Stress Management Tips

Given so many of you are not close enough to join me for Yoga to ease Stress and Anxiety, I’ll share some goodies with you here.

Blair and I have been teaching his signature Stress Reduction Program for about 10 years now, but only last year did I glean the true value and significance of yoga and meditation for today’s stressful times.

From the pressure to meet writing deadlines for school programs, teacher training courses and studio events, not to mention the intense demands of parenthood, I found myself grasping for my practice like a lifeline to sanity. In attempts to manage the workload, I also reached for quick fixes like sugar and chocolate and soon found my energy lower than it had been in years. I also caught five different viruses, a record year of sickness for me.

After having that opportunity to experience enormously high levels of stress, and its physical and psychological repercussions, we have made a conscious effort to do life differently now. And it’s working. My work time is more effective and efficient, my time with the gals is more enjoyable, I have energy to exercise, and my relationship with Blair is rich and romantic. Here’s why….

Stress is one of the many ways in which we respond to our environment. If the senses detect danger, the adrenal glands pump out the stress hormone cortisol. The body was designed to take quick action when this release occurs, but today we are experiencing continuous stress while sitting behind a desk or in a vehicle. Therefore this lethal cortisol is accumulating in our systems, contributing to illnesses ranging from chronic fatigue to depression to cancer.

But here’s the exciting part. When cortisol is center stage, it shuts down the production of anti-aging, stress reducing, feel good hormones. And when our healthy hormones are high, we can better manage the damaging effects of stress.

If you have a hunch that cortisol is stealing your zest for life, here are some suggestions to get your groove back.

1. Decrease stressors. The next time you find yourself in the midst of stress, ask “Is this situation really worth 30 minutes or an hour of my precious life?”
2. When you notice the stress response kick in, remove yourself and take three slow deep breaths (unless you’re driving).
3. Consciously take time daily to lie down, close your eyes and relax. Relaxation and meditation drain tension from your body and alter brain chemistry for the better.
4. Exercise and yoga not only flush out stress hormones but enhance the release of serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter.
5. Social connections and communication boost our sense of belonging and release the anti-stress hormone Oxytocin in women.
6. Consume a diet full of fresh, clean food, low in processed food and sugar. (balanced blood sugar levels prevent spikes in cortisol).
7. Have sex at least three times a week Regular sex not only fosters intimacy but boosts healthy anti-stress hormones, helping us to get our groove on again. If this is not an option for you, a therapeutic massage is a close second.

Your life is too short to live a stress-filled lifestyle. Make the choice today to live more peacefully, with your health as your top priority!