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Natural Ways To Relieve Stress Part 5/5

Sleep
Disruption in your sleep pattern is one of the most common signs of stress. Restful sleep is vital because this is the time the parasympathetic nervous system takes over. Chemical and hormonal resources are replenished and repair mechanisms get a chance to work so the body can recover. Seven to 8 hours of sleep are needed daily. Long-term sleep deprivation has been found to cause a wide and serious variety damage to the body. Some tricks to help with restful sleep include:

  • Eat no later than 3 hours before bedtime
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol
  • Listen to relaxing music or sounds
  • Consider taking magnesium before sleep. This may help with leg cramps or aches.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night to establish a routine for yourself.
  • Try deep breathing (breathe into your belly) as you fall asleep

Breathing
Respiration holds a unique place in our physiology because it is the only autonomic function which can also easily be controlled by willpower. Breathing connects our conscious and subconscious minds and is closely related to the functions of the heart. During inhalation, the sympathetic activity and heart rate increase. During exhalation, the opposite happens and our breathing slows.

Ideally we should take 10-12 breaths/minute. As we all know, stress and excitement increase the number of breaths we take. Slow deep breaths reduce the body’s stress response.

Blood Sugar
Stress affects the blood sugar balance as does caffeine. Avoiding sweets and eating a small meal every 3 hours or so helps maintain an even blood sugar level.

Physical Exercise
Exercise helps decrease stress, but if the body is already in a state of exhaustion hard exercise is probably not a good idea. The calming practice of yoga is a good choice on many levels.