Ahhhhh, another delightful TV ad for prescription drugs.
You’ve seen them. Everyone is happy enjoying their lives, beautiful scenery, nice music and in a very soft pleasing voice the side effects are rattled off as if they are an afterthought. Where the side effects are far worse than the benefits. Things like death, kidney failure, serious liver injury, anal leakage (we couldn’t unhear that one), suicide, heart attack etc. You get the point, right? Just ask your Dr…
Well, it turns out that the side effects of stress can be pretty unpleasant as well. Now imagine hearing these like you’re listening to a prescription drug ad, with a calm soothing voice while you’re walking through a flower field…
…and the side effects of stress include:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure leading to hypertension, heart attack and stroke
- Changes to your endocrine system that regulates mood, metabolism and reproduction resulting in blood sugar problems, diabetes, changes in hormones and menstrual problems
- Changes to your digestive system resulting in heart burn, acid reflux, poor eating habits, stomach pain and bloating
- Negative effects with your emotions resulting in increased fatigue, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, lack of concentration and depression
- Increased muscle tension leading to more pain, loss of function and decreased mobility
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- And last but not least, reducing the ability for the immune system to fight and recover from illness
...just ask your Dr…
Well, if you do ask, you will more than likely be prescribed prescription drugs that may in turn take you right back to all the wonderfully horrific side effects that can outweigh the benefits. Yikes! What are we supposed to do?
First, here are some of the ways we’ve all heard of to reduce stress:
- Breathe, take slow deep breaths
- Exercise regularly, do yoga, move your body
- Improve your sleep
- Have fun, do what you love, do a hobby, get together with friends on zoom or facetime
- Get a pet
- Reduce caffeine, stimulants and alcohol
- Clean up your diet, eat what works best for you
- Take supplements
- Reduce your stress triggers
All of these can be vitally important. But what if you still can’t sleep or you’ve tried meditation and it’s just not your thing. What then?
Well, here are some lesser-known ways that we have discovered significantly help to reduce the negative impacts of stress on your life. After all, the only time stress really goes away is when we depart this earth. It’s all around us, all the time.
Start your day with Intention - Take a few minutes first thing in the morning to set the intention for the day with positive intention and gratitude. This is very powerful, especially if you take a moment to notice your gratitude for yourself, for what you have, and for others. You set up your day instead of your day setting you up. Your brain is geared to give you what you want, so use this time to tell it. This part is very personal, some use prayer, some set intention, and others use this time for spiritual mantra or verses. Try it for a month and then look back and notice the difference.
Just say No ... or Yes - Learn to set limits for yourself. It is virtually impossible to meet everyone’s demands, needs and expectations. If you constantly find yourself overscheduled, it's maybe time to re-evaluate what’s most important to you.
Touch it Once – This concept is well known in corporate life for increasing efficiency and reducing stress. Millennials seem to more naturally do this anyway as a part of their nature and familiarity with technology. The effect of putting things off until they are due or near the deadline, adding it to your to-do list that just keeps getting longer, or saving it for later adds a tremendous stress in your system. If you simply touch things once, meaning pay a bill when you get it or put it on autopay instead of putting in a stack to do later, answer that email or text, fix the screen door that the cat keeps getting out of, call your Mom back and so on, you find that within a short period of time your stress level has greatly reduced as you are no longer putting things off and having to remember to do them. It will feel as if a weight has lifted off your shoulders, and your mind will stop subconsciously and consciously continuing to remind you with running thoughts and creating more and more stress.
Do first what you least like to do first - This sounds crazy, but it has also been noted that the most successful people do the things that they least like to do first, then do the rest which they enjoy or are comfortable with. The project goes faster, is easier and more fun, and you’ll feel happier and fulfilled rather than stressed about finishing the part they didn't want to do.
Pause – 24-hour Rule - Before responding to that incendiary email, awful Facebook post, or the ever popular at-home disagreement with our loved ones these days. Just pause before responding. Give yourself time to get clear and decompress. Maybe you were stressed about something else unrelated and were caught in a bad moment? Maybe your colleague or loved one was? In our social media instant driven society this becomes even more important. We have come to expect instant gratification in this techy world of ours.
When it’s important - Pause. Reflect. Find your heart. Get clearer. Respond.
Let go of whatever you’re hanging onto - There is a Buddhist saying that “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The effect on you is ultimately greater than the effect on the other person. Find resolve within yourself first instead of with someone else, then letting go becomes natural.
Forgiveness - Gives you your life back and increases your energy and vitality. It does not excuse anyone or make them less accountable for their deeds and actions. And at times, we can greatly benefit by forgiving ourselves, self-reflecting on where we feel we messed up and do better in future. We are all evolving, and beating yourself up benefits no one, especially not you. Forgiveness simply frees you, your nervous system, and your energy up. The more you practice this, even in little bits each day, the more freedom you experience and the less deep chronic stress you will have. And the extra energy you’ll have will now be available for creativity, fun and success. Remember, forgiveness is ultimately for you.
Clear your energy - At the end of the day, you can take a warm bath with l lb. sea salt or Epsom salt and 1 lb. baking soda. You can also add any essential oils or bubble bath you like. Soaking in warm (not too hot) water for 20 minutes clears stress and emotions from your day. Even better, it helps with muscle tension and detoxification. No bath available? Make a scrub with the above ingredients or purchase and scrub in the shower. Doing this before bed is best as you’ll be surprised how much it can drain out of your system.
Clear the energy in your home or office - Have you ever walked into a room right after someone just had an argument or received bad news and you can feel the tension or heaviness in the room? You can clear it out by burning a sage stick, using energy clearing sprays or burning a small amount of epsom salt and high proof alcohol in a Corningware (not metal) small fry pan with a handle (the pan gets very hot). Make sure to get corners and under desks as spent emotional energy tends to gather there. We also do this routinely in our offices and home, keeping us calmer and clearer as we can unconsciously be stressed and react to bad energy hanging around.
Acupuncture - Has been used for thousands of years as a highly effective way to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain and rejuvenate your entire body, mind and emotions. Some people are hesitant because of the needles and their past experiences with shots. Acupuncture needles are extremely thin like a horsehair and generally are inserted quite superficially and painlessly.
Reset your nervous system - The easiest way to help do a reset for your nervous system is to put a drop of any Blue Buddha Therapeutics© product on the concha of each ear a few times a day. And especially at night to help with sleep. The vagus nerve reflex is on the concha, just outside of the ear canal on the cartilage of the ear. Refer to our easy to use Calm+ Application Guide for diagrams for stress release. This is extremely helpful to regulate the sympathetic nervous system, most of us know this from the “fight or flight” response we get when stressed.
We personally use all of these and can say that they can easily become a part of daily life and your routine. And we have found our stress levels have decreased greatly over time unless we get too busy and start to forget some of these. And then there’s nothing like an unpleasant reminder to trigger the memory back into self-care and being more conscious about our health and well-being!
Gordon and Victoria Merkle