At two years old my son expressed to his grandma, while questioning what he wanted for lunch, “Grandma, you’re stressing me out.”
She thought it was hilarious, especially with him using it in the correct context. I laughed when she told me until the realization, “Eek. I must say that a lot…”
It can be wild how we throw around the word stress. There is a healthy stress but then there is unhealthy stress… and in relation to depression, we need to discuss unhealthy stress and how to fight it…. excuse me, beat it. Beat it down Muhammad Ali style ( <- previous blog post inspiration )
In an easy outlook it’s like this: Unhealthy, long-term stress decreases serotonin levels causing depression to occur and/or intensify. Okay, so let’s be clear, this is my non-PhD outlook with the information I’ve collected over the years with my personal experiences along with other WebMD information. In a more complicated outlook…. scientific research is still being done in order to understand other minimizing compounds in the brain, such as p11, to make stronger medications for those who suffer from stress induced depression.
I can tell you this, when I was on medication and in long term stressful situations I knew to go to my doctor and up the mg in my prescription. When long-term stress situations were minimized I requested to reduce the mg of medication. Since, Brain Boosting Lifestyle Change, it is important that my serotonin levels are at a healthy level to beat depression while in high, long term stressful situations. If I can’t keep them that way I will need to contact my doctor for assistance (and that’s okay).
It’s also okay for you to be on and stay on medication while working on reducing your stress and living a healthy lifestyle through Boosting Your Brain with B.B.L.C. (Brain Boosting Lifestyle Change) Reminder, this is about becoming a happier and healthier you emotionally, mentally and physically.
Bad stress, or long term stress can be caused by the following and yet not limited to: losing job, death, divorce, domestic abuse, taking care of elderly parents, new baby, natural disasters and the list can go on… chalking a notch for Covid on the wall too.
Taking care of stress is taking care of yourself. I can not stress this enough (pun intended)- you can not function and take care of anything else in your life without first taking care of YOU. So, I’m going to repeat: Taking care of stress is taking care of you.
Repeat the words, really, say them out-loud: Taking care of stress is taking care of me. Say it until it sticks in your squishy subconscious mind.
Now, ten ways, all the methods I have used or use, to beat stress down… Muhammad Ali style.
1. Activity Everday: Yes! Beating stress AND depression requires daily activity.
It is crazy how suddenly your body can feel so heavy and sluggish when you are fighting stress. Sometimes just to get out of bed you have to convince your own brain DO IT; But once you get moving and get the blood flowing your mind and body can usually take over.
Give yourself reasons to be active and hold yourself accountable. At least 30 minutes a day. If that commitment feels impossible, start with 10 and work your way up.
Some easy daily activity range from walking, hiking, cleaning the house, boxing, football, Pilates, Zumba, etc. You can seek out a gym, professional coach, or your own self.
Do what you know works best for you and get it done.
You’ve got this!
2. Wash Your Stress Away: According to Dr Bobby Buka in Healthline, a detailed article to why baths actually help stress, he relays, “Your skin releases endorphins in response to the soothing warm water the same way that endorphins are released when you feel the sun on your skin.”
Remember, endorphins give us that happy feeling which are boosting brain chemicals. If you’d like, throw Epsom salts in your hot bath , treat yourself with some candles, a tall glass of water (important to drink lots of water after a hot bath) and a book, music or watch a favorite TV show.
Be aware, this stress free ritual can leave you sleepy. Take caution when getting out of the bath, as you may feel lightheaded or dizzy from the detoxing.
Moms, if you can’t step into a quiet room without kids banging on the door voice to a spouse, family member or friend that you need a break, no shame, ask for help and then go for a drive, pull up to a park somewhere, shut off the car and just breathe.
Concentrate on your breathing.
You can light a candle (but not in the car), close your eyes, or focus on something in the room and just try to zone out. Set an alarm on your phone so you aren’t tempted to check on time (start with a minute and work your way up) and then… just let go... play relaxation music if you’d like… just concentrate on your breathing.
Inhale new positive energy and exhale the stress. As Elsa says: Let. It. Go. Then, visualize the stress leaving your body, let it go and leave it behind.
4. Read or Listen to Inspirational Books and/or Podcast: Finding inspirational words written by encouraging people are great ways to keep your spirits up and bust stress.
This is extended to religion. If you are a faith warrior then prayer and listening to inspirational speakers or reading books of your faith are also stress busters.
Continuing self-growth fills you with positivity, optimism, and new ways to heal the soul. These good feelings help melt away stress. Here is the link for some of the top books and top podcast of 2020. (Stay tuned and subscribe, I’m sure one day I will blog about my favorites – or send me a message and I’ll share some of my favs with you personally)
5. Hangout with Family and Friends: Our beloveds are there for us as buffers to vent about the emotions we are dealing with while helping to relieve pent up stress.
