You have options; you don't have to choose the path to greater stress. [Photo: Bigstock]

Stress management for the soul

17 September, 2018

Can you recall a time when you didn’t feel stress?

Many of us wish for lives that are free from stress but, in fact, we do need stress in our lives, though stress can be either positive or negative.

Positive stress is the stress that gets us up in the mornings. We need this type of stress, or adrenaline to get us going, spur us on to do things and achieve our goals.

Negative stress places extra burdens on us, we begin to feel anxious, tired, drained. It’s when it turns into negative stress, that’s when the problems begin. Over the long term it can have detrimental effects on our bodies and minds.

So, with this in mind, how can we even start to think of reducing this negative stress?

Firstly, ask yourself, what the factors in your life are that are possibly causing the stress. Often it’s things like a demanding job, family or health issues and sometimes reducing these kinds of stresses is easier said than done. You cannot just remove these factors from your life.

But when it comes to how you behave within certain situations it can come as a surprise to learn that you can indeed change how you perceive these factors. Small changes can mean big improvements on your perception and then consequently have a positive outcome for you.

Getting started

When looking at ways to reduce negative stress, there are several methods to choose from.

  • First exercise. Yes, you can do this! It doesn’t have to be full on interval training either. Gentle yoga or Pilates, a refreshing walk in the park or stretches can influence the production of endorphins or feel good hormones to be released into the body. This allows you to feel and become more settled and promotes calmness, something we all need more of these days.
  • Then try meditation. We are always on the go, living in society which seems to promote a busy lifestyle as being the only way to live. Not so, in my opinion. Meditation is one way to deal better with this modern way of life. Of course it is easy to think you couldn’t manage to do this, as it appears on first glance that you have to try and erase thoughts from your mind. This is a common misconception about meditation. Instead the purpose of mediation is to try to promote a slower, calmer, more peaceful state of mind. Taking 10 minutes of your day out to do this, effectively stops the mad rush of life for a few moments. This act in itself has positive effects on the mind and body.

A complementary path

As a complementary health therapist I often deal with clients who suffer from negative stress issues. In addition to the suggestions above, there are complementary approaches you can use in order to try to relieve the effects this negative stress has on you at any time.

One such method is the renowned Bach Flower Remedies. There are 37 in total, and were first established by Dr Edward Bach. It is said that these potentised plant essences have the potential to mediate emotional states, from that Monday morning feeling to more extremes of jealousy, guilt, various anxiety states.

If you keep a diary for a week or so, writing down how you feel at certain times of the day, you may get a pattern of your most commonly occurring emotional states. This will help you choose your particular remedy to suit you. Once you have your remedy keep it handy and try just a few drops under the tongue when you feel these emotions arise, or dilute a few drops into a glass of water and sip throughout the day.

Some Bach Flower Remedies which comes to mind are larch, for confidence issues, hornbeam, for that having the early morning blues feeling, holly, for jealousy and coveting others lifestyles, white chestnut, for those who lie awake during the night with niggling worries.

The beauty of using these remedies is there are no known side effects. If you are still in doubt as to buying your own, you can always seek advice from a qualified Bach Flower Remedy practitioner.

Using aromatherapy can be of great benefit, too. Of course receiving massage can be very helpful in relaxing the mind and body in harmony. However you can also use essential oils to create scent which will penetrate through the nasal passages into the part of the brain which controls the emotions.

Essential oils which are commonly used for stress are lavender, chamomile and bergamot. Bergamot, in particular, is said to be a great uplifting oil, perfect for those experiencing mild depression, anxieties and general low mood. Combining these essential oils in an aromatherapy burner can provide a calming atmosphere around you, as well as scenting your environment with the most delicious of scents. Try these stress busting blends:

  • For an uplifting blend, use 4 drops of bergamot, 3 drops of tangerine and 5 drops of lavender in an aromatherapy burner, mix with 10mls of water.
  • Another burner blend combines 5 drops of chamomile, 4 drops of basil and 5 drops of lemon, again in 10mls of water. This provides a clean, fresh happy scent, basil is also great for the concentration too, which can sometimes be compromised when you are suffering from anxiety states. Just add your tea light and there you are, instant relaxation and stress management for the soul.