As Autumn and the holidays embrace us and we have more activities, errands, and social occasions, it is always a good idea to take a little time for ourselves.
I have noticed that most people are so busy doing everything for everyone else, that they aren’t making enough time to nurture and take care of themselves. Let’s face it, the better we take care of ourselves, the better we can take care of the ones we love.
We all need to take some time each day to slow down, calm the mind, and rest. If we don’t take a little time for ourselves, stress can get hold of us.
Stress is called the “silent killer” for a reason. Stress will put the body into survival mode, and it will break down the immune system. The last thing we need to be doing to ourselves during this busy time is to break down our own immune system.
A nice hot bath or foot soak at the end of the day is always a wonderful way to relax and release stress. Along with that, here are additional techniques on how to get a handle on stress, and boost the immune system as well!
First – Breathe! Breathe deeply into the diaphragm. When we are stressed, we tend to hold our breath and/or only breathe into our upper lungs. When we do this, it cuts off much of the oxygen to the brain, which makes it harder to think. This type of shallow breathing also tells the body that we are in a fight or flight mode.
Research that has been done with deep breathing exercises has shown an immediate positive impact affecting blood pressure and the PH of the blood. According to Esther Sternberg, a physician and researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, and author of several books about stress, “Slow Deep Breathing can actually stimulate the body’s reaction that will calm us down.” She says deep breathing is like putting on the brakes of your car.
According to Sternberg, when you’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to do its job to fight infections is seriously compromised. If you want to handle a stressful situation, and boost the immune system, and ultimately feel better, you need to breathe deeply and slowly on a regular basis. It’s free, easy, and you can do it anytime and anywhere!
Pranayama yoga uses breath work as a regular part of their practice. Cleveland’s Integrative Medicine Clinic has their chronic disease patients learn and practice breathing, using yoga techniques.
Mladen Golubic, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, says “You can influence asthma; you can influence chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: and you can influence heart failure.” There are studies which show that people with those conditions who practice breathing exercises regularly, benefit greatly.
Second- Eat whole organic foods (that are in their pure form, not from a package or fast food container), and eliminate caffeinated beverages from your diet. Many people rely on and become dependent on beverages that contain various forms of caffeine to help them deal with fatigue, which can be caused by stress. Caffeine will actually raise the level of stress hormones in the body, is a bowel irritant, and is also dehydrating.
Get off the roller coaster of caffeine and try for a steady, even stride of energy. Hydrate your body with abundant amounts of water first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up and before eating anything. Then eat a densely nutritious breakfast. When our body is really fed on a deep cellular level, we are giving the body the fuel it needs to run on.
Dehydration is a major cause of disease and illness, so hydrate with water or coconut water between meals. Don’t drink water with meals. Drinking water with meals waters down the digestive juices and can keep the body from fully digesting the food. Drink water between meals for hydration. Add a tiny bit of whole unrefined sea salt (electrolyte is a fancy medical term for salt) to the water for additional minerals. This will help the body absorb the water more effectively.
Third: Get a good night sleep. Every night, make the last 30 minutes before bed a time of reflection, gratitude and positive, peaceful thoughts. Sleeping is where our body rejuvenates itself.
A good night’s sleep can make a world of difference in our health and well-being. What we focus on before bed is what our mind is going to ponder over for hours throughout the night. Make a list of the things that are on your mind and also things that need to be done the next day. Put them down and get them out of your head. Release the thoughts about problems, and shift the focus to solutions.
Have your sleeping space free of clutter and electronics. Make sure that your bedroom can be completely dark. Light can disrupt the sleeping pattern, even if it is just a little nightlight. This will create a more peaceful healing environment. Free up the mind by taking about 20 or 30 minutes to focus the mind on something positive, joyful and peaceful.
Studies done by the Heartmath Institute show that when we focus on positive thoughts like gratitude, compassion or caring, we can actually stimulate healing responses in the body to the point of even activating our own stem cells.
Meditate, and if you like, you can do it with some soft uplifting music or sounds of running water. If you do need to do something, then read or watch something that is uplifting, positive and relaxing.
Fourth: Make time for laughter! There have been numerous studies revealing clear evidence that episodes of laughter helped to reduce pain, decreased stress-related hormones, boosted the immune system, and decreased anxiety.
I’m actually a certified laughing yoga instructor because I believe in the power of laughter so much. There are now laughter clubs around the world, because there have been so many documented cases that laughter can cure all kinds of health problems and increase the quality of life.
Cancer Centers of America uses laughter therapy now, and says it can:
- Enhance oxygen intake
- Stimulate the heart and lungs
- Relax muscles throughout the body
- Trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
- Ease digestion/soothe stomach aches
- Relieve pain
- Balance blood pressure
- Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)
Laughter therapy may also help to:
- Improve overall attitude
- Reduce stress/tension
- Promote relaxation
- Improve sleep
- Enhance quality of life
- Strengthen social bonds and relationships
- Produce a general sense of well-being
This last year, my daughter Amanda showed me a wonderful free app called Snap Chat. It is easy to use, and it has a part of it that allows you to create funny faces and scenarios. If you follow me on Instagram (nancygaddison), or facebook (Nancy Addison – Organic Healthy Life), you have probably seen some of the ones I have done with my daughter or my mother.
My mother, who is 90 and doesn’t get out much, absolutely loves it. Each time we find ourselves laughing so hard, I smile the rest of the day or week! It can be a fun thing to do with anyone. It’s easy, free, and can release tension and lift spirits in moments.
I recommend finding something like that, or a great song, movie or movie (ex. Elf, Legally Blonde, Big Business) that makes you feel joyful. Play it whenever you need to shift your energy or lift your mood.
When we are laughing, we can’t be worrying about the past or the future. It makes us completely present. Try it, you may like it.
In conclusion: I heard that in today’s world, we are confronted with more input in one day than our grandparents were in a whole year. As life is speeding up, it is important to know how to slow down, take some time to stop and smell the roses, and focus on what is important in life. Ultimately it is a choice.
If you are feeling depressed or low, find a place to volunteer, or get involved with a group that is doing something that interests you. When we are helping others or getting involved, we find ourselves feeling empowered, it can lift our mood, and create happiness in our life.
Breathe deeply, eat and drink whole fresh food, focus on the solution and positive things in life, find something that can make you laugh, and release stress from your life.
I send you wishes and love for a blessed November.