Actively pursuing a peaceful lifestyle and reducing stress can seem challenging in this busy world. Google searches for relaxation techniques have skyrocketed since 2020. It seems we could all use some tips on how to zen out.
We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.
It is all about the soil!
Three Ways To Reduce Stress
by Kelsey Proctor
September 16, 2021
Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine Published Weekly
CAFFEINE AND CORTISOL
I know, I know. Why am I starting this article out with bad energy and suggesting you reduce caffeine? Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. Overuse can lead to spikes in cortisol and adrenal gland fatigue, disruption of the REM sleep cycle, and dehydration. If you’re struggling with stress, avoiding substances that spike cortisol will help to maintain a more consistent, peaceful state.
You don’t have to kick caffeine to the curb completely! Small changes lead to huge results. Cutting back on caffeine with lower-cafe options like green tea or matcha powder can help the transition without the mind-numbing migraine that comes with sudden caffeine withdrawal.
L-theanine is the main source of the calming effect we feel when drinking tea. Many matcha powders on the market today include probiotics and bacteria for healthy digestion, as well.
Mindfully examining our days can be the key to discovering some preventable stressors in our lives. Often, the best place to start is by hydrating our system with liquids and enjoying happy, healthy food (any food that is nutritious and tastes amazing!).
Direct connection. This is the good stuff, right here. Our lives and schedules can seem like a turning wheel of daily tasks and responsibilities. Routine is great for lowering stress, but what happens when we switch on autopilot? Often, even surrounded by people at home and in the office, we will still feel a lack of connection.
Alone in a crowded room. I challenge you to be intentional with your effort to connect. Connection is easiest in places we are comfortable with; with people we love. Vulnerability and joy are often found hand-in-hand. Connection, they’ve said, is the opposite of addiction.
Our ideal form of connection may look different for everyone. Meditation and connecting to a higher power, journaling notes of gratitude to connect with oneself, or calling an old friend while walking around the house. Notice how these few scenarios do not include physically being in a group?
Searching for connection in a world still battling COVID-19, I have had to be intentional with socializing. I connect every day with the world in brief conversations with neighbors, people at the park wanting to pet my dog or phone calls with friends.
COOL SHOWERS AND HYDROTHERAPY
Cold showers have roots in Ayurvedic medicine. Water therapy has long been used as a complementary treatment for anxiety and depression. I have always been a huge fan of cold water therapy: showers, swimming pools, ocean water in springtime.
What I didn’t realize were the physiological benefits I was subconsciously using to relax. Cold showers affect the sympathetic nervous system, lowering blood pressure and releasing dopamine in the brain.
How does it work? Cold showers activate the nervous system by “[increasing] the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and to increase synaptic release of noradrenaline in the brain as well… a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect.”
An interesting study was published in 2018 on a 24-year-old woman with medication-resistant major depressive disorder. The mother was taking prescribed psychotropic medications, but with their lack of efficacy, and her first pregnancy – she wanted to wean off the medications for her baby. Now, keep in mind, this is in no way a comment on the use of psychotropic medications, but more a comment on the other tools we have to help ourselves.
The woman began a weekly program of cold open water swimming outside. The participant felt an immediate alleviation of symptoms and was cleared to discontinue the medication.
After the birth of her daughter, with continued open (cold) water swimming therapy, the participant was still medication-free one year later and had a significant reduction in overall symptoms.
I’ll leave with you today the words of Deborah Bennett, owner, and instructor of Heal me Yoga in VA.
The medicine of love and celebrating ourselves.
Action plan for today. Don’t rely on others to give you the love and recognition of how awesome you are. Don’t give others this responsibility.
The responsibility is yours.
give yourself the love you need and deserve.
celebrate how awesome you are and how far you have come.
go ahead and love and celebrate you. It will bring us much peace
And Peace = Health
Check It Out!
KIM SWIMS is a documentary film about the inspiring story of an accomplished open water swimmer’s attempt to become the first woman to swim 30 miles through a stretch of cold, rough and shark-inhabited waters off of the San Francisco coast.
“A smile puts you on the right track. A smile makes the world a beautiful place. When you lose your smile, you lose your way in the chaos of life.” — Roy T. Bennett | Author
van Tulleken C, Tipton M, Massey H, Harper CM. Open water swimming as a treatment for major depressive disorder. BMJ Case Rep. 2018 Aug 21;2018:bcr2018225007. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2018-225007. PMID: 30131418; PMCID: PMC6112379. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30131418/
Shevchuk NA. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(5):995-1001. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2007.04.052. Epub 2007 Nov 13. PMID: 17993252. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17993252/