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Stress : the second round !

Mis à jour : 11 avr. 2019

Mental overload, exhaustion, fatigue... stress is a broad issue that affects many of us, if not almost all of us. I wouldn't believe anyone who says they've never been stressed in their life (unless they're a Buddhist monk...)

In case you missed it, I have already covered this topic in one of my previous articles, which I strongly encourage you to read because this one is a direct continuation of it. We had already established a correlation between stress and diet. So I won't come back to this point, but know that staying zen and eating McDonald's and candy don't go well together !

In the past, I was your typical stressed person. So much so that my body was somatic ; I had eczema all over my body and the dermatologists I went to many times couldn't determine its origin.

Today, I am much more serene. My close family and friends, both personal and professional, have noticed this change.

I will share with you all the practices I have put in place to achieve this, in the hopes that it will be beneficial for you. :)

Start by cleaning up

Don't worry, I'm not implying that you have poor hygiene !

Do you know Feng-shui ? It is the art of organizing and harmonizing your living space and your environment, because it directly impacts your mental well-being. And these are not empty words ! It is an ancestral Asian practice based on the same foundations as acupuncture, the traditional Chinese medicine widely used in our Western societies.

In fact, the environment you live in generates positive or negative waves.

It is often said that our outer world is a reflection of our inner world.

I don't see why the opposite wouldn't be true ! If you live in chaos, it is not surprising that your mind follows the same path.

So, I have become a fan of minimalism. Clarify your environment to clarify your mind. Remember that every object is a stimulus to your brain, and can therefore be potentially stressful. Getting rid of the superfluous is therefore life-saving. We live better with less: D

Gorgeous butterfly that I took a picture of (I am proud of myself !) on the island of Ishigaki belonging to the archipelago of Okinawa, Japan <3

Move !

Again, I'm not implying that you're lazy :D

But know that the essence of life that infuses your body is movement ! Your mind is intimately linked to your body through biochemical and physiological reactions of unprecedented finesse.

It is therefore no longer to be proven, exercise plays a major role in stress management because it induces the secretion of endorphins, which are anxiolytic hormones that inhibit stress. They are also anti-fatigue. That's great, isn't it?

So find yourself a physical activity that you enjoy, and it will later become a real pleasure because these hormones have an addictive effect.

Meditation, that hippie thing that saved me

Talking about meditation is funny to some people, might even make them run away. And yet, this practice has many scientifically proven virtues. Meditation is already used in many hospitals in the USA and Europe, in the treatment of many diseases !

It is first and foremost a matter of giving yourself mental rest. Which seems obvious, right ? It is even crucial, as is physical rest.

The core of stress

Have you ever wondered what the root cause of your stress was ? The answer that may come naturally to you is that your mind is continuously rumbling. Either you're dwelling in the past (on which, by the way, you no longer have an influence), or you're projecting yourself into a future that doesn't yet exist (you're imagining things, really...), which generates anxiety, worries and exhaustion.

What about the present moment ?

By being constantly lost in your thoughts, you're missing out on life because you no longer live in the present moment.

We tend to identify with our thoughts, to believe that they are an integral part of our personality. But that's not true.

Meditation will teach you to ground yourself and live in the present moment, to cohabit with this flow of thoughts in order to create a space of mental tranquility.

You will be able to recharge your batteries and reconnect with yourself (I know, hippie talk...)

Because it is not normal to undergo this psychic flogging that we constantly inflict on ourselves : it consumes our vital energy and is a source of exhaustion. We're our worst enemies!

A beautiful flower whose name escapes me, at the Fukushuen garden in Naha, Japan

How do I meditate ?

Go to a quiet place, and first focus on your breathing for 3 to 10 minutes, once or several times a day. There are no hard rules, it depends on how you feel. Don't worry, there are many videos of guided meditation on Youtube. There are also dedicated applications : personally, I like to use Headspace, which is super cool, but it is no longer free after the 10th session. There are other free ones too, such as Petit Bambou.

However, you should know that, like any new practice you approach, it takes practice and patience to see results. At first, it was very hard for me, and it was only after several sessions that I saw the benefits. And it can take more or less time depending on the individual.

Practicing meditation with consistency will also cultivate your patience. In a world that goes at a hundred miles an hour, it couldn't be more beneficial because you will learn to take the time to do things by devoting yourself fully to them.

I was a very impatient person by nature, and the meditation was very beneficial for me !

Mother Nature is your friend <3

If you are struggling with meditation, as may be the case at first, I suggest that you go outdoors, in the middle of nature. Any park or natural area will do. We have all felt, at one time or another in our lives, this quietude and appeasement when in contact with nature (if this is not your case, I strongly suggest that you try it !)

It is the meditation of the lazy, if you will :D and it is this state of appeasement that meditation aims at.

This is called sylvotherapy. This practice began in Japan (the country I love) and is already widely used there in the health system.

Its benefits have been scientifically proven. It strengthens your natural immunity and prevents the development of cancerous cells.

That's why you really should have green plants in your home =)

Also, know that sun exposure (don't overdo it ! But of course if you live in Northern France like myself, ther's no chance of that happening anyway...) also induces the secretion of endorphins in your body, just like exercose ! Bingo ! Long live sunbathing !

Torii, a traditional Japanese gate, located at the entrance to a forest in the small village of Taketomi, part of the Archipelago of Okinawa.

Cardiac coherence

In the same vein as meditation or sophrology, this technique consists in controlling your breathing over a certain period of time, for instance ; six inhalations/exhalations per minute for five minutes.

Don't worry, there's the shovel of guided videos on Youtube!

This practice reduces stress and improves concentration.

Personally, the meditation/cardiac coherence combo has done wonders for me.

Fasting and cold exposure

I won't spend too much time on these topics because they will be the subject of future posts, but these two factors greatly optimize stress management by improving your body's adaptive response (don't hesitate to read my article on cold exposure which is already available!)

Physiologically speaking, stress is linked to high levels of a hormone, called cortisol, secreted by the adrenal glands (glands located on the kidneys). Fasting normalizes this rate, and promotes a return to homeostasis, the state of equilibrium, of the cortisol level.

Last, a few pieces of advice

I invite you to keep a daily journal in which you can write down all your negative thoughts, to ease the burden on your mind.

You can also write down all the positive aspects of your day, in order to remember them, because it is easy to focus on the negative, unfortunately.

You can also take adaptogenic plants, such as ashwagandha or rodhiola. These are plants that improve your body's adaptive response to stress in general. There are many of them (astragalus, ginseng, eleutherococcus...)

Used in synergy, they were very effective on me.

And finally, don't forget that removing stress permanently is not possible. But you can improve the management of it using the methods I mentioned =)

Thank you for reading me :D

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