Emotional fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder are preventing people from living their lives, creating barriers to inner peace and hindering sufferers’ ability to move forward, according to Natalie Hore, accredited life coach and founder of UAE-based Breathes Wellness, who is using her own experience in moving on from personal trauma to help others. She tells us about 13 scientifically proven ways to reduce stress, promote emotional well-being and enhance resilience in today’s fast-paced world.
Proven in 1975 by Harvard Medical School Professor Herbert Benson to change our physiology from that of a stress response (sympathetic nervous system) to a relaxed response (para sympathetic nervous system), who went on to write the book, The Relaxation Response.
Meditation has the remarkable ability to shift our response from stress to relaxation by influencing the brain and body on multiple levels. Firstly, meditation helps calm the mind and quiet racing thoughts, allowing us to detach from stressors and enter a state of present-moment awareness. This shift in attention redirects our focus away from stress-inducing thoughts and cultivates a sense of inner calm.
Secondly, meditation stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation. By activating this system, meditation promotes the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are associated with feelings of well-being and happiness.
Moreover, meditation reduces the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which are responsible for the fight-or-flight response. As these stress hormones decrease, our heart rate and blood pressure stabilize, leading to a state of physical and mental relaxation.
Additionally, meditation increases the activity of the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for executive functions such as decision-making and emotional regulation. This enhanced activity allows us to respond to stressors with more clarity, resilience, and adaptability, rather than reacting impulsively or being overwhelmed.
Also a part of Professor Benson’s studies, mindfulness involves intentionally paying attention to the present moment without judgment. By focusing on the here and now, we become less entangled in worries about the past or future, which are common sources of stress. This shift in attention helps break the cycle of rumination and anxiety.
Mindfulness encourages an attitude of acceptance and non-judgment toward our thoughts, emotions, and experiences, while enhancing our ability to regulate and manage our emotions, including stress-related emotions such as anxiety and frustration. By training our minds to be present and aware, we become better equipped to handle challenging situations and bounce back from adversity.
Journaling is a valuable tool for stress reduction, providing a safe and private space to express emotions, identify stress triggers, and gain clarity. By writing down thoughts and feelings, journaling promotes self-reflection and emotional release, leading to reduced stress and increased self-awareness.
Muscle Relaxation Exercises:
Muscle relaxation exercises are a proven technique to alleviate stress by systematically releasing tension from the body. Through deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, these exercises promote physical and mental relaxation, reducing stress levels and enhancing overall well-being.
Any movement, such as exercise or physical activity, is a powerful tool for stress reduction, as it releases endorphins, improves mood, and reduces muscle tension. Engaging in regular movement not only provides a healthy outlet for stress but also promotes overall physical and mental well-being.
Laughter has a remarkable ability to relieve stress by triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. It helps reduce stress hormones, promotes relaxation, and boosts the immune system. Incorporating laughter into daily life through humor, social interactions, or even laughter yoga can provide an effective and enjoyable way to manage stress and improve overall well-being.
Prioritizing activities like taking breaks, practicing relaxation techniques, engaging in hobbies, getting quality sleep, and maintaining healthy boundaries can replenish your energy, reduce stress levels, and foster a sense of balance and self-nurturing in your life. Investing time in self-care is an investment in your long-term resilience and overall stress management.
Sunshine positively impacts mood and overall well-being. Like how we say, it has been a gloomy day! Hope the sun comes out! Exposure to natural sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with happiness and relaxation. Additionally, sunlight helps regulate circadian rhythms, promoting better sleep patterns, which in turn contribute to lower stress levels. Spending time outdoors and soaking up the sun’s rays can be a simple yet effective way to boost your mood and reduce stress. However, it is important to practice sun safety and avoid prolonged exposure during peak hours to prevent sunburn or other negative effects.
Engaging in fun or meaningful social interactions, whether it’s spending time with loved ones, participating in group activities, or meeting friends, can help reduce stress by providing emotional outlets, promoting laughter, and offering a sense of belonging. Sharing experiences and feelings with others can provide perspective, validation, and a support system that can alleviate stress and improve overall well-being.
Practicing gratitude is a powerful stress relief technique that involves intentionally focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life. By cultivating a gratitude practice, such as keeping a gratitude journal or jar or expressing gratitude daily, we shift our attention away from stressors and onto the things we are thankful for. This mindset shift promotes a sense of positivity, reduces anxiety, and enhances overall well-being, as we become more attuned to the abundance and blessings in our lives.
Life is never a constant and change is inevitable and an opportunity for growth and learning. By embracing change, adjusting our expectations, and adopting flexible strategies, we can reduce resistance, embrace new possibilities, and ultimately experience reduced stress levels. This can lead to personal development, increased resilience, and a greater sense of control over our lives, all of which contribute to and overall well-being.
Good quality sleep is essential as it allows the body and mind to rest, recharge, and recover. Sufficient sleep promotes a healthy balance of hormones and neurotransmitters, such as cortisol and serotonin, which play a crucial role in regulating stress levels. By prioritizing and maintaining a consistent sleep routine, practicing good sleep hygiene, and ensuring a comfortable sleep environment, we can improve our sleep quality, reduce stress, and enhance our overall ability to cope with daily challenges.