Chronic stress seems to be our national disease—especially today. Millions suffer from symptoms of stress: nervous tension, restless sleep, difficulty focusing and remembering, irritability, and health complications. Generally speaking, stress speeds up aging. Learn the ways to manage stress, and you will look and feel younger.
1. Start your day with meditation
Spend time every day in meditative relaxation, with calming music if you desire. Start with five minutes and work your way to fifteen or twenty minutes each day. Meditation is your number one way to reduce the output of stress hormones and avoid adrenal exhaustion, serious threats to your health.
Try this Stress Release Meditation: Breathe consciously, relax, and with each exhale focus on relaxing each area of your body in sequence, starting from the top of your head and moving all the way down to your toes.
For a guided meditation, look for our cd for stress release.
2. Manage your mood with diet and herbs
Chinese Medicine considers the liver to be the center of your emotions. To allay stress and balance your emotions, keep your liver healthy and happy:
• Every day, eat lots of green leafy vegetables, barley grass, seaweed—anything high in chlorophyll—to keep the liver in good health.
• Take 500 mg dandelion daily for a month or longer to cleanse the liver and help release built-up anger.
• Take 400 mg white peony root daily for 1 to 3 months to soothe the liver and balance your mood.
• Schisandra berry protects the liver from chemicals and calms the spirit. For emotional anxiety, take 200 mg daily for a month.
Take these herbs anytime during the day and before bed in tea or capsule form. All the herbs are available from health food stores and Eastern medicine practitioners. Many of my patients have had remarkable results with Calm-Fort Elixir, an all-natural formulation of herbs to calm your spirit. For more information, click here.
3. Suppress stress with positive thinking
Instead of letting your thoughts run wild with anxiety, say affirmations to yourself, such as “I can handle the tasks I have ahead of me. I enjoy my responsibilities and fulfill them well.” In fact, repeating positive affirmations can actually suppress the cortisol that the adrenal gland releases in times of stress—leaving you peaceful and calm.
4. Get stress out of your head and on paper
Writing in a journal every day can help you release thoughts and emotions that are causing you stress. Write from the position of an observer, recording your thoughts without any judgments. Just write it down so that you can see clearly what is going on inside. The next step is to identify the source of any anger or stress so you can begin to make changes. Looking into your thoughts give you the opportunity to gain insight into your feelings and reflect the underlying issues.
5. Unblock tension with exercise
The constant pressures of your job and family can lead to chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is a direct cause of muscle and joint pain. Clenched jaw? Lump in your throat? Chronic back and neck pain? These can all be manifestations of stress in your body. Release physical tension and clear these emotional blockages by using massage therapy, exercise, yoga, tai chi, or qi gong to get the circuits moving.
6. A Retreat to Avoid Burnout
Overloading your brain is a recipe for stress and health problems. Information overload is particularly harmful at midlife because we have less tolerance for stress, which can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. Press the “reset” button on yourself. Give yourself a retreat from the stresses of modern life. Take one day out of the seven-day week to minimize “screen” time. Don’t watch TV, don’t check email, and don’t look at the news—it will be there tomorrow, and after a day of rest, you will be refreshed and ready to deal with it.
7. Perspective from the Natural World
Use nature to reduce stress. Go outside, hike in the woods, walk on the beach, anything that puts you in contact with the natural world. It is difficult to feel stressed when you are surrounded by nature’s abundance of vitality and wonder.
I hope you find the ways to less stress! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!