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Bust Stress with Four Simple Tips

Bust Stress with Four Simple Tips

We are surrounded by stressful circumstances, stressed people and stressful environments.  Sometimes we cannot change what is happening to us, but we can change the attitude with which we respond.  We can also help our bodies respond to stress in a more gentle and effective way.  You have probably heard about the fight-or-flight and the rest-and-digest responses.  The fight-or-flight response is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, which is also activated when we are stressed.  On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system induces the rest-and-digest response and helps us to relax and focus.

Here are some techniques to try when you feel frazzled:

#1 Grounding

During this exercise, you are bringing attention to your body and directing it to your feet.  Our feet are like roots of a tree that help us ground both physically and energetically.  To begin the exercise, first sit comfortably with both feet planted on the ground.  Now, bring your attention to the feet, feel them sinking heavily into the floor.  You can take off your shoes or leave them on.  Really feel the soles of your shoes with balls of your feet.

#2 Diaphragmatic breathing

Place one hand on your chest and another hand on your stomach and take three slow breaths in and out.  As you take a breath in, notice which hand moves further away from your body.  Most likely, the hand on your chest will move further.  That is because you are primarily using your neck and other muscles to breathe.  Chest breathing is shallow and does not oxygenate the body well.  It is also regulated by the sympathetic nervous system, which is the anxiety and stress inducing state.  Now, focus on breathing more with your belly by feeling the breath coming in through your nose, past the back of your throat, into your chest, down to your stomach and expanding your belly.  On the breath out, the air comes out of your stomach, back into your chest, to the back of the throat and exhale.   Belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the parasympathetic response which calms us down.  At first, this new way of breathing will be uncomfortable, but with practice you will be breathing with your diaphragm without effort.  Check out the video below to see this in action!

#3 Journaling

Journaling is not only an ancient tradition to keep track of life events, but a powerful tool to refocus, clear thoughts and feelings and reduce stress.  Writing your emotions down will bring awareness to them and reduce the likelihood of acting out in anger or frustration.  Journaling will also help to organize the jumble of thoughts, which are often the culprit of stress and anxiety.  You don’t need an actual journal, a clean piece of paper will do.  Simply write down all the bothersome thoughts that are circulating in your mind and get them out on paper.  Don’t mind the grammar or spelling, this is only for your eyes to see.  You will feel like your emotional mind will switch to rational mind and begin to create solution strategies.

#4 Take a Walk

Feeling overwhelmed and stuck? Go for a brisk walk to get your endorphins and creative juices flowing!  Endorphins are feel-good neurotransmitters that trigger positive feelings in the body similar to morphine.  They are produced in the brain and help to reduce the perception of pain, ward off anxiety and depression.

In Health,
Anna

References:

  1. Stress Management: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
  2. The Health Benefits of Journaling: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/