My team of health coaches and I talk to many clients about their wellness goals but regardless of their unique intentions we find that reducing stress is a core component of achieving most. An estimated 80% of all doctors’ visits are related to stress. Achieving or sustaining your A-game at work may be your motivation to manage your stress effectively, but understanding that stress is at the core of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and the like, should give all of us a reason to pause and consider ways to help our body get back into the restful parasympathetic state.
The number of ways to reduce stress seem endless, and when working with clients it is our mission to find those that best fit your unique life circumstances. The fact that most techniques require time stops many from even trying as they appear to sacrifice other priorities that undoubtedly add even more stress to your mind and body, a snowball effect that eventually catches up with us.
There are however 3 ways to reduce stress that take each less than two minutes and if applied on a regular basis you will reap the benefits…clearer thought, the needed pause before snapping at your co-worker or spouse, improved memory, more creativity, a good night sleep, and so much more.
1. Add magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that an estimated 50% of Americans are deficient in but is critical in balancing every cell in your body. Magnesium restricts the release of stress hormones and acts as a filter to prevent them entering your brain.
HOW: Magnesium is found in many foods such as spinach, swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, and avocados, but even though I eat a diet high in plant-based foods, I found that it wasn’t enough. Magnesium is available in capsules or powder. My personal favorite is CALM powder which can be added to hot or cold water.
2. Breathe. I’m not going to lie, finding time to meditate has been life changing for me and if I were you, I’d make a 15-minute mediation practice a priority in your life. But I understand that this seems a far stretch from what you may want to commit to today. The next best thing you can do is taking short breaks (1-3 minutes) two to three times during your day to breathe with the intention to relax your body.
HOW: Push your chair away from your computer, sit up right, relax your shoulders, close your eyes, and breathe evenly in and out through your nose. As you bring attention to your face muscles (around your eyes, nose, ears), jaw, neck and shoulders repeat the word ‘relax’ in your mind instructing each muscle to release any tension.
3. Change your perception. This is a big one! Ever noticed that others might thrive on a short deadline while you might dread it? Others might enjoy being on stage presenting in front of a group while you rather hide in the back of the room?
Every situation in life depends 100% on the angle from which you choose to view it.
A great example of this is Jewel, four-time Grammy nominated singer-songwriter. At the age of 15 she was homeless and riddled with anxiety. Her agoraphobia gave her a fear of being around others until one day she decided to make a change. Every minute of the day which overwhelmed her with anxiety she flipped an imaginary switch in her mind that turned anxiety into excitement. In her book ‘Jewel Never Broken’ she shares how she must have done it a thousand times at the start but after a couple of weeks the effects started to show. She overcame a disease typically treated with medication purely by changing her perception of the situation.
HOW: Determine what lies at the core of your stressor (not enough time, being inexperienced in something, the unknown, etc.). Now imagine you talking to your best friend who has this same challenge. What would you tell him or her? What positive aspects do you know to be true that can offer encouragement? Narrow these statements down to one or two short sentences and make them your mantra (most often they start with “I am something positive” or “I have something positive“). Set reminders throughout the day and repeat your mantra often. Even if you don’t believe your words at the start, it will change your reality.
If you live in a high-pace environment you will greatly benefit from working with one of my health coaches specializing in this area. You will not only discover ways to find more time, but it will lead you to being more focused, joyful, and able to ace your career.