behind so it doesn’t impact your sleep.
I like the following technique: 4-4-6-2. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 6 seconds, hold for 2 seconds and then repeat. Take big belly breaths and focus on the counting. If you complete 4 cycles, it only takes 1 minute, but really helps you re-focus. Do it anytime, anywhere, as often as you like! But just do it. J
2) Download an app.
Somewhat related to our last point, mindfulness can really help rein in stress. I like the “Calm” app which you can download from your app store, or you can check it out on their website, calm.com. Here you can find free, easy to use meditations ranging from 2 to 20 minutes. There are many others online you can use, this is just an example. Try practicing mindfulness at least before bed, but, like the previous point, you can practice this any time you choose and it can take as little as 2 minutes.
This is a great one. An excellent YouTube video titled 23 and ½ hours explains how much healthier we can be with a bit more exercise. A recent study of bankers and insurance workers found that even a 1-hour exercise session a week significantly improved personal and work-related burnout. (It also decreased waist size and lowered blood pressure.) Two sessions a week showed even better improvements.
The idea of starting exercise can be daunting, but be sure to focus on the positive: how energized you feel after a workout, and how ready you are to tackle the world! Start simple, for example a nice brisk walk. Make sure to consult your Naturopathic Doctor or health professional if you need clearance beforehand and to help you build a plan.
There are many other options such as herbs and supplements that I can prescribe to you, which will help with stress relief. I’d be happy to guide you along your health concerns. But these are three steps you can start now, without worry of any interactions or side effects. I challenge you to start at least one of these three things today. Even if you only choose a specific time to begin these changes for right now, you’ve already started! Good luck!
Alan Vu, B.Sc., ND