Lately I’ve been focused on positive living with intention.

In fact, my last three posts have been all about incorporating positive changes in order to live with more intention to attract what you desire and value most in life. To me, this is a desirable approach to living in balance and wellness.

However, just because you want to live a calmer, more relaxed life doesn’t mean it is easy. In fact, it can only be done with positive intention. For the past year, we have been forced to curtail “life as we knew it” in many ways. We were told to not gather, not go out to eat, not shop in person, not travel, not, not, not. All very negative, no matter how hard you try to live positively.

Negativity that lasts more than a second ultimately brings stress into your life. While stress is a natural part of life, you body is not meant to be in a constant state of stress; it’s unhealthy and leads to disease rather than wellness.

Stress occurs when the body is under attack, whether an actual life or death situation is occurring or there is the perception of threat on the horizon. The brain doesn’t know the difference so it treats them all in the same fashion. The brain responds by putting the body on high alert and releasing cortisol (the stress hormone) to help the body cope and adjust.

Because this is the natural response of the body, people lull themselves into believing they can handle high levels of stress without affecting their well-being. I know, you’re probably thinking, “I can handle stress”, yet the reality is it’s more likely stress is handling you. Let me see if I can explain why this is the case, and why as Dr. Steven Masley says, “Stress kills us.”

Repetition is the language of the brain.

The more you tell your brain that stress is okay, the more your brain will adapt and consider the stress to be “normal.” When your body experiences a stress trigger – whether actual or perceived – the brain releases cortisol to help bring the body back into balance. The more you repeat this process, the more the brain adapts and the more cortisol is released, and before you know it, your body is constantly marinating in cortisol. That doesn’t even sound healthy, does it?

Yes, stress kills because you don’t even realize your body has adapted most of the time. Daily life has many stress triggers, and some cause a higher fight, flight or freeze response than others; that’s the sympathetic response to the body being in danger or under attack. The heart races, blood pressure rises, palms become sweaty, breathing becomes shallow…you know the drill.

Stress alerts your body when it’s time to make a change.

It’s learning to manage your response to stress that will ultimately determine how well you are. Stress left unaddressed threatens your mental and physical health, which is how “stress kills us.”

So how do you begin to manage stress rather than continue to let stress manage you? Here are a few tips to help you feel more relaxed and calm, which ultimately will help support your overall well-being and put you on a path to wellness.

  1. Get a Heart Rate Variability (HRV) evaluation. This has been the gold standard in the medical community for more than 50 years, and it’s a marvelous tool to make the invisible visible. It measures stress in the body and can help you find areas for improvement and longevity. [click here for more information]
  2. Use BrainTap® technology. This is a simple yet effective method of meditation for the brain to relax and reset. [click here for your free 15-day trial]
  3. Establish supports. It’s okay to ask for help, and having someone you can talk with helps you know you are not alone, a de-stressor for sure. Having someone who can simply listen and offer a different perspective can be beneficial, so build a support network that challenges you. And remember, be reciprocal.
  4. Count your blessings. Find the positive things in your life and be grateful. Start a blessings journal. Practice ARKS (acts of random kindness). Call a friend or family member. Write a gratitude card. Do things that help you focus on the positive.
  5. Practice not taking things personally. It’s easy to assume the worst, but what happens when you assume the best and take the emotion out of the situation? Hurt can only increase stress.
  6. Set and focus on your priorities. It’s your life live it in a way that speaks volumes about who you are and who you want to be. And remember, “No” is a complete sentence.
  7. Take breaks. Whatever you do throughout the day, be sure to take breaks. The Pomodoro Technique teaches you to work on a singular task for 25 minutes and then take a five minute break. After four times, take a 15-30 minute break and watch your productivity and wellness increase.
  8. Celebrate the little things. Whether it’s the sunshine after days of rain or your child wanting to hug you just because, take time to celebrate. It’s easy to miss the little joys in life so be sure to write them in your blessings journal as you celebrate them. Life is too short to miss even one celebration along the way.
  9. Forgive yourself. Ever thought about how much stress is self-inflicted because you feel guilty over something you did or didn’t do? You are not perfect; no one is. Give yourself a break, and watch how much better you feel when you truly offer yourself forgiveness.
  10. Laugh often. Laughter really is good medicine. It relaxes the whole body, boosts the immune system, triggers the release of endorphins, protects the heart, burns calories, lightens an angry load, and may even help you live longer.

The list goes on from there, but when you make simple adjustments to your response to stress, it can be absolutely life changing. While it may not be quick or easy, it is absolutely worth the time and effort to make these important changes for your overall health.

And by the way, be sure to drink more water; eat healthy foods; get moving; get plenty of sleep; and take a good probiotic. These daily practices help me reduce systemic stress in my body and increase my wellness quotient. What are you doing to help reduce stress in your life? Leave a comment below; I always love to hear from you. Until next time, stay positive and be well…