Stress is a funny thing. While these days we usually consider it a hindrance to our everyday quality of life, it came into existence for the very opposite reason—as an evolutionary survival technique. The feeling we get when we are under stress is actually the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response in action. Originally, (way back when we were cave people) that response was something that could save your life when faced with, say, a cranky sabre-tooth tiger or a woolly mammoth that wanted your campsite for his own.
The adrenalin stress pushes through your body (the dry mouth, the loss of appetite, the racing heart) is the tool we were given to defend ourselves, either by putting up a fight or running like hell. The problem is that these days, the scarcity of woolly mammoths—or in fact any large animal likely to eat us at any given moment—means that we use that fight or flight response for much more insignificant and non-life-threatening events.
All this means that our bodies are under stress far often than they’re designed to be, which is why we occasionally need to get away on luxurious Fiji holidays or head out to the country where there’s nothing to trigger us off! Here are 3 ways to de-stress, if you’re thinking you might need to.
Meditating not only helps to calm the never-ending list of questions and thoughts running through your brain, it can help you feel centred, focused and strong enough to cope with stressful events as they happen, rather than letting them build up and affect your body and mental health.
There are so many ways to meditate, and finding the way that works best for you is key. Do a bit of research into different meditation styles and start practicing a little each night. While it may be hard to quiet your thoughts at first, you’ll eventually get the hang of it!
Exercise releases endorphins, which can help clear out that pent-up adrenalin (you know, the stuff that’s not getting used to fight tigers and mammoths!) At least 20 minutes of exercise per day is the perfect way to get on top of stress and keep your body regulating its own adrenalin production. The key is to find an exercise you enjoy—there’s no point doing something each day that you dread, therefore adding to the stress, rather than easing it! Swim, do yoga, play a sport or simply go for a walk with your iPod in and forget about the rest of the world.
More and more people are turning to travel to try and balance out the stress of their day-to-day lives. While it’s not always possible to jet off to a foreign destination every time you get a high phone bill, having set times where you escape it all not only gives you something to look forward to, it can help you hit pause on the stress-button and regroup your troops, so to speak.
Whether you’re sitting in a quiet hotel or enjoying a vietnam holiday in the Whitsundays, there is something about being geographically removed from your everyday life that can help you become emotionally removed from the stress of it.