Easy Fast Solutions for Stress Management

24 Feb 2011 12:00 AMChristine Barnes

A little bit of low-level stress for short period of time is useful. Indeed, without being able to feel stress its doubtful that human beings would still be on the earth. Stress could be described as a self-injection of adrenaline (through the stress hormone cortisol) that creates an action that helps us survive.


For example, it can stimulate us to consider a flight or fight reaction when faced with danger – it would have helped save the early cave man to be able to run from away from a wild animal!


Unfortunately, too much stress may damage us in many ways. And our modern day way of living is full of insidious stressors that initiate long periods of exposure to cortisol.  Our adrenals run dry through fatigue, and over a period of time, our digestion system may be impacted upon, our immune system may be compromised, and sleep patterns severely disrupted.  Stress can lead to significant health problems such as heart disease, cancer, accidents, respiratory illness etc as well as aggravate existing illnesses. Up to two thirds of the population see a doctor because of stress related issues. Stress can also lead to many social problems including relationship breakups, road rage, suicide and violence.



Stress might manifest itself in you in many different ways. Tightness in the shoulders, headaches, fatigue, anxiety and confusion, stomach upsets and indigestion, depression, skin problems, exacerbated menopausal symptoms, getting ill too often through a lowered immune system, insomnia, sleep onset or maintenance problems and abdominal obesity are all ways in which the symptoms of stress evidence themselves.


But to reduce stress, we must first understand where modern day stress comes from. Today the experiences that cause a strong stress reaction might include: moving house, financial difficulties, getting married (or divorced), family and relationship difficulties, employment issues, new baby, traumatic life event, health problems, loss of a loved one and daily repetitive irritants that are quite common if you are a small business owner and/or manager. Fortunately, being chased by a wild animal is one stressor that seems to have been reduced over the ages!


Its not as though we don’t try to cope with stress but we often choose the wrong ways, or ways that don’t work very well. Twelve percent of us take medication – but unfortunately that inevitably causes more stress. Nearly 82% watch TV to “unwind” or “forget” – but, again, this can cause more stress. Eating is a common response to stress as is smoking, drinking and drugs – all of which results in more stress. Many people exercise to reduce stress, but exercise done the wrong way may well be self-defeating and an already stressed body and mind may lead to injury.  Even so, healthy and appropriate exercise is one of the many ways to support a stress free lifestyle.  If your level of stress is currently high, check with your natural medicine specialist and medical doctor before starting a new exercise protocol.


So how do we get ourselves into a stressful situation?


We’ll explore two major reasons.


Firstly, our head, heart and hands may be out of alignment.  In other words, our thoughts or values and actions may possibly be out of sync with our actions. Examples might include:- not doing what you want to be doing, not following your heart when choosing a career, a place to live, or a partner, working beyond or below your capabilities,  trying to live a lifestyle out of step with your capabilities,  work and life out of balance,  choosing not to resolve relationship problems etc.


The second major reason is environmental stress, both internal and external. External stressors might be climactic, noise, poor choice of lifestyle, or pollutants such as pesticides and toxins. Internal stressors might be caused by a dietary imbalance, ingesting too low a level of EPA, excessive stimulants (such as coffee, chocolate etc), drugs (alcohols, lifestyle drugs, medications), processed foods, xeno-estrogens, bisphenol, pesticides etc.


If we can tackle both the above areas by bringing our head, heart and hand into alignment together with minimizing our environmental stressors, we’re well on our way to reducing the stress in our lives. But what are the most effective and easiest ways of reducing stress?


There are three fast and easy ways.


Firstly, take care of your body. Remove pollution from your body and remove your body from pollution. Choose not to surround yourself with unwanted pollution such as noise and toxins. Choose not to eat overly processed food. Choose a diet and lifestyle that is supportive of health and wellness. Choose regular massage. Choose to exercise appropriately for your body. Choose to work with a health practitioner to support wellness and nutritive support.


Secondly, synchronize your head (values, beliefs and intelligence), heart (intuition, inner knowing and life passion) and hand (actions). Choose to work in an area that supports your passions. Choose to live where and in a way that does not cause stress. Choose friends that are supportive. Choose to seek support from a professional counsellor if necessary in order to support your transition from stress, and especially if you feel you need to create major changes.  Guidance and support are necessary not only in business, but also to achieve our personal goals.


Thirdly, develop effective mindful techniques. Breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques all have many beneficial properties. They not only assist overall wellness but can also sharpen our focus when learning, feel more peaceful when interacting, and better attune ourselves to the environment. Only 5- 10 minutes a day of guided practice will reduce stress so very quickly and enable us to cope easier with the various stressors that develop through the rest of our day.


Mindful techniques have been shown to help us make healthier life choices in all areas of our life and with regular practice you will feel calm, clear, and experience increased energy and improved decision making.   This will bring positive outcomes to your work and personal life. To this end, I refer you to the 4 part CD series Breath – Relax – Meditate which is series of guided practices that will enable you to quickly reduce stress.