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Low Impact living

Lowering Stress

Keeping Healthy is made up of a number of things.As they say, its mind body and spirit!

Keeping healthy is in what you eat, drink or can be external factors , such as in the products that you use. I don’t think for an overall wellness, you can take one part of your life on it’s own, it is a combination of all these things. It is one of the reasons, that I wanted to cover some things that I have come across in STRESS. It is around all of us , and how you are affected can vary so much. Everyone is an individual, and the factors that we all face, will depend on our circumstances and how we approach those situations. How we manage stress is a factor in how we cope with life, and the enjoyment of living.

Stress is such a huge factor in our lives today. It can be caused by so many things, and just normal day to day living. Whether it is money related, job or housing. Families,health issues, for yourself or family and friends, the list is endless and each person has their own take on what can cause stress in their lives.

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The way everyone deals with this problem, and what works for you is so individual. Sleep is an issue that many people struggle with too. I cant say counting sheep has ever worked for me!

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My husband Alex, has really taken to using a meditation podcast , just before sleep, to clear his mind and relax totally, ” his ommmm mmmm tape!” it really works for him. He uses a Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation. This was with Oprah as a free trial.

SLEEP

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They reckon that the average adult needs between 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Our 16 yrs old daughter should have about 8-10 hours per night. If you have a teenager, you know how difficult it is to get them to go to bed in the evening. She is a bit of a night owl, and would prefer to lie in in the morning. I think the quality bit is really important. If you have a disturbed nights sleep, it can effect your day. This article written by Help Guide .org has a load of myths that most of us have heard before, such as catching up with sleep over the weekend. They have a 10 point list to tell if you are sleep deprived. How many of these, could most of us say yes to! The NCBI has some really informative reasons why sleep is so important to our well being, the health factors, are enormous from increased Stress, quality of life, to long term consequences ”  include hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, weight-related issues, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and colorectal cancer.” (from article.) Start Sleeping.org have some other areas that may help you in this too.

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KIWI FRUIT- can these lovely fruit help you sleep better? I first came across this as a possibility in a TV program investigating better sleep patterns without using drugs. It was a fascinating idea that these power packed fruit could help with your bedtime routine. They have more on this on The Sleep Doctor.com It has to be worth a try, before trying a drug. In the TV program, a lady who had been using drugs to aid her sleep pattern for many years, was able to get rid of all of the drugs with a more natural approach, one of these was using Kiwi, eating two of these fruit before going to bed. A Link here for the BBC

Healthline have 9 different natural things to help you sleep, all these are backed by science. Such items as Magnesium ( I found a lovely sounding cream made by the Bumble Bee Apothecary, Marisa the owner, has given the recipe but also sells these products. She says that this cream also aids stress.) Valerian root, Lavender, Passion flower, Melatonin and some other ideas, they helpfully give some of the side effects of these too.

The problem is that our brains are just not having that wind down time just before bed. How many of us are still checking our phones or the internet before we try and switch off. So many children have these distractions in their bedrooms,maybe some game they just have to finish, or a text message. Or some program or film they have become engrossed in. SCIENCE NEWS FOR STUDENTS , explain about the many problems with Blue light effecting our sleep patterns.It can effect your internal clock, causing problems with a peaceful sleep. It leaves you feeling half asleep when you wake, taking longer to start your day with some energy.

Some ways to aid that wind down, could be things such asMindfulness and meditation, this link gives some sense of the difference between these two. They explain about the importance of bringing your mind to the present and not focusing on the negative. I have been a late comer to this information, but you can truly see the great difference that they make to peoples lives.

These are such a huge area, I will put some ideas on this below.

How Men and Women deal with stress can be so different too.

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Men can often have their “caves” I had some understanding about this after reading, I think it was the book Men are from Mars Women from Venus by John Gray

I read that book years ago, but certain things have stuck in my mind from the book. A man’s cave can be anything from their shed, fishing, their den ,or just some place that they can switch off, to think or relax, probably somewhere they don’t get asked to do something!

I think it can be a little different for women, often with the pressures of working, and maybe children taking up their time.The household tasks which appear everyday. It never ceases to amaze me, I finish the washing and ironing and turn around and the basket is full again! Where it appears from I have no idea! I have also said to my family, if they didn’t eat, I would have so much more time to get things done.

