If you are stressed out, you are not alone. Studies show that more than 75% of people feel anxious, depressed, stressed or overwhelmed on a daily basis.
Stressful situations happen all the time. For most, these situations are unavoidable, like losing a loved one, getting in a car accident or preparing for a job interview. Stress is a part of life.
From the moment we wake up until we go to bed, our minds are racing with stressful thoughts, worries and concerns. “What if this happens? What if that happens? What will I do?”
But it is not the situations that happen in our lives that cause us stress, it is how we mentally and emotionally respond. While some stress in our lives can be valuable—the fight or flight response is ideal if we need to outrun a bear or swerve last minute to avoid an accident—excessive, chronic and pro- longed stress can be extremely detrimental to our health and quality of life.
EXERCISE AND A NEW MINDSET
The good news is you don’t have to live this way. Regular exercise, mindfulness and focused breathing techniques can help. According to recent studies, research shows how these three things, plus exercise, can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, obsessive thinking and slow the aging process.
Virtually any form of exercise you enjoy, from weightlifting to yoga, can act as a powerful stress reliever. Moving your body and repeating positive thoughts for 30 minutes a day can go a long way towards managing your stress.
When we exercise, the brain produces wonderful neurotransmitters called endorphins. These happy chemical messengers not only function as natural pain-relievers within the body, but also act as natural mood boosters.
Regular exercise relaxes the body, increases self-confidence and lowers symptoms associated with stress, depression and anxiety. Exercise boosts the immune system and can improve the quality of sleep which is often disrupted by stressful thoughts and negative thinking.
The more we move our bodies and pay attention to our thoughts, the more empowered we will feel in our abilities to manage whatever life throws our way.
In addition to regularly exercising the body, we need to exercise and manage our minds. How we think determines what messages our brain sends to our body. If we think fear-based thoughts on a regular basis we are going to feel fear and stress. If we think happy, op- timistic and positive thoughts, we will feel uplifted, calm and peaceful.
Several times a day repeat these following stress-melting thoughts. Write them on a piece of paper and put it in your purse or wallet. Repeat silently to yourself or aloud when you start feeling stressed.
“I have all the time I need.”
A great deal of stress is triggered by the belief and feeling that time is limited. But time is a mental construct. Release the pressure from yourself by declaring you always have the time you need to achieve what you want to accomplish.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
Much of what happens to us in life is outside our control. Learn to let go of what you can’t change by repeating this empowering thought.
“I am safe. All is well.”
When situations beyond our control occur, the common response is to feel fear. When we are afraid, the brain releases hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, as part of the fight or flight response. If there is a prolonged release of these hormones, it can cause all sorts of health problems from heart disease to adrenal fatigue. Repeat this thought to inhibit the unnecessary release of these hormones.
“I am loved.”
By telling yourself you are loved, the feeling of fear can dissipate. The key is to really believe what you are saying. It is not good enough to just say the words. You must allow yourself to deeply feel the energy that emits from these words.
“I am calm and peaceful.”
The great thing about our thoughts is we get to choose what we want to think and our body responds accordingly. This means that even though you may be feeling anything but calm and peaceful, repeatedly telling yourself you are will eventually cause the body to act in alignment with what you are telling it. You may have to “fake it until you make it” initially, but eventually your feelings will match what you say. So say goodbye to stress and hello to feelings of peace and wellbeing.
More Inspiration: Check out this great article on how to age with resilience.
Author: Michelle Armstrong is the owner of michellearmstrongfitness.com, which specializes in women’s health, fitness and overall wellbeing. She is a bestselling author, mindset expert, board certified holistic health practitioner and certified personal trainer and yoga instructor. Michelle is also a gifted soul coach and spiritual medium. Her latest book TRANSFORM is available online and in all major bookstores. She is a contributor to our Optimyz magazine as well.