I found an in-depth article on the relations between social interactions and how it keeps us mentally healthy written by Bob Avenson in Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. I highly recommend diving further and checking it out after reading this blog. When you’re finished, make some phone calls and add some family and friends activities to your calendar.
6. Plan A Date…With Yourself: Self-Care is so important to ward off bad stress. When I say plan a date with yourself… I’m talking the whole shabang: flowers, chocolates and wine for the pre-party and then plan a massage, movie, dinner, kayaking, skydiving… whatever you love to do or always wanted to try but haven’t. Live it up and impress yourself just the way you would on a first date with someone else.
Caring for yourself is another way to release positive endorphins in your body. Live, yourself date, up by giving number uno’s heart, soul and body self-care.
6. Escape Stress: One way to beat stress is to go on a mini vacation and it doesn’t have to be anything expensive or fancy. A camping get away in the woods for a weekend would suffice just as much as a getaway to a tropical island.
This is to reset yourself and get back in tune with your mind, body and soul. You can choose to do this alone, with a friend or family, as long as it stays stress free. You’ll recharge after stress induced, unwanted life changes and finally be able to focus on yourself again.
7. Redecorate: The fact is your surroundings matter and if you’ve been overly stressed it’s most likely things in your environment have become unorganized and a bit disarray.
Organizing, painting, buying new furniture (or moving around what you already have), purchasing new decorations or updating pictures around the house… whatever it may be, helps lifts your spirits and boost your mood. It feels good to be productive and enjoy a clean, organized, updated area to help reduce stress and give you a fresh outlook at home (and life).
8. Writing and Journaling: Sometimes the best outlet for stress can be on paper… or these days, computer, notes on your phone or Ipad… whichever outlet you choose, their is no doubt that writing can be stress relieving outlet.
If you read my blog, Five Steps to Recovery After Losing A Loved One, I explain you can write letters to love ones that passed away or memories you have to keep them alive for generations. Journaling these happy and positive memories reduces chronic stress you can feel from loss.
In addition you can write down problems and dilemmas you are feeling along with worries and fears. Writing these things down not only is a release of your feelings but can help your process what’s going on in your life and find new solutions.
If you aren’t comfortable having these feelings laying around, burn them as a symbolism in letting go of those worries and fears.
The purpose is to rid negative thoughts and feelings and leave the stress with the writing when you walk away.
9. Hire A Professional: Hiring a professional can keep you on track to beating stress rather it be through a therapist or coach. Here is the difference:
A therapist is a license professional that has a doctoral degree to listen and help you navigate through personal problems and situations to find positive solutions.
A coach is a person that specializes in an area health, fitness, life, business etc. that assist in finding goals you want to achieve while holding you accountable to make them happen.
Either of these options, or both because they serve very different purposes, are valuable to keeping you healthy mentally and/or physically and give you positive ways to deal with stress.
When searching to find an expert in what you are dealing with don’t commit until you meet them in person to make sure you two are a good fit.
10. Visualize Good Things to Come: Have you ever heard of a dream board?
Chronic stress is usually dealt when serious life changes occur out of our control. Understanding how to deal with these changes and work through the thick fog can feel endless and impossible.
A dream board is to create a positive visualizing of things you want for your future. The purpose is to feed positive mental images in the brain and to set the brain on a subconscious level to work the conscious mind to achieving these dreams (aka:goals).
How to start? You can cut from magazines, print images from the computer and glue them to poster board or paper. Another option is to use Pinterest, setting up a private board for your benefit.
Get as detailed as you want, picking out and decorating your ideal home or be as vague by mentioning a desired vacation location. Whatever your goals may be, keep the images somewhere you can see them whenever you need the inspiration. Know there is more to look forward to and it will happen. There is no timeline on dreams as long as you can see them, they can happen.
These ten ideas to maintain stress is only the surface of a very large bucket. I encourage you to search for more ideas such as coloring, games, finding ways to make you laugh… there are more blogs and ideas in your friendly Google search.
I know chronic stress can feel like it’s vacuuming your oxygen and trying to snuff the last of your flame; But you are more than a flame, you are fire and as long as you feed your soul, love yourself and love others…your fire will light the sky.
Keep this blog on hand (along with others you find), for the B.B.L.C. (Brain Boosting Lifestyle Change) calendar that will be released next week. You will need these helpful stress relieving tips to assist in regulating brain chemicals (to beat depression naturally).
Subscribe below so you don’t miss out!
Cheers, friends, to being a little less stress free when and where we can!