How are you today? Are you feeling stressed?
Nowadays, it would be very hard to find a person who isn’t stressed, wouldn’t it? Everyone is stressed on a certain level. We’re all faced with day-to-day stressors like traffic jam, getting the kids out the door in the morning, projects deadline, baking competitions, mortgage repayments and so on.
And on top of that the constant pursuit of time, rest, happiness, accomplishment can have a big impact on our mental and physical health. And even if we manage to overcome one stressor, life throws us another and another and another.
Stress impacts all of us. No one is really immune to stress. Experts are coming up with new techniques to mange stress and tackle the daily stressors but the outcome sooner or later reverts back to stress.
Picking an effective stress management technique can be hard. The dots we need to connect when choosing one, can prove to be fundamental in our success. Or therefore the lack of it.
For any technique, strategy, tactic or method to work, it needs to match the challenge first. If we don’t know what is the cause of our stress, then how can we pick an effective technique to battle it?
The origin of stress
The inevitable truth is that stress is ever present and always will be. There is no stress management therapy, no magic pill, class, person or thing that can stop stress. Stress is part of our DNA either we like it or not. Therefore, the way to cope with stress is to understand that the stress we experience outside, is the stress we experience inside first.
I know that this statement may be tricky to follow. Because you may ask how a project deadline or a meeting with your boss or financial commitments can cause stress from the inside? It all comes down to understanding the origin of stress.
No outside commodities can make you happy or unhappy, stressed or relaxed. Only the attachment to the thought can. I’m not saying to let go of the thought of stress, because this would be unrealistic and frankly impossible on a biological level.
I’m talking about recognising what brings you stress, how you react to it and if there is any other way of approaching the situations in your life, so they don’t put your body and mind into the havoc of stress.
And the more attention we pay to what is happening inside, the better equipped we will be to manage the stress outside. To understand what is happening inside, we need to tune in first. And this can be achieved through the power of body – mind connection.
The alignment between your body and mind
We can live in a state of bliss, the same way we live in a state of stress. When we live in a state of bliss, we live in a state of balance. Many philosophies, cultures and sayings point towards balance: day and night, the yin and yang, black and white, death and life, but they all drill towards duality.
To conquer stress and be able to face the day in a more relaxed way, we need to align our body with our mind. Because the one cannot exist without the other. Because if the one cannot cope with the challenges of the day, neither can the other. Because if one gets sick, so does the other.
The alignment between those two elements is the ultimate tool when beating the stress and overwhelm. And here are 5 ways to connect your mind and body to overcome the daily stressors.
When we talk about nourishment, we usually talk about food. And for a healthy mind, you need to have a healthy body. Food is truly a medicine, so the better quality food you put in, the healthier your body will be.
But on a deeper level you also want to improve the relationship between what you eat and the clarity of your thoughts. If you’re lacking energy in your body, consume unhealthy foods (such as highly processed food, high sugar content foods), your body goes into the state of inflammation and your mind is pre-occupied with making you feel better on a physical level rather than thinking about the best solution to your challenges. And as a result, both, your mind and body, cannot keep up with the daily demands.
However, another way to connect your mind and body is through nourishing your mind too. The more open-minded you are, the healthier thoughts you have, the more nourishing foods you will be adding onto your plate. If your limiting beliefs are not so limiting, your mind is free to make healthier choices when it comes to what to eat.
The joy is truly in the movement.
The connection between body movement (aka exercising) and clearing your mind is huge! On a physiological level, during exercise your body undergoes several chemical reactions which have an effect not only on your physical state but also your mental state.
During HI exercise our body releases endorphins which are known as the natural pain killers or happy hormones. Because your body is flooded with endorphins, your chemical composition changes and you are more on a lookout for positive outcomes to a problem at hand.
Movement can also change your view. Literally. Because you’re taking action with your body and you’re moving, your perception changes too. Thanks to movement and different perception, what you see now may be the most needed inspiration to tackle that project at work, that unhappy client or improve your mood so your emotional response is more constructive.
The fastest way to heal, your body and mind, is through movement. Getting up, shortly after a surgery is a common practice in the medical world. It’s been used for centuries because it works. And that physical act of movement boosts our feeling of accomplishment. Because that body movement gives your mind confidence that things after all are achievable.