RE-WIRING YOUR BRAIN

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This is a fantastic way to refresh ourselves and start afresh with a new perspective. It can take 6 weeks of doing the same action to retrain our brains into forming new pathways to improve our lives.Find ways to stop the ruts that we have found ourselves in. Question what we want from life, how to question what we are and what we can become. You just have to battle with doing the same thing for six weeks, a good bargain! to become what you would really like to be.

WAYS TO RELAX , SWITCH OFF AND ALSO HAVE SOME FUN

Finding ways to relax quickly if you don’t have much time is important. Mind the idea of a deep bubble bath or even better a Jacuzzi would be great. That’s if you can keep the kids from shouting through the door for something!

Using Water to help you relax

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Being near water has often been associated with relaxation and feelings of calm. Walking by the sea, river or near a lake, giving you a sense of well being. Even sitting near a pool on holiday gives a wonderful sense of relaxation and de-stressing. Mind the holiday doesn’t hurt either!

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Years ago doctors used to prescribe the sea air for your health.

The Victorians often went to” take the waters”, beautiful places sprung up in Brighton and Bath ( that was to drink the springs, the smell of sulphur gives me memories of trying this in Bath ,Yuk! )I know we can’t always get to a river or the sea. Maybe there is a lake near you, or a reservoir, we are lucky to have a few near us. One of the things I love in France is that they have swimming lakes here, they import a sandy beach, and have cafes near by to enjoy the wonderful space. Absolutely beautiful!

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Maybe by changing part of your garden with a water fountain, or having a green space in your home with an internal fountain like these, with some plants known for the air quality they can give us.

Fountains are becoming even more popular for inside and outside the home. The Spanish homes with the beautiful courtyards and fountains are stunning. The water features are one of the most beautiful spaces in Palaces like the ALHAMBRA in Spain.

(Though the tinkle of water can make you want to go to the bathroom a lot . We used to use this method in a hospital I worked in with patients having problems using the bathroom! )

GARDENS & GREEN SPACE

Gardens are very important to giving a sense of well being, having nature around us, even if it is a small space or just some plant pots. Maybe you are lucky enough to have a park or lake near you. Or a country walk. Life can get in the way sometimes from allowing us to take the time just to walk. Using this time to using your breathing techniques.

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One of the homes I lived in, really didn’t have much of a garden space, but it was still incredibly relaxing , sitting among loads of plant pots with a nice comfortably chair or if you are lucky, maybe a hammock? Even better with some sort of water feature. It was easy to maintain too, which was great, especially as we had dogs.

I think everyone needs a quiet place to unwind.

Where we are living now we have been blessed with some land ,and a great view of the valley and a little bit of heaven some days ,when it is clear and you can see the Pyrenees mountains.

I see my parents unwinding here which is a total blessing. I hope that I can find some solutions for you, with some ideas on how you can make some changes in your environment to bring some relaxation and a peaceful space.

IDEAS FOR CREATING A PERSONAL GREEN SPACE

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This picture reminds me of a lot of the french homes near us with the shaded space, wonderful, a great place to unwind.

It can be a simple idea, just to create a place with some plants or seating, a screen to give you some privacy. We had some great neighbours in our previous home, it is good to have that mix of friends and privacy.

WALKING AND EXERCISE

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I guess we all know how good exercise is for us, walking is amazing for a clarity of mind, breathing exercises and just absorbing nature and breathing fresh air. If you can walk near water, even better. We have some beautiful lakes near us, it is very calming for your sense of well being.

Healthline have some great exercises for breathing, visualisation ” finding your happy space”. How to relax your muscles. I remember being taught these when I was expecting my children, they are more powerful than you imagine. So great for pain relief too. I found them better than a Tens machine I tried. ( info on link from Medical News Today) I have had friends who thought that they were great, everyone is so different,and what works for some people is different for everyone. We rented ours but you can find some different ones here. If you are in constant pain, of course that can cause stress too.

Health.com Have a whole list of activities that can help with your anxiety or stress levels, using running as a way to release feel good factors. It can help improve your mind and body at the same time. Never mind the positive effect of toning your body, so that you can get into your favourite jeans!

They also suggest Hiking as a good way to exercise. I find for me that if I am occupied in doing something I love, whether that it is walking in nature or dancing to some salsa music, you can exercise without realising it. My daughter and I have started walking down our lovely country roads, just viewing the countryside, looking at different styles of homes and the amazing gardens that the French seem to do so well. It starts as a simple walk, until you realise that you have been walking for a few hours.

