Six Simple Steps to Reducing Stress
'A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress extremely well.'
Time To Talk is an annual day dedicated to raising awareness around mental health. However, the unfortunate truth of the matter is that mental health issues are not limited to one day a year. With 85% of the UK population reportedly suffering from stress, we thought it was right for the conversation to continue...
While it simplifies a complex metamorphosis that takes place over millions of years, it's a useful analogy; how we handle the innate stress of modern life, can to some degree, be our own choice. Along with regular exercise, meditation, mindfulness and yoga, these six habits can slip seamlessly into your life to uplift your mind, make you shine and protect long-term health and wellness.
1. Deep Pranayamic Breathing Works Wonders
Pranayamic breathing is a wonderful yogic technique to use whenever you're feeling anxious. It provides scientifically validated benefits , including a lower heart rate, decreased blood pressure and relaxing theta brain wave production.
Simple Pranayamic breathing
- Sit comfortably with a straight spine
- Place your tongue gently on the roof of your mouth (an essential yogic principle)
- Inhale through your nose for six seconds
- Hold your breath for three seconds
- Exhale for six seconds
- Hold your breath for three seconds
- Repeat for 10 cycles of 6-3-6-3
2. Take Contrast Showers
Similar to the philosophy of 'Swallowing a frog first thing in the morning' to aid work productivity – cold shower therapy has a growing number of advocates, particularly among entrepreneurs who use the strategy to build mental resilience, in addition to combating stress.
A study published in the Medical Hypotheses Journal in 2008 studied the effects of cold water showers on depression and reported positive effects. During testing, subjects entered a warm shower until it was gradually cooled to 20 degrees, twice a day. Doctor Nikolai Shevchuk, who led the study, speculates that exposure to cold increases levels of endorphins, noradrenaline and electrical activity in the brain, which may reduce stress. Taking contrast showers with a hot:cold ratio of 1:1 for 5-10 minutes is a simple way to benefit from cold therapy.
3. Self-massage to Ease Anxiety
The art of massage is a research-validated holistic therapy – but unfortunately few of us have the luxury of a daily massage therapist visiting our home or office. However, studies from the University of Miami suggest that self-massaging such as foam-rolling and feet rubbing, is an effective and easy alternative that can reduce anxiety and stress, increase alertness and enhance work productivity.
4. Take Neubria Shine Mood Supplement
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5. Use Lavender Essential Oil to Calm Your Mind
The use of lavender essential oil in clinical trials, has provided scientific evidence suggesting that the plant can calm the nervous system and potentially provide neuro-protective benefits. Studies have demonstrated that inhaled lavender suppresses the amygdala and hippocampus - brain regions known to be affected by stress.
When used within a topical massage oil, lavender is absorbed rapidly and calms the nervous system . You can enjoy the soothing effects of lavender by placing a few drops of oil in a diffuser, on a cushion at night, or into a massage oil base such as almond.
6. Listen to Rippling Water to Wash Away Stress
Studies into music suggest a novel way to reduce stress – listen to running water and other natural sounds . Doing so has been shown to positively alter your stress response via the HPA axis – the part of your brain that contains the adrenal glands.
These simple interventions can be seamlessly integrated into your life, to soothe away stress. Why not give them a try and try to factor them into your regular routines?
Jerath, R. et al., Feb 2006. Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: Neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system. Published: Medical Hypotheses, Elsevier.
Shevchuk, N., Nov 2007. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Published: Medical Hypotheses, Elsevier.
Hernandez-Raif M. et al., Jan 1999. Smoking cravings are reduced by self-massage. Published: Preventative Medicine, Elsevier.
Peir Hossein, K. et al., March 2013. Lavender and the nervous system. Published: Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, Elsevier.
Cavanagh H.M. et al., June 2002. Biological Activities of Lavender essential oil. Published: Phytotherapy Res, Elsevier.
Thoma, M.V. et al., August 2013. The Effect of Music on the Human Stress Response. Published: PLoS One: Vols. 1 to 13, Elsevier.