It is said that Yogi and practitioner of meditation Prahlad Jani had such low levels of stress, that his heart only beat once every thirty seconds and he spent decades without the need for food or water because his metabolism was so finely tuned. Whether or not these facts are true is actually unknown, but it demonstrates that Yogi’s and other spiritual practitioners have amazing control over their bodies and minds because they have such little stress.
While most of us have to live in the real world, and actually enjoy the gulosity of the fast food and beer that we pour into our bodies, it’s also a fact that we would prefer to crank down our stress by a few notches. Despite lockdown giving the majority of us more hours in bed because we don’t have to get up for the daily commute, it has raised our overall stress rates, mostly because we are worrying about how it’s all going to end and will we still have a job at the end of it. Those are the kind of questions that we can’t answer, but we can help you get your heart rate down, and help you sleep in bed rather than just stare at the ceiling and fret.
Reducing stress is a bit of a long game, and not something that you’re are going to do overnight, but as Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher said, “every journey starts with a single step”, so strap on your walking boots and let’s do something about your surging blood pressure.
While most stress-reducing exercises are actually lifestyle changes, they can still start small and the progressive effect of them adds up to being something that actually has a positive impact on your life. Switching from your usual coffee decaf will significantly lower heart rate, breathing, jitteriness, and your potential for myocardial infarction. Switching to drinking mainly herbal teas and water, will halve the chances again. And that is something that is easy to do, so what other simple changes could you indulge in to raise your spirits and reduce your stress?
Get active. Going to the gym gives many people the horrors, but being active isn’t the same as channeling your inner Arnold Swarzenegger, and you can get active by just doing your normal daily lifestyle stuff a bit differently. Even your regular chores, like raking leaves, shoveling snow, or sweeping, burn calories. Rake-up small piles of leaves instead of large ones so you need to squat down to gather them more often, or alternately stand and squat to load the dishwasher or washing machine. Put some effort in and you’ll get something back out.
Step back from the alcohol. One beer or glass of wine might not hurt, but it’s very habit-forming and if you start doing it every night, then you have the start of a problem. Swap the alcohol for fruit juice, but make sure that it’s sugar free or all your teeth are going to end up dropping out of your head, and that’s not a good look.
Learn something new. Not necessarily a new language, take up a new hobby or interest and let it fill your life for a few weeks. Learn to cook a range of Spanish dishes, or even just learn to cook at all. Take up woodworking or art. And immerse your mind into something new and challenging, to help pull focus away from the everyday stresses of life.
Give back. Whether it’s time, money, or that range of check shirts that you own so many of, acts of kindness and giving to others can be enormously uplifting, and have a huge impact on your own mental health.
Be mindful. Concentrate on the now rather than some possible future that may not even occur anyway. Think about the positives you have and pat yourself on the back for all the good things around you.
Breathe. Learn to breathe properly. Sit in the garden, or go to the park or countryside and rest awhile somewhere quiet and square breathe. Breathe in for a count of three seconds, hold for three seconds, exhale for three seconds, and wait for three seconds before starting again. Do that a hundred times and you’ll find that all of your troubles have started to melt away.
If you can change just one small thing in your life, you will notice the effects, so make three or four of these changes and you’ll find that you’ve turned your life around and not only given yourself new purpose, but banished much of the negativity that you were needlessly holding onto causing stress to take hold.