FINDING AN EXERCISE THAT YOU WILL LOVE

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The wonderful thing about exercising , is that there is so many to chose from.

Whether it is swimming, cycling, tennis , running, alone or with a crowd of people in a charity race. There is boxing, or kick boxing to allow you to get rid of frustrations. There are so many marshal arts available, which other than the exercise can help with your movements, breathing and focus. ( though I did try judo when I was still in school, I really thought I was getting into it! I have to admit not being too keen on the being thrown bit, as I got so winded at one point I couldn’t speak! Or the time that the belt went tight up between my legs! I leave the rest of that to your imagination! OW! or the time that I was fighting with a particularly hairy chested bloke, it was like fighting with a rug! YUK).

There are a ton of clubs or associations out there where you can find something that interests you.

TAPPING

I have had a few friends who really swear by this method of de-stressing . I have seen that this method, is useful for all sorts of conditions, even for weight loss. The Tapping Solution .com have a huge variety of ways this could help different aspects of your life. These methods are to help you re- wire your brain. I have seen people suggest that it is good for weight loss too. I really need to get into this one.

YOGA

Yoga is something that I have only recently gotten into. So I am just a beginner in all this. I have used Pilates which has some similar moves, which made me feel as if it wasn’t too different. Maybe I could understand some of the moves.

Finding a good class is important, where you can be sure to get the correct instruction and not being put into positions that you are not ready for.I have a good friend who has been doing Yoga for some years, even she had certain issues with one class where she felt she had moved incorrectly. Once you are in the rhythm the relaxation starts to work through your body. The feel good factor afterwards is wonderful. My daughter and I have tried numerous ones on YouTube too, they are a good start, though I felt more comfortable trying them after the previous lessons in Pilates.

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If you have ever wondered what the difference is between Pilates and Yoga, there is a easy to read guide on Energy Pilates Fitness.com

I always wondered if one was better than the other. I guess it depends what you want to achieve at the end of it. I think that Yoga is more for the mind, and Pilates whole body. Whichever you choose, it may help with your stress levels. It is worth trying both to see what suits you best.

YOGA JOURNAL .COM have some simple poses that you can do for stress management with easy to follow pictures of each step, which is really helpful if you are new to this, like myself.

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TAI CHI

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This form of exercise has always fascinated me. It looks so soothing and meditative. The flexibility of the people using this form of exercise is amazing. The age of the Chinese people I have seen on TV programs is inspiring. The fact that you don’t need any special equipment, using nature around you must be so relaxing. Amazing for breathing, flexibility and balance. As with all things check with your doctor if you have any health issues. This video seems to have a lot of positive vibes. She has many other videos that you can progress with the process.

MINDFULNESS

The first thing I heard about this was through a very dear friend, Jayne Gumpel ( her linked in Profile here ) who has her own practice in NY. She is totally amazing and she and her son also help children in schools to have an understanding of using Mindfulness to help themselves, this in turn helps them to cope in school.

There are some links here if you would like some information. MBSR – France . This is a Mindfulness based stress reduction association. These are everywhere. The UK based one is here. The NY one is here All give some great information on how to go forward, also if you have an interest in becoming a teacher in this.

This little video , shows quite clearly the benefits that Mindfulness and mediation can have on your daily life. One of the benefits to this is being able to focus your attention on the present. It is amazing how much mental clutter we carry around with us. Its like having a clogged up pipe not allowing our thoughts to flow properly. Getting rid of Stress and Anxiety . How can we become creative and enjoy our lives with these worries holding us back?

LAUGHTER

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This is great stress busting medicine. It helps so many parts of your body and mind. The Mayo Clinic explain the changes that this can make to you.They think that the long term effects on your immune system and even helping with pain relief! That is such a fantastic benefit.

We have a lot of humour in our home, you always feel better after a good giggle.

Sometimes the funniest thing can be a simple advertisement, we have one in our home which is guaranteed to to make my husband and daughter laugh, it is a simple coffee advert, but on schedule one scene gets them every time.

We love movies that have humour in them too. Whatever makes you giggle is worth having nearby for when you are feeling down.

The Robin Williams film “Patch Adams” where a Dr, used laughter to help people heal. Based on a true story of the founder of the Gesundheit Institute, a medical centre in West Virginia.

