March 31, 2020
When the world is in panic mode and you feel overwhelmed, managing stress can sound like a lofty idea. But learning how to reduce your anxiety with some easy conscious tips will help you live better and healthier in the long term too.
There’s no question that stress is at the forefront of everyone's lives right now. While stress is actually a primal and necessary reaction within the body, it can do a lot of damage when not managed properly, especially in a crisis.
Here’s how to fast track your way to ultimate stress management to see this crisis through and come out of it better than you went into it.
The trick is to reserve this stress response for in-the-moment life threatening situations.
Stress is an alarm that signals dangerous threats to your brain to protect you.
For instance, walking down the road and hearing a car’s tyres hissing on the tarmac, will instantly cause a rush of adrenaline. That rush is stress doing its job by putting the body in fight-or-flight survival mode, causing you to jump safely out of the way.
This fight-or-flight mode is the sympathetic nervous system in action as opposed to the parasympathetic nervous system which assists rest and recovery.
In times of immense continuous stress, the body assumes it’s in danger continuously and wants to “keep you safe” by being on high alert 24/7. The problem is that the body’s immune function is very low on the priority list when the sympathetic nervous system is doing everything it can to keep you on high alert for immediate danger.
This is a serious problem when one of the threats is of the health variety such as a viral pandemic. In times like these though, the body's best defence is a robust immune system which is only nurtured in the state of rest and repair. And these two never operate simultaneously, hence the incredible importance of managing the stress response.
There are many situations that may be spiking your anxiety levels right now. From excess time in close quarters with family members to too much news input, and of course the general feeling of uncertainty for the future.
Being aware of these triggers will help you to consciously decide how to handle them. For instance, if reading news makes you feel anxious right now, choose official sources only (more facts, less alarm) and limit yourself to twice daily checks so you are informed but not panicked.
When feeling overwhelmed, take a minute to stop, breathe and ground yourself. Grounding (or earthing) is a great way to relieve some stress. This can be as simple as lying on the grass or standing barefoot in the early morning dew.
This reconnects the body with the earth’s surface electrons. This may not sound like much but it’s an incredibly powerful strategy for stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, and cells.
When panic and extreme anxiety hits, acupressure is a great way to support the body and encourage the nervous system back to homeostasis. There are many points throughout the body that when pressed induce a calming effect.
An acupressure mat is a very effective and efficient tool to pull out in a moment of super stress. Lying on a flat mat or rolling it up and placing it between the shoulder blades does wonders for calming and relaxing the body through a web of acupressure points.
Adopting a consistent meditation practice is crucial to warding off the effects of stress. Meditation is a compounding practice that adds up over time to create a more resilient system. So that when a stressful event occurs, the nervous system has the ability to respond appropriately. A calm, conscious response offers far better options than the automatic stress reaction that would otherwise kick in.
There are many ways to meditate and infinite resources to draw from. The most important point to ensure efficacy is to make this a part of the daily routine NO MATTER WHAT.
This is one practice that won’t show you instant results, but over time you’ll notice that the time between the stressful event or thought and your reaction will take longer and longer, allowing you the time to choose how to respond.
Remember, the future is always uncertain and beyond our control even under “normal” circumstances, but the thing that is within our control is how we choose to respond in every moment.