How often do you feel stressed or overwhelmed?
Stress is one of the leading causes of both mental and physical health problems. They call it the silent killer as it seems to be a precursor to so many issues.
While a certain level of stress is normal and even necessary for survival, prolonged or chronic stress can lead to serious health problems.
Chronic stress is something that can creep up on us over time. We live in a fast-paced society with a lot of expectations, things that need to be done, and habits/behaviours that stimulate the mind, triggering the stress response.
Stress can have a significant impact on our mental health, leading to a range of problems including anxiety, depression and burnout.
Chronic stress can cause the body to release cortisol, a hormone that can cause changes in the brain’s chemistry and structure, leading to mood disorders.
Believe it or not, we can even become addicted to cortisol, making it uncomfortable to relax or have nothing to do. Many people who’ve experienced stress as children find that as adults they’re uncomfortable to just be and be relaxed. Instead we have created negative coping behaviours, ie. addictive behaviours, to take us out of the moment to … distraction. We may use alcohol or drugs, scrolling, binge watching or binge eating, porn or sex, anything that distracts us from what’s real now.
Others develop a pattern of social isolation, often to cope from the stress of their fear of being judged. These patterns of addictive behaviours and social isolation, which are initially started to reduce stress can further exacerbate mental health problems.
Stress can also have a profound impact on physical health. Chronic stress can cause the body to release adrenaline and other stress hormones, leading to increased blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Over time, this can lead to a range of physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease, digestive problems, and weakened immune systems. Chronic stress can cause muscle tension, headaches, and sleep problems. (How many people have sleep issues at the moment!! I hear this regularly.)
Although reading this may seem a bit doom and gloom, there are easy things you can do to help your mind and body relax.
By making a choice to work on your mental and physical wellbeing, you take back control of how you are feeling which creates the perfect space for change.
The first thing to do is to notice whether you are stressed.
Think about the last time you had nothing to do – how did you feel? Did you just relax, or did you find things that needed to be done?
Does the idea of taking time out for yourself make you feel uncomfortable?
Do you have moments of quietness in your mind, or is it racing with things you haven’t done yet?
As you do this exercise, if you feel a feeling of stress rise up in your body, I want you to shake it out. Stand up if you can and run on the spot or shake and as you do, imagine all that stress shaking out of your body. I imagine it as red dust leaving my body. You will know when to stop; you may feel yourself yawn or just your body just let go.
When this happens, put your hands on your heart, breathe in, and let yourself know everything is okay.
The second thing is fresh air and grass! Read some of the science behind earthing here. Take off your shoes and socks, stand in the grass, close your eyes just for a moment, and feel yourself reset and relax. Grounding has such an important role in creating a less stressful life. Breathing in the fresh air, taking a moment just for you is priceless.
A wonderful practice you can do daily to both help yourself release tension as well as elevate your mood, is cyclical sighing. This was studied during lockdown by Stanford University and found to be the most effective of the breathing techniques they studied. It’s simple – breathe in deeply through your nose, filling your lungs, then take a second, deeper sip of air through your nose, expanding your lungs as much as possible. Then, very slowly, exhale through your mouth until all the air is gone. Repeat for 5 minutes. You can also do it for shorter periods of time when you’re aware that you’re stressed and it’ll bring you back to an active and aware consciousness, just 5-10 breaths will do it.
Please reach out if you are feeling overwhelmed. Hypnotherapy is very effective in helping reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. In a 2019 analysis of research, people who received hypnosis reduced their anxiety levels by more than 79% on average compared to participants who didn’t receive hypnosis. Hypnotherapy can help you address the underlying causes of stress, develop coping strategies, and learn how to relax and manage stress in a healthy way.
Remember, reducing your stress is crucial for your overall health and well-being. Take some steps today to destress and enjoy life more.