4 Simple Ways to Effectively Cope with Stress #2 will surprise you
We can all relate to stress at some point in our lives and sometimes we feel ‘too busy’ to take that time out we really need. But here are four super simple, yet super easy and effective ways to cope with stress in our daily lives, without having to go out of our way.
Use these simple steps to help cope with the stress in your life.
Deep Breathing for Stress
“Improper breathing is a common cause of ill health. If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly. There is no single more powerful – or more simple- daily practice to further your health and well-being than breath work” – Andrew Weil, M. D.
Deep breathing has always been practiced in ancient cultures but only recently, Westerners are turning their attention to practices such as meditation and yoga in order to cope with their busy lifestyles. When we focus on our breathing, there are numerous physiological and emotional mechanisms that are triggered which have a positive impact on our health and well-being. According to Roger Jahnke, author of The Healer Within, “The breath is a link to the most profound medicine we carry within us.”
Adults, inhale between 12 – 20 breaths per minute, which supplies oxygen to our cells and eliminates toxins from our bodies. Deep breathing is an easy way to help relieve stress and helps to release toxins in our body and mind. Deep breathing also helps balance the left and right brain, helping you feel calmer and more productive.
Everyone knows, we breathe in Oxygen and breathe out Carbon Dioxide, but did you know that the highest rate of gas exchange in our lungs happens when we hold our breath? Due to this increased pressure, more Oxygen gets passed from our lungs into our blood and more Carbon Dioxide and other waste pass from the blood into the lungs which is eliminated when we exhale. Advocates of deep breathing claim that it helps the body to prevent and heal from disease.
Deep Breathing Techniques for Stress and Anxiety
There are many different techniques for deep breathing. My favourite technique of deep breathing is the 1-4-2 system of breathing. 1-4-2 are not the seconds you hold your breath for, but the times you multiply the first inhale. For example, you inhale for 5 seconds (part number 1), then you multiply this by 4 (part 2) so you hold your breath for 20 seconds (4 times as much and when you breathed in) then you breathe out for x2 (part 3), so for 10 seconds. If you were to inhale for 8 seconds, then you would hold your breath for 32 seconds and exhale for 16 seconds.
Try doing 10 of these repetitions three times a day, morning, afternoon and evening. You will definitely notice a shift in your energy, your calmness and mental clarity.
Why is Deep Breathing Beneficial for Stress?
The main reason why deep breathing is so beneficial to health is due to the fact that the action of the lungs combined with the diaphragm and thorax act as a pump for the lymph fluid.
The lymphatic system is referred to as the sewage system of the body. It cleans up the water created by many of the other systems in the body. Surprisingly, there is more lymph fluid in the body than blood, around twice as much! However the lymphatic system does not have a pump to push the lymph fluids around the body, it relies on our breathing and our movement.
The lymph fluids function is to surround each cell in our body and to protect each one by removing dead cells, blood proteins and other toxins and removing them from our body. Without a functioning lymph system, we would die within 24 hours as a result of trapped toxins and proteins surrounding our cells.
Deep breathing creates a movement of muscles to circulate the lymph fluid effectively around our body. People with a sluggish lymphatic system are more prone to illness and infections such as cancer, cysts, tumours, cellulite and so on.
When we exhale for twice the amount of time than when we inhale, stale air and other water products are drained from our lungs according to Pranayama practice.
Another method of deep breathing is the 1-1-1-1 method, where you breathe in, for example, for 5 seconds then you hold it the same amount of time, for 5 seconds then you release for 5 seconds then you hold this for 5 seconds.
Benefits of Deep Breathing for Reducing Stress
Deep breathing has a positive effect on your hormones and oxygenates your body, it also helps with digestion cleansing and nutritional absorption.
While you are deep breathing you are unable to release stress hormones at the same time. So be mindful of doing this intermittently throughout the day.
To help our body properly digest our food, it also helps to deeply breathe before we start to eat, this allows us to feel calmer when we eat and focus on chewing our food mindfully and properly, instead of eating fast and gulping it down. Stress can shut off our digestive capacity greatly, so it is important to try and eat in a calm state. When our digestive system is compromised, our ability to absorb nutrients is also compromised which affects our health.
Throughout the day focus on deep breathing and while doing this focus on positive feelings such as focusing on gratefulness. Feeling grateful and having gratitude allows more abundance to enter our lives.
Stay Hydrated to Help Stress
Anxiety, stress and depression are centred in the kidneys according to traditional medicine. Often times dehydration causes people to feel anxious. Many people assume just because they are drinking tea or coffee or a can of cola they are hydrated, however, these things can dehydrate the body. We should be drinking filtered, clean water throughout the day. For every cup of tea, we should drink another glass of clean water to compensate.
