Do you know those days when it looks like the toast just ends up with the avocado side down? You put your ponytail back and carry on, then boom! Another disc lands on the floor. I recently had one of those Days. All three of my children were late for their activities. Which, of course, were on opposite sides of town. And the traffic that day was more braking than accelerating. So I missed the barre class that I had been looking forward to all week in my studio “no refunds, no excuses”. When I got back into the car, internally (okay, externally) cursing, my tire burst causing a riot on the freeway that ended with me being stuck with a flat tire on the side of the road – without my phone charger. In other words: avocado. All over. When I finally made it back to my home instead of thinking about how to relieve stress bring it to the mat or Grounding in the back yard with a cup Natural calm, I did what many of us do … poured some alcohol on the situation.
I decided that a good, stiff cocktail would be enough, even though I knew one would likely lead to two (three), which would inevitably get me on my heels in the morning. A few G & T’s deep, the stress of the day would have subsided, but as expected the throbbing headache showed up like an unwanted houseguest the next day. And to top it off, my old friend fear, which I try to keep at bay, came in full force when the alcohol finally subsided.
Obviously, I needed a new set of wellness fixes in my toolbox that didn’t contain gin. Determined to take preventive care of myself for bad days in the future, I met with the New Zealand holistic health and wellness coach. Sara Acland to give me a few pointers on how to cope with stress easily and naturally.
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A busy mother of two, Acland began her journey when her hormones were destroyed by stress – so much so that her doctor said her hormone levels were consistent with those of a breast cancer patient. Knowing that she needed to make big changes, Acland took a holistic approach to healing herself that changed her life and fueled her career to help others thrive. First she studied anatomy and physiology to better understand the human body, then she became an ICF certified trainer Institute for Human Potential and recently completed the IIN Health Coaching course. She also trained as an Emotional Body Coach, where she learned how our emotions affect our bodies so that she can now gently guide clients through releasing emotions. Acland believes: “Intuition is an important part of this coaching – seeing between the words and finding out what is really going on with the client so that we can best support them on their path to health and fulfillment.” some.
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Read on to read Acland’s thoughts on how to turn your own bad day into a better one:
What have you found in your work, are some of the biggest stress triggers in life?
Ha, I could write a whole essay about it! Sometimes it’s unprocessed emotions, so our emotional cups are full before we even get up, and then it doesn’t take much to overflow and make us feel stressed. Or living a life that doesn’t match our values can be stressful.
For some, it’s more like perceived stress than indeed Stress – we cannot enjoy the moment we are in because we are constantly looking backwards or into the future and worrying about what we have done or what is coming.
For others, it may be a lack of organization – so much to do and no plan! Work pressure – working too much, piling too much on your plate, not enjoying your job – and you feel out of control. Of course, Covid and all the strangers and curveballs that were thrown at us.
How does a person recognize the source of their stress?
There is a lot of wisdom in our body – take a few mindful breaths and center yourself, then think about the individual possible sources of stress and notice how your body feels when you think about everyone. You will feel a physical response when there is stress – your heart rate will increase, you may feel flushed, knotted, etc. Listen to what your body is telling you. Stress is really the way we respond to external challenges, and usually the greater the challenge, the greater the stress response. Sometimes response is the perfect way for us to activate our abilities and do what we need to do. In theory, we rest and recover after the challenge is over, but either the challenge continues and we cannot relax and take the break we need and / or we have activated our fight or flight mode of the sympathetic nervous system and a lot of people are stuck in it. So the key is figuring out when the appropriate stress response becomes an unhelpful and sustained response.
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What do you recommend to reduce stress?
1. Exercise regularly.
Exercise reduces stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and increases feel-good endorphins. Different body types thrive in different types of exercise. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to exercise, but at least a 20-30-minute walk a day can make us feel so much better. It is best to do sports outdoors in nature.
Try telling a busy, stressed person to sit down and meditate for 20 minutes … it just won’t happen. So it is important to start slowly.
Breathing into your diaphragm, focusing on your breath for a few minutes is a good place to start, and gently bring your focus back to your breath when a thought distracts you.
Having a program to follow to begin with is a great way to learn and get used to it, such as This one here. So yes, meditation and mindfulness exercises can absolutely help us with stress. There are entire faculties at the university devoted to this very subject, and there is a lot of science behind the positive effects it has on stress relief and emotion regulation.
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3. Get your sleep.
It is so important! We can handle pressure much better when we have one restful sleep–it improves our brain function and balances hormones. Everyone is different and some people need more sleep than others, but usually between seven and eight hours give your body time to recover.
4. Let it out.
Screaming in the car when you’re alone can be cathartic, or if that can’t happen then scream into a pillow for a few weeks each day.
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5. Write it down.
Journaling is so good at getting the whirlwind of our stress and thoughts out of our heads on paper. It helps us organize our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Once it’s on paper we can understand it.
Ideally, about 20 minutes of free-flow writing a day – and trying not to control or think twice – is so beneficial.
Breathing slowly through your nose into your abdomen takes you back into the parasympathetic nervous system – rest and digestion instead of the sympathetic fight-or-flight mode. I personally love them Wim Hof method breathing to get myself back into parasympathetic mode after a stressful day.
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7. Consider nutritional supplements and a healthy diet.
A good B vitamin complex is great for helping out with stress as it helps in the production of neurotransmitters such as: GABA and Serotonin. magnesium supports good sleep and a good mood, Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that helps mediate the stress response. Curcumin is Anti-inflammatoryso that it helps fight the inflammation caused by stress.
I would recommend a high-fiber, vegetable-rich diet that is low in refined carbohydrates (sugar, white bReading, white pasta and rice, potatoes), as insulin production and blood sugar are negatively influenced by stress and these foods put a strain on the body.
I also recommend avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine, which increase cortisol and affect the quality of sleep.
8. Seek help.
When the stress leads to chronic anxiety, depression, and insomnia, or when you rely on substances to cope with your stress. When you’ve tried all of the things you can possibly think of but still can’t move the unhelpful thought loops that keep you in stress mode. Or, you just need someone to share your worries with and get some perspective on your stressful situation – it is best to get help sooner rather than later before it goes into a spiral.
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