What happens when we’re in a stress state? When we become stressed, we move into our sympathetic nervous system, or what is more commonly known as ‘fight or flight’. When we’re in this state it takes a conscious effort to bring us back into our parasympathetic nervous system, what is known as ‘rest and digest’.
We always want to be resting in our parasympathetic nervous system as this is when the body can easily carry out all the essential functions such as digestion, rest and healing on a cellular level.
Below, I’ve outlined some simple and effective tools to help relieve feelings of stress and anxiety that I use on a daily basis to keep myself calm. They are short, quick and easy to do, acting as a short-term solution for any stressful situation. I hope these help you as much as they help me.
1. Choose to let go
When we’re stressed it’s easy to feel powerless and out of control. What’s important to remember is that you always have a choice. Once you’ve identified the source of your stress you can either accept the situation, change the situation or leave the situation. By realising you have these options you can regain control and respond in the best way for you.
2. Bring the energy flow back
When we’re stressed, we tend to solve problems with the back of our brain which relies on memory. This isn’t what we want. To encourage forward-thinking problem solving, we need to bring the blood and energy back to our forebrain. To do this, gently hold the frontal eminences (two protruding bumps on the forehead) for a few minutes while thinking of the problem.
3. Move gently
Many people choose to release stress through intense physical activity but for some people this actually causes further exhaustion, leaving them far worse off. So instead of intense exercise, try gentle movement. This still facilitates stress relief while balancing the energy in the body at the same time. I think of it as energy curation. Yoga and walking are my favourite practices.
4. Listen to music
Multiple studies have shown music to be a guaranteed mood enhancer and incredibly effective stress management tool. You might feel too busy and stressed to see listening to music as productive but I encourage you to try. It doesn’t have to be classical, listen to anything - fast or slow, heavy or light. And if you want to dance, you’ll have an even greater tension release.
5. Take deep breaths
There’s no other tool that works faster to reduce stress than breathwork. Start by breathing in for 4 seconds and out for 4. Shut your eyes. Place one hand on your heart and one on your lower belly. As you breathe in, think ‘I am calm’ and as you breathe out think ‘all is well’. Do this for at least 5 minutes. You'll be back in your parasympathetic nervous system in no time at all.
6. Refuel yourself
When you’re busy rushing around in a state of stress it’s easy to forget to refuel. The body and mind work as mirrors, each reflecting the state of the other. So, if your body is stressed from dehydration, or lack of food, then this will be impacting your mental state. Fuel your body and you’ll fuel your mind too. Eat at regular meal times, snack if you need to, and hydrate throughout the day.
7. Go outside
It’s been proven in studies time and time again. One of the easiest ways to find relief from stress is to be in nature. Even if it’s just a 15 minute walk. If you don’t have access to a park or green space, just look at the sky, feel the fresh air on your skin and remind yourself how small you are in the grand scheme of life. Nature always gives us perspective.
8. Talk to someone
When we bottle up emotions they often find their way out of the body another way. I see this over and over with clients. Your symptoms are very often a manifestation of emotional stress and trauma. Talk to someone. Don’t push those feelings down, don’t bottle them up and don’t think you have to do it all yourself. Ask for help, it’s not a weakness, it’s a strength, and talk to someone.
9. Write it down
If talking isn’t your thing, write it down instead. This is another powerful way to release emotional stress and you’ll be surprised at how light you will feel afterwards. Don’t hold back, let all those feelings that you can’t express spill onto paper. Let the words flow out and, with them, the tension you’ve been holding onto. If you want you can then rip your words up and throw them away.
10. Find perspective
This is slightly harder to do because when we’re stressed every problem seems much worse than it really is. But it helps to shift perspective. My favourite way of doing this is asking myself “if I’m late will anyone die?” - this is my ‘perspective-shifter’ and I encourage you to find your own which you can employ at your time of need. It can be anything that puts your problems into perspective.
11. Stop & say no
This is about boundaries and saying no. When we’re in a state of stress we need to dial our lives down and go back to basics. Getting adequate sleep, eating and drinking regularly and taking time out each day to use the tools above. Slow down, avoid making extra commitments and acknowledge that right now you need to put your boundaries in place. Say no and slow right down.
A little bit about Antonia’s & Kinesiology
Antonia is a Systematic Kinesiology practitioner based in London and Cambridge. Systematic Kinesiology is a powerful complementary healthcare that uses muscle testing to tap into the biochemic feedback of your body, revealing any underlying imbalances in your system and getting to the root of your symptoms in a fast and efficient way.
Treatments involve checking for nutritional deficiencies, releasing trapped emotions and stresses, targeted lymphatic massage and energetic rebalancing using meridians and acupressure points.
With a root cause approach to dis-ease, Antonia works with the physical, emotional and energetic body to uncover imbalances and help you connect to your innate healing power, finding great joy in helping you rediscover a healthy and trusting relationship between you and body.