We often feel stressed and overwhelmed because the demands and commitments don’t match the time and energy, we’ve got available. Most of us live in a state of confusion, where we don’t know what we want anymore.
The concept of have it all, do it all is more present than ever. Unfortunately, by attempting to do it all, we lose focus on what’s really important. And because we don’t have an unlimited supply of time or energy, we are in a constant rush, taking action after action without even knowing why we do it.
Bringing both our body and mind into focus can bring us alignment. Embracing the concept of ‘doing nothing’ can help us to put our body into stillness and our mind into a state where we can create some space.
Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into our daily practice will not only calm our nervous system but it will create that needed space where you can pause for a second and check with yourself if what you’re attempting to accomplish has the value you want it to have.
During the stress response (the fight or flight response) our body undergoes a lot of chemical reactions. We all know that our heart beats faster, our palms get sweaty, and this is all to do with the stress hormones (such as adrenaline and cortisol) being released into our blood stream.
But the stress response is really a moment when our body is getting mobilised to either fight or flight. This means that certain functions in our body are coming to a stop (like for example our digestive system stops functioning, because at that very life-threatening moment, the energy which would be spend on digesting your dinner can be used in a more enhancing way). Oxygen is being taken from other organs and delivered to our limbs so they’re ready for action. This also means that our brain doesn’t get the required supply of fresh oxygen when we’re under stress.
Every time you go into the stress response, your rational brain shuts down. You can’t make a decision, everything becomes foggy and unclear. Because at this moment, when you’re encountering a danger, your survival is priority number one, and you don’t need to think how you’re going to pay your bills next month. Your logical centre is closed so you can keep all your focus on fighting or flighting.
The way to stop the fight or flight response is to deliver fresh oxygen into your brain. And you can do that simply by taking a deep, expansive breath. The more oxygen you can deliver, the sooner you’ll be able to stop the stress response and align your body with your mind and start to think clearly.
In today’s, digital world, it’s hard to switch off. And although we may have more luck with changing the external environment and rest our bodies, we struggle with mental detox.
Rest is fundamental to our optimal health and wellness. Sleep is essential for our body to restore, repair and rejuvenate. You cannot function on an elevated level when you don’t deliver enough sleep time.
Mental rest is as important as the body’s. Have you ever gone on holidays, but caught yourself checking work emails and stressing about things which were out of your control? That’s because you were resting your body and not your mind.
Switching off our mind when the demand to be on is 24/7 can be hard. But we can only beat the stress and deliver our greatness if our mind is rested. The more our mind is relaxed, calm, the sharper it will be and the better decisions it will make.
If there is one thing I can say with certainty, is that stress is ever present. Stress response is a survival response and it’s part of being human, so on a biological level it’s impossible to eliminate stress.
But stress doesn’t have to be your foe. Understanding that your mind and body are part of the same coin, so the alignment between them two is the key to turn the stress off. You can align your body and mind through five connections:
When you nourish your body, don’t forget to nourish your mind. The food you eat will give you energy and clarity of thoughts. The lighter your body, the clearer and healthier your thoughts are.
Exercising and body movement may be more associated with looking after our body, but the chemical reactions which our body undergoes during exercising have a profound effect on our mind. Thanks to endorphins being released into our blood stream, our mood improves, and we are more drawn towards the positive and optimistic outlook.
Living in a state of stress and overwhelm has the tendency to derail us. The more stressed and overwhelmed we are, the less focus on what’s important and what matters to us we have. Embracing the concept of doing nothing, mindfulness and meditation can bring both our body and mind into focus, so we can make better decisions.
Because stress response is a physiological response, we can stop it by another physiological response. When your body goes into fight or flight response, distribution of oxygen changes and your brain doesn’t get as much oxygen as it requires. Through breathing you can align your body with your mind and deliver that needed oxygen into your brain, so the logical part of your brain takes over and assures your body that everything is alright.
The true power lies in the ability to not only rest your body but also your mind. Today’s world demands us to be available all the time, but only through giving relief to both our body and mind we can show up as the higher version of self.
So, which mind-body connection will you use today to beat the daily stress?