Thursday, 13 October 2011

Stress Less

I have always found dealing with stress particularly challenging. Sure it's easy to live a stress free existence when everything is working out, but how you feel when the chips are down is a better indication of your ability to deal with stress.

For me, stress manifests itself in a physical way: my skin breaks out, my hair becomes thin and frizzy, my digestive system pretty much packs up shop, I am tired, irritable and prone to snapping at anyone in a 10km radius... I also worry about the long term implications of this stress, such as prolonged insomnia, diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure and headaches.

Dealing with stress is easier said than done, but there are some key techniques to keep in mind during stressful periods to help alleviate some of the grief and help set you on the right path...

1.  Meditation
The most fundamental technique used for managing stress and relieving anxiety is meditation. This can be as simple as sitting alone in a quiet place and focusing on your breath. Try a 'breathing square': breathe in for three seconds, hold for three seconds, breathe out for three seconds, pause for three seconds and repeat. You can also try repeating a mantra or affirmation to yourself, allowing the words to wash over you, try "I am calm, I am in control"

2. Diet
In stressful situations the last thing your body needs is blood sugar spikes caused by high g.i. and sugary foods - opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as oats, grainy bread and rice, nuts, lean proteins, low fat dairy and eggs. These natural foods will stabilise blood sugars and leave you feeling settled and in control

3. Go for a walk
Getting outside and going for a nice, leisurely walk in nature can be a great way to clear your mind and reduce your overall stress levels. For an added bonus walk with a friend that you can talk to or confide in or better yet a dog - an instant pick me up is seeing a furry friend, tail wagging happy to see you!

4. Take a shower and make a herbal tea
When I have had a bad day, nothing feels better than jumping in a nice hot shower and literally washing the day away! Settle down with a good book and a herbal tea - make time for yourself!

5. Pamper yourself
Apply a face mask, a hair treatment and give yourself a manicure - these little things can make you feel much better and help you to forget about the stresses of your day!

6. Comfort Foods
Yes, comfort foods. We all have our favourites and can use an indulgent treat from time to time. The key is to use this treat effectively - don't blow it on cheap chocolates or biscuits; make it special! Try some Lindt dark chocolate balls (yes, you can tell yourself that you are getting an antioxidant fix!) or try cocoa nibs, natures special chocolate surprise. Opt for Greek yoghurt with berries and agave syrup (natural sweetener from a cactus plant). Try Chef Kate McAloon's healthy treat, a Raw Chocolate Torte with Coconut Nut Crust!

We all suffer from stress, but if we try and master these techniques when our stress levels are low, we will be able to implement them quickly and effectively when stress kicks in!!

How do you manage stress?

Love and light,
Lauren xxx

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