How much water should we drink daily to help stress?
We should aim to drink a litre of water in the morning and a litre of water throughout the day. To increase the hydration of water we can add a pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt into a litre of water. Please, please, please do not use a normal table or cooking salt. Normal salt has been heavily treated and heated to thousands of degrees and the ionic trace minerals are all removed from the salt. It actually only contains Sodium and Chloride, so it will not work. Celtic Sea Salt would be the best option to add to water and the next best would be Himalayan Salt.
Be careful when you use a normal ‘sea salt’ as many brands contain food additives such as anti-caking agents which prevent the salt to clump together. If the salt is completely white in colour, this is most likely a sign it has a low mineral content (in most cases but not all).
You can also refer our blog post on Japanese Water Therapy and its benefits.
Benefits of adding Himalayan Salt or Celtic Sea Salt to our water to help stress
Low mineral content water will pass through our bodies and pick up minerals along the way and will cause these minerals which we actually need to be eliminated from our body. Most clean, bottled water will cause our body to leach minerals in this way as many bottled or filtered water has low mineral content, even some of those labelled as mineral water. By adding a natural salt to the water, it remineralises it.
By adding a Himalayan or Sea Salt to our water, provides us with the electricity we need from the electrolytes. We are electrical beings and when we feel low energy, our brain doesn’t work as effectively and it also starts to cause anxiety in ourselves.
The ionic trace minerals are used by enzymes and cells and we have around 100,000 enzyme functions in every cell, every second and we have trillions of cells! By adding a pinch of salt to every litre of water we drink helps increase our metabolism by a hundred calories per day.
By drinking water throughout the day, you will find you are less hungry as a lot of times we feel hungry is actually due to dehydration.
The timing of water is important. It is important to avoid drinking water during meals as the digestive system and the enzymes work better without it being filled with water mixed with food at the same time. It is good to drink water 5 minutes before a meal or 1.5 hours after a meal.
Eat a more plant-based diet with lots of fibre to aid stress
High fibre diets help with stress and anxiety because your gut may affect your brain. Studies on mice that were given supplements to mimic a high fibre diet, showed fewer signs of stress and a healthier functioning gut. A high fibre diet can possibly reduce a ‘leaky gut’ and therefore reduce stress. Studies are limited in this field, yet one study carried out by researchers from University College Cork published in a peer-reviewed medical journal The Journal of Physiology supported the view that the lining of the gut may become more porous with a leaky gut and this could lead to bacteria and toxins leaking through and being absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to a range of illnesses including stress.
Always try and have a salad with every meal and eat more plant-based foods. A good way of getting more plant-based foods into your diet is to have a vegetable juice in the morning or a Nutribullet blend. Focus more on vegetables, berries and greens in your blends rather than fruits such as bananas and apples which can cause blood sugar levels to spike.
Ensure you are getting enough fibre into your diet. Fibre helps move toxins through your body and helps eliminate them to help the body detoxify. Many protein-based diets lack fibre, for example, meat, egg and cheese actually contain zero fibre.
You know if you are not getting enough fibre into your diet if you are not having at least one bowel movement daily.
Easily-accessible adaptogenic Herbs to help with stress
There are some amazing adaptogenic herbs that you can add to your diet to help with stress. The easiest ones to buy which are easily accessible are:
Holy Basil – also known as Tulsi which is different from Pesto Basil and has a more bitter taste and larger leaves. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to have adaptogenic properties and current research shows it protects against stress damage, diabetes and helps to normalise blood sugar and blood fats including cholesterol and triglycerides. Those who like to love to drink Chai, there is now an amazing Holy Basil (Tulsi) masala chai available, an organic blend of spices such as Holy Basil cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and pepper to invigorate. Click here for details.
Ginseng – studies have shown that this herb is shown to have a long-term anti-stress effect, improves memory, enhances mood and mental state. Christopher Hobbs, author of The Energy Herb The Ginseng, states, “Ginseng and other adaptogens work best after 1-3 months of moderate use by regular hormone levels and other biological functions to protect against the damaging effects of chronic stress.”
Liquorice Root – is an anti-inflammatory and rich in flavonoids and saponins. The structure of the saponins in the liquorice root resembles adrenal hormones. It aids the liver’s role in balancing hormones and enhancing the immune system.
There you have 4 simple, yet highly effective ways of helping you cope with stress on a daily basis, without going out of your way or your spending a huge amount of money.
Let me know if this has helped you, leave a comment below.