You feel the strain every day don't you?
Whether it's work, finances or taking care of the kids, stress is an unwelcome visitor that never seems to leave. Well, you're not alone. According to a recent Gallup poll, 8 in 10 Americans report feeling stressed out.
Over time, stress can contribute to a plethora of health issues like chronic headaches, heart disease, depression, anxiety; the list goes on. Managing stress levels, on the other hand, ups your chances of living longer and healthier, provides clarity of mind and sharpens cognition.
Try these two effective stress blasting techniques to help you find your Zen.
1. Tap Away the Stress
With the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), the power to melt away stress is literally at your fingertips. The principle behind EFT is relieving negative emotions by gently tapping specific meridian point on the body. Tapping while focusing on a negative feeling or a particular problem helps the body release stress hormones.
According to Eileen Lichtenstein, a level two certified EFT practitioner, "Doing EFT brings serotonin, which is a feel-good hormone, up to the section of your brain called the Amygdala." The Amygdala is the part of the brain which deals with feelings and emotions.
EFT is so effective that it's even used to help war vets suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. In a recent study, published in the Permanente Journal, the technique reduced PTSD in war veterans by over 60 percent after 5-10 sessions.
Tapping is quick and painless. You can do it anywhere and at any time to help resolve negative emotions like anger, depression, anxiety and of course, stress. All you need are your fingertips, a tapping chart and a few minutes.
Follow these simple steps to tap way stress and anxiety.
- Start by identifying the problem. Are you worried about someone? Are you anxious about giving a speech, plagued by bad memories? Do you suffer from panic attacks?
- Rate your stress on a scale of 1-10. Ten = very anxious, and zero = no anxiety at all.
- Focus entirely on one issue.
- Use two fingers to begin tapping the Karate Chop point while using a setup statement. (See Chart at right)
A setup statement looks like this: “Even though I’m stressed out about [insert problem here], I deeply and completely accept myself.”
So, for example, if you're anxious about giving an upcoming speech, you can use the following set up statement.
“Even though I'm anxious about the speech I'm giving next week, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Now continue to tap while saying the following statements. Of course, you can adjust this script to suit your specific situation.
Top of the Head: "This anxiety is giving me knots in my stomach."
Eyebrow: "I'll probably forget my speech."
The side of the Eye: "What if I make a fool of myself in front of everyone?"
Under the Eye: "Just the thought of giving a speech in front of all those people makes me break into a sweat."
Under the Nose: "Maybe I can pay someone to give the speech for me."
Chin: "I really hate giving speeches!"
Collarbone: "This anxiety is too much!"
Under the Arm: "The thought of giving this speech makes me want to throw up."
Now, take a deep breath.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how intense is your stress?
Tap through the script again until your stress levels disintegrate.
2. A Walk Among the Trees
For 20 seconds, close your eyes and imagine walking in a lush green forest with sunlight streaming on your face and a babbling brook flowing in the distance. Now open your eyes. Do you notice how much more calm and centered you feel?
That's one of many benefits you can expect from participating in Shinrin-yoku, the Japanese term for forest bathing, or spending time in forested environments.
As Amos Clifford, author of the book Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature, puts it, "forest bathing is about slowing down, coming into our bodies, and coming into our senses. The forest in a way gives back the gift of ourselves, of who we are, who we tend to forget on a daily basis."
Amos could be on to something. Spending time in nature, not only reduces stress but provides additional health benefits. According to a recent meta-analysis study of 700 people, individuals who practiced forest bathing had significantly lower blood pressure and cortisol levels than non-forest bathing participants.
Don't live near a forest? No problem. City dwellers can still reap the benefits of connecting with nature by visiting local urban green spaces. Urban green spaces are part of, you guessed it, urban areas.
Urban green spaces are usually entirely or partially covered with grass, trees, shrubs and other vegetation. Examples of green spaces include parks and community gardens. Studies show a direct correlation between green space availability with increased physical activity and improved mental health.
If there isn't a green space near your home, consider using the following resources.
- Call your community recreation center and ask about area parks and trails. You can also check out your state government's website for similar information.
- Find protected areas in your region by visiting the Nature Conservancy website at nature.org.
- Visit FindYourPark.com. It's a website sponsored by the U.S. National Park Service and the National Park Foundation that serves as an online directory for national park areas.
Use one or both of these natural stress busters to chill out and find your Zen.
EFT Tapping Chart used with permission from Thriving Now.
Telephone Interview with Amos Clifford, author of the book Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature
Telephone Interview with Eileen Lichtenstein, a level two certified EFT practitioner
is a Pittsburgh-based freelance health and wellness writer. For the past four years, She’s provided reader-friendly, scientifically grounded researched articles for businesses and publications helping individuals achieve optimal health. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Writing as well as a certification in Medical Terminology. Her work has appeared in publications like Clean Eating Magazine
and Health and Wellness Magazine
. Writing samples are available on request, or you can read a few writing samples right now
. When she isn’t writing, Theona enjoys staying on top of the latest health-related news and information. Connect with Theona Layne by visiting her website