Studies show that stress is a factor in 96% of all sickness and disease and even seen in physical problems such as muscle strains. Many people get used to being stressed and when things aren’t stressful they feel uncomfortable. People don’t want life to slow down.
Unfortunately, if you live a high stress life the stress will cause all kinds of serious problems. Relaxation is something that must be done for good health. If you tell people “Your problem is caused by stress.”, they say “I know, but I tried that meditation thing and it was hard and it didn’t work.” It is hard. Especially the more stressed you are, and it doesn’t fix everything the first time you attempt it.
So why bother meditating? Why bother eating a healthy diet? Why lift weights? Why form any habits? Obviously these habits work over time. Meditation has been around for thousands of years. Nobody is reinventing the wheel here. It works. Other cultures have known the benefits of meditation for thousands of years but in our culture we need scientific proof. Scientists can now measure the positive effects of meditation on the brain with a MRI. They can measure the benefits on biomarkers like DNA telomeres which depict your biological age. Incidentally, meditation is the only intervention scientists have discovered that can actually make you younger.
One last point I want to make is people that overachieve say that they are able to over achieve due to all the meditation they do.
Many people don’t know what to do to reduce stress; so here is my stress challenge. I have a list of things that evoke the relaxation response; things that stimulate the rest and digest mode. I give you a 21-day challenge to implement as many of these things as possible and see how much better your stress gets.
- Meditate – get into as comfortable position as possible. Close your eyes and focus on belly breathing. Feel your belly rise and fall and not your chest. Feel the relaxation that comes with that and then focus on the area between your eyes called the third eye and every time you breathe out tell yourself to relax and feel the relaxation between your eyes. Of course you will get distracted so you may have to come back to focusing on your belly breathing again. Do this 3-5 times a day for 5-10 minutes and for 15 minutes at night before bed.
- Get 8 hours of sleep a night. Some ways to improve sleep are to go to bed at the same time every day. Meditate before bed. If you suspect sleep apnea, then get tested. Use your bed for sleep and romance only; your bed needs to be your haven. Get 30 minutes of sunshine a day at minimum preferably in the morning. Try to avoid the computer or TV screen for a couple hours before bed. A bit of yoga before bed can help. Yoga is a form of meditation.
- Proper diet with Supplements – Omega 3’s, vitamin C, and herbal de-stressors like Rhodiola and Ginseng or Siberian Ginseng. I also recommend Dr. Mark Hyman’s 10 Day Detox Diet to learn proper healthy eating habits.
- Take a day off. Schedule nothing once a week. This isn’t a day to catch up on things or to run errands. Get someone to look after the kids and stare at your toes, read a book and just relax.
- Love and Intimacy.
- Exercise - Increase your heart rate as high as you can in 4 minutes a day. That’s all you need is 4 minutes of pushing yourself as hard as you can. That would be a full on sprint for 4 minutes straight or similar activity. Of course a sport is fantastic.
- Yoga – it puts your body under stress then teaches you how to focus on your breathing and relax in a stressful situation. Concentrate on your breathing and relaxation is the most important part.
- Have a positive mindset. Give thanks every day. I do this before bed. Write down 3 things that were positives that day and write down one story.
- Find your spiritual side. Maybe it's with random acts of kindness or volunteer work. Maybe it's praying or the wilderness. Save the environment.
- Laughter is the best medicine. Watch this Ted Talk. Shawn Achor talks about stress relief and he’s really funny. Do the 5 things he asks for the next 21 days.
That’s my list. Do as much of this as you can in the next 21 days and see if your stress improves. Got any more to add that work for you? Please comment below. And keep track of everything you do from this challenge in the next 21 days and let me know how it works for you. What’s your stress out of 10 before and after?
Habits can be created and broken. Heres another great video showing why we have the habits we have; like eating habits or smoking. It talks a bit about meditation but mostly how to break bad habits.
As a personal trainer the hardest part of my job is trying to get people to see the benefits of these proven strategies before implementing them. You have to try them to see the benefits but they are scientifically proven methods that do work. I encourage you to check out my article on stress relief to see the research behind some of these methods.
I hope you liked the article. If you did, share it with friends. These are the types of issues I deal with daily with my clients in order to accomplish their fitness goals. I believe in a coach like approach and I help guide my clients to do the things they deem relevant for them and they are seeing really great results. For me the reward is the happiness it creates and seeing the new found confidence in people. WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO PERSONALLY SHOW YOU HOW YOU CAN ACHIEVE YOUR FITNESS GOALS ...FOR FREE?
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