Sustained heightened stress levels are making us sick and tired, and ultimately killing us.
What drives us all is a desire to be happy – but the things we are conditioned to desire to make us happy take our bodies and minds away from their natural rhythm. The effects of stress affect every cell in our body, causing dis-ease, and over time resulting in medical conditions such as heart conditions, cancer, and a huge increase in functional illnesses which have no apparent medical cause, such as chronic pain, IBS, chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia, and many more. Causing millions of people to be dependent on medication and have a greatly reduced quality of life. According to Nick Read, 30-40% of Britons feel exhausted, as our minds and bodies are constantly under physical strain. By 2020 1 in 2 people will have cancer which is caused on one level stress.
Most of us have a pretty good idea of what causes our stress; work and long working hours, commuting, the 24/7 culture, living in the digital age, major life events and so on.
What is apparent though is how we choose to unwind, actually increase stress levels, even things which we think are not harmful such as watching TV -thrillers, celebrity shows increase stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol. Various mental health research studies have shown that Use of social media like Facebook and Twitter may be feeding anxiety and increasing feelings of inadequacy, more stressors. Some forms of exercise such as high impact aerobic activity, spinning etc again increases our heart rate to such an extent activating our sympathetic nervous system, once again releasing stress hormones, which also cause us to hold onto fat. Thus explaining why some of us still can’t shift pounds even when going to the gym. Travel and holidays can leave us depleted, the stress of catching planes, cooking ourselves in hot sun, and enjoying more than our usual quota of alcohol are further stressors.
So what to do – how can we really reduce stress. We can’t wait for our annual holiday or a retreat in the mountains. We can do it every day by following some simple tips. Take regular time for proper relaxation that involves quietening and calming the body and mind, reducing stimulation of the senses so they can have proper rest. That is no social media, no music, TV or even a glass of wine, that is just sitting still in total quiet for 10-30 mins twice a day. This can develop into a meditation practice but I think people can still get stressed thinking they ‘should’ be meditating. This is just simply being quiet. It can be done in nature on a walk or even better. There’s no fancy app for this, or gadget, or dress code, it can done on a tube, in the park or in bed. It causes us to be quiet, to listen, reduces amplification the of small pointless things which we tend to magnify as we over-think and lowers the heart rate and reduces stress.
It can be hard to sit with ourselves, and feel pain or discomfort that we often want to mask. But in doing so, we deal with things, and reduce stress before they take hold in our body. As the personal development guru Louise Hay says today's dis-ease is tomorrows disease.
If there is no time – make time – do one less thing. It's incredible how we can clear our diaries if we are sick or have an emergency to deal with. So much of what we rush about doing is maybe not so important, effective and being overwhelmed with these things to do is the root of much our stress in the western world.
So my top tips are to do nothing for some period of the day, twice a day, and do maybe one things less every day. I’d love to say also do yoga every day, and although there is a form of yoga that suits everyone without question, it takes time to find the right teacher. If yoga doesn’t float your boat, walk in the park, or in nature – do something which causes you to breathe deeply, stretch, and soothe your mind …every damn day….
Samantha is a yoga teacher, and the founder of bhuti, eco wellbeing escape, offering yoga, pilates, treatments and a vegan café. She is a Yoga alliance 500-hour teacher. Samantha was deeply affected by the stress of working in the hotel industry and coming from a family afflicted by early mortality through disease such as cancer. Samantha was inspired to set up bhuti transforming improving the wellbeing of all.