Growing up with my fun loving dad was the same. He was always ready to mess around. He was a practical joker too.

There are lots of ways to have a laugh, from books to movies and tv, my husband loves this site for their demotivational posters, called Despair.com They have taken all these very motivational pictures and given their own spin on them with a lot of humour.

Spending time laughing with your family is a great way to de -stress together. Watching a funny movie can change the atmosphere in your home very quickly.

As a family, we were watching a TV program concerning living abroad, “The Real Marigold Hotel,”one of the places these retirees went to was to a Laughter Yoga in India, it looked very different, but what a great way to get together to get healthier by laughter.

MUSIC

Using Music to help your stress levels can be a very powerful tool.

There is the simple method of just starting your morning, with an uplifting music to trigger your mood for the day. Using music to keep you company if you are alone in the house. While cooking or having a relaxing soak in the bath or shower. It can really change the mood you are in.

Music therapy is available , VERY WELL MIND has 7 ways of using Music for Stress Relief.

Available is the British Association for Music Therapy

Also Is the link For the American Site.

Music can help with muscle relaxation , slowing down your pulse, reducing your stress hormones and helping to reduce your blood pressure, if music can help you with all that, it must be better than having to take a pill.

Not everyone is a music fan, I have a very dear friend but she hates to have music on. Though meditation helps her to relax, it is different for everyone, whatever works for you.

This is a really long video , but it is looks like it has been very popular with over 19 million views, they have got a link where you can subscribe as well MEDITATION RELAX MUSIC, they have a link for sleep music too.

DANCING

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Dancing can be such a de-stressing activity, not only is music great for the soul, you have the exercise and being around people. This Video has over 51 million views, that must say something. That is Good for the soul!

It doesn’t matter where you dance, on your own until you gain some confidence or join a group. SEVERANCE MAG.com Explain how to dance away the Blues .For me dance has always been a mood lifter, I love Salsa Music, it just feels like life to me. Whatever dancing you enjoy is great. Just start small and work yourself up.

ART THERAPY

There are a huge amount of ways that you can incorporate Art Therapy into your daily life. There are many books on the subject, from written to the very intricate colouring books which seem to be very popular.

Visiting Art Gallery’s, if you are lucky enough to have them near you. My favourite one was in New York, The Met. An amazing place full of inspiration. Even the much smaller Art and Museum in Cardiff South Wales was a place to reflect and enjoy the art around you. We lived near Cardiff, the capital of Wales. A lovely city, full of interesting sites.

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Enjoying art can be something as personal as taking some paper and a pencil, or taking a class where you can learn and spend time with people of the same mind. I find I can really lose myself in a piece of art. The first 10 mins are where you start to relax, then taking the time to observe something and enjoy that situation. VERY WELL MIND.COM explain the benefits of using Art and the history of using art to heal minds. Noting over 13 ways that this can be very helpful.

I really have loved recently the Getty Museum who have had a wonderful Art challenge, where anybody can recreate a famous painting from home. I have loved just how creative people can be.

Art can be as simple as buying a colouring book for adults, which seem to be everywhere now. Get lost in some colour.

I love the street art, it is just amazing what someone can see in an everyday object. It makes you look deeper for forms and possibilities.

A friend of ours took it to another level and started to paint sunflowers on the side of her house in the garden. Truly beautiful.

DEEP BREATHING EXERCISES

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Breathing properly is something that you think would come naturally to us all. Help Guide.Org explains the best way to do this and the reasons why this is such a help to cope with stress.

I thought we were breathing OK, About a year or so ago, our daughter saw a Kinesiologists ( this explains what they do for you )near us and he showed her how to breath out deeply, by placing a ball on her stomach and pushing the ball up with her outward breath. If you try this, it is a totally different feeling to us breathing out normally, and we thought we knew what we were doing!

STRESS RELIEVING FOODS

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The one treat, that I heard that made my ears prick up was being able to eat chocolate ( small amounts) for the feel good factor. They suggest dark chocolate due to the flavonoids, My family would happily finish the bar, but they suggest eating it in moderation! It has more qualities than I thought, everything from being an antioxidant, also helping cognitive and moods.One report mentioned in the link below says it could also help lower your risk of strokes. As if I needed anymore encouragement! There has been a report mentioned also in this informative article by the HUFFINGTON POST They do mention there are some side effect to eating chocolate, weight gain, tooth decay and some trigger points for people with Migraine. I feel lucky that I haven’t been effected by that.

