Did you know that research has found that stress is a significant contributor to disease?1,2,3 Complex things occur in our body so it can handle stress. When stress helps us react to an emergency, such as getting out of a burning house, that is a healthy thing. When stress affects us continually, however, it can lead to brain changes that decrease concentration, make it difficult to solve problems and memory. Long-term stress or repeated exposure to stress can lead to a host of other health problems including heart disease, problems with your digestive system, and many more.
Some days it seems hard to dodge stress. We turn on the t.v. and find images of horrifying bombings. We engage in social media and our feed suddenly fills with BREAKING NEWS of a mass shooting. We can’t even go to the grocery store without seeing catastrophic effects of climate change screaming for our attention from the front page of newspapers and magazines. Add a dash of family drama, demands from work, and whatever else may affect you personally, and we can find ourselves twisted into a stress knot-sometimes not even realizing it.
So how can we grab this stress monster by the horns and regain our calm selves to protect our health? We need to find our zen boosters-those things that bring us to a calm state, release our tension. Once we identify them, we need to use them to prevent, avoid, disperse and relieve stress.
Want an example? The other day I was having a great day when all of a sudden, forgive the language, a Sh%* storm stirred up. There was no avoiding it, it thrust itself into my day and before I knew it my neck was tight, my mind was buzzing and I wanted to dive into the refrigerator looking for comfort food. Instead, I packed some healthy treats, a book, my journal and headed to the beach-my favorite go to place to regain my zen. Being in or near water has been scientifically proven to induce relaxation-a term Dr. Wallace Nichols calls Bluemind.
After I unfolded my beach chair, put up the umbrella and inhaled the briny sea air, I could feel the tension start to drain out as if I pulled the plug from the bathtub full of water. Although I had the urge to dip into my beach bag and pull out my arsenal of beach goodies, I resisted. Instead I went for a walk and let the cold, deep-blue water wash over my feet. The sound of waves lapping, seagulls cawing, and kids yelping with delight replaced the “Can yous” , “I needs “ , “Will yous?”. A sailboat with three huge vanilla sails hoisted crawled along the horizon. It captured my attention for several minutes until an aha sprung into my brain- I wish I could be out there, out of reach, immersed in raw mother natures arms. More tension oozed out just thinking of what it would be like out there, only the sound of wind blowing by my ears and the boat gently rocking in the waves.
Will finding our zen state make problems, crises, requests for our energy go away? No, but it does allow us to be the calm in the storm. Sometimes it allows us to be the voice of reason or problem solve better because we can see the solution to a problem more clearly. Most importantly it keeps our bodies from being hijacked and wreaking havoc on our health.
So what is in your zen toolbox? Essential lavender oil, a meditation tape saved on your phone, escaping to the bathroom to take 10 slow deep breathes? Maybe you benefit from a walk in the park, planting some flowers, taking a yoga class or just lying on the grass and watching the clouds saunter by. When we build our awareness of what helps us feel calm we can better plan to incorporate these into tools into our day to prevent stress and pull them out of our back pocket when stress builds. Perhaps then, we will find ourselves happier and healthier.
Feel free to share what is in your zen toolbox below. Your ideas may help someone.
#Health #Stress #Holistic #Nature