A good friend has an allergy to chocolate, you can find a substitute in Cacao Powder

Every Day Health.com have a list of foods that help with anxiety, from yogurt and whole grain cereals which help by using Serotonin to calm the brain.

NUTS

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Eating nuts has a huge amount of benefits Healthline have a list of 8 benefits from eating a variety of nuts , each one listed with the explanation listed too. One of the suggestions is that they can help with weight loss? wow. more on the article.

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Bananas – containing vitamin C, B6 and potassium and Folic Acid. They have a large amount of benefits for health, reducing stress, helping your digestive system and aiding heart health. Plus they are so good to eat! I had a friend who introduced me to some very small organic bananas which she sold in her organic shop in London. I couldn’t believe the difference in taste, they were delicious. My father is always telling us of stories when he was in the army, and was stationed abroad in Singapore, one of the Sargent majors wives had a garden with a banana tree in it, he said they were so tasty, this from the guy who hates bananas!

WATER

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Drinking plenty of water and keeping hydrated is also helpful.

They suggest that between 6-8 glasses of liquid a day is good, The BBC FOOD GUIDE explain the effect that just a small amount of dehydration has on our mental and physical condition. The amount you need can vary with age and size too. Children can be at risk of dehydration. Some times I think just handing them a drink every so many hours is easier, they get so caught up in other activities , they forget to drink.

CAN YOU DRINK TOO MUCH?

The current theory seems to be to listen to your own body and drink when you are thirsty. There have been some deaths of athletes who have drunk too much. I remember reading a few years back of an actor collapsing on stage from the same issue. They mention that at 60 years old we start to lose the mechanisms to tell us we are thirsty. Too much water can effect our sodium levels

WEBMD also give a slightly different take on this explaining the difference in climate and activity.

TEA

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The Whistling Kettle has an amazing choice of Tea, ranging from Green Tea . Teas containing  L-theanine( Medical news today) normally Black and Green Tea,which may aid Serotonin and Dopamine which can help with moods, sleep and stress. They have a huge array of teas with the helpful uses next to the descriptions.

Matcha Green Tea seems to be gaining in popularity at the moment, I have heard that it can contain more caffeine than normal Green Tea, there seems to be different ways in which you can enjoy drinking this tea, and different flavours.It supposed to be calming and have the benefits of antioxidants. Also supplying vitamins C, selenium, zinc, Magnesium and many other benefits.

Even the process of making tea can be therapeutic, thinking about the tea making process in Japan or the British thinking Tea cures all !

I have always preferred to drink Herbal teas or infusions, these can also be calming if you are using such infusions as Chamomile. Lemon Balm which can also support the nervous system.

Maca Root also called Peruvian Ginseng

This root they believe may be useful for helping depression as mentioned in Very Well Health. The powder can be added to smoothies, baked goods or eating as a vegetable. Finding these from a good organic supplier seems best.

USING HOBBIES TO COMBAT STRESS AND BRING IN SOME FUN

Hobbies can help lift your mood and bring relief to stress. There are so many ideas out there to help you make a decision on what you would like to try.

COOKING

I guess this one of my big ones, though at times it can feel like a chore.

I love to cook. Making bread is a great way to channel your frustrations. It doesn’t mind if you are a little rough with it.

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Being creative and pouring love into what you make for your family and friends has always been something I have enjoyed. I think this originally stemmed from my grandmother , every weekend all the family would gather together and eat, chat and laugh. She was an amazing cook, it was almost like going to a restaurant. I still try to remember the cakes that I helped her with as a child.

PAIN

I wasn’t sure whether to add this one here, but I think that maybe a short piece. Pain is very stressful, whether it is short lived or chronic. Pain makes it difficult for us to focus on anything, it can bring down our moods, trying to cope. For myself, migraine has always been an issue, and if you are in the middle of one of them, you really don’t feel like doing anything.

It can be anything from toothache to arthritis, to a life threatening illness. All have their own stresses , from worry about your health to worrying about your family or friends.

I would love people to be able to connect with me, and offer any suggestions that they have been able to find that work with this.

I did come across an app that you can put on your device that is suppose to help with pain. I am not sure how good these are?

The link is here for the Tens machine.

As above the idea of maybe using a Tens machine if that work for you?