Practicing Even A Few Minutes Per Day Can Provide A Reserve Of Inner Calm
We all face stressful situations throughout our lives, ranging from minor annoyances like traffic jams to more serious worries, such as a loved one’s grave illness. No matter what the cause, stress floods your body with hormones. Your heart pounds, your breathing speeds up, and your muscles tense.
This so-called “stress response” is a normal reaction to threatening situations, honed in our prehistory to help us survive threats like an animal attack or a flood. Today, we rarely face these physical dangers, but challenging situations in daily life can set off the stress response. We can’t avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to. But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them.
One way is to invoke the “relaxation response,” through a technique first developed in the 1970s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson, editor of the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress. The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response. It’s a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways. With regular practice, you create a well of calm to dip into as the need arises.
Following are six relaxation techniques that can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress.
Sleepless Nights Try Stress Relief Techniques
In a recent national survey, 44 percent of adults said stress had causedsleepless nights at least once in the previous month. All that tossing,turning and staring at the ceiling can leave you feeling tired andmore stressed the next day. If youre caught in this vicious cycle ofanxiety and insomnia, theres good news: Simple stress relief techniquescan help you sleep better and feel calmer.
Social And Job Issues That Can Cause Stress
- Your surroundings. Living in an area where overcrowding, crime, pollution, or noise is a problem can create chronic stress.
- Your social situation. Not having enough money to cover your expenses, feeling lonely, or facing discrimination based on your race, gender, age, or sexual orientation can add stress to your life.
- Your job. Being unhappy with your work or finding your job too demanding can lead to chronic stress. Learn how to manage job stress.
- Unemployment. Losing your job or not being able to find work can also add to your stress level.
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Spend Time With Friends And Family
Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times.
Being part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times.
One study found that for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is called tend and befriend, and is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response .
Keep in mind that both men and women benefit from friendship.
Another study found that men and women with the fewest social connections were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety .
Having strong social ties may help you get through stressful times and lower your risk of anxiety.
Its hard to feel anxious when youre laughing. Its good for your health, and there are a few ways it may help relieve stress:
- Relieving your stress response.
- Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles.
In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood.
A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted (
Try watching a funny TV show or hanging out with friends who make you laugh.
Find the humor in everyday life, spend time with funny friends or watch a comedy show to help relieve stress.
Not all stressors are within your control, but some are.
One way to do this may be to say no more often.
Should You Take A Stress Leave From Work
Everyone knows that if you have the flu, you should stay home from work to recover and not spread the infection to your colleagues and friends. Its also clear that giving birth requires time off from work. But what about stress? Can you really take a stress leave from work?
You can, and sometimes taking a stress leave is the right thing to do. You may not see your situation strictly as needing a stress leave, but you may see it as experiencing burnout, anxiety, or depression. You need to apply for a leave of absence for any of these reasons in a similar way. Heres how you should approach making the request for a stress leave from work.
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How To Request A Stress Leave At Work
Rules for stress leave Ontario are not clearly defined. However, employers do allot days off for recuperating from stress. This varies by industry and employers. Start by understanding what your employment contract says about stress leave. Speak to your supervisor and human resources manager. If you are unsure of how to broach the subject, get in touch with a Toronto employment lawyer.
Can You Take Time Off Work For Mental Health
Yes, you can take time off for mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. If you consider you are struggling with your mental health then call and set up an appointment with your GP. After he/she has assessed your condition they can issue a fit note so you can take some time off to recover.
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Taking A Nap Can Help To Relieve Stress
A study showed that a quick nap can reduce stress and help to boost productivity. People experiencing a lack of sleep, as well as those who are overly stressed, may find the benefits of taking a 25-minute nap during the day highly beneficial. This is because napping has been shown to improve memory, creativity and problem-solving skills, as well as increase cognitive function for up to 45 minutes after waking up from the nap.
The news is filled with reports of how to reduce stress, and many people struggle to find the time or energy to implement these methods. However, taking a nap can help relieve some stress.
Napping for just twenty minutes can have significant effects on ones physical and mental health. Contrary to common belief, naps are not just for children, but adults need them too!
Time for a break? Research has found that taking a nap can help to relieve stress. Evidence suggests that the body produces more of the hormone melatonin when we sleep than when we are awake. A lack of melatonin can lead to sleep disorders and disrupt our natural circadian rhythm. Studies also show that napping is associated with increased memory and creativity in adults and children.
Taking a nap can help to relieve stress, and it is good for your health too.
How Do You Measure Your Stress Level
Sometimes it is clear where stress is coming from. You can count on stress during a major life change such as the death of a loved one, getting married, or having a baby. But other times it may not be so clear why you feel stressed.
It’s important to figure out what causes stress for you. Everyone feels and responds to stress differently. Tracking your stress may help. Get a notebook, and write down when something makes you feel stressed. Then write how you reacted and what you did to deal with the stress. Tracking your stress can help you find out what is causing your stress and how much stress you feel. Then you can take steps to reduce the stress or handle it better.
To find out how stressed you are right now, use this Interactive Tool: What Is Your Stress Level?
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How Do I Tell My Boss I Have Been Signed Off Work
After your GP has issued the fit note you may be wondering how is the best way to let your boss know. You can either chose to tell your HR department or your boss directly, it is entirely up to you. But some people chose to talk to their HR department mainly because they rather not talk about the details and avoid uncomfortable questioning.
You may feel scared or ashamed talking about your mental health but know you are not obliged to give too many details about it. But rest assured, this may not be the first time they are dealing with an employee who is off sick due to anxiety, stress or even depression.
What Do I Tell My Doctor To Get Stress Leave
Here are some key points you should remember when talking to your doctor about getting a stress leave:
Be honest and clear about your symptoms.
Be as detailed as possible, no symptom is too small or insignificant.
Listen to your doctors advice and try to follow them.
If needed, make sure to book any follow-up appointments for additional evaluation/assessment of your condition.
Mention the work-related triggers so your doctor can have a clear picture of your situation at work and how stress may be potentially affecting your work.
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How To Relieve Stress: Write It Down
When your mind is all over the place, organizing your thoughts into a quick to-do list can help transfer the burden from your brain to paper. But for some people, seeing a long list of tasks can increase stress. Miller has another idea: a stressor and action sheet. Fold a piece of paper in half lengthwise, and on the left column write stressor and on the right-hand column write action,’ she says. You will find as you write down thoughtful action steps to the things that are stressing you out, you regain authority over circumstance. These are the signs youre more stressed than you realize.
Appetite Changes And Weight Gain
Changes in appetite are common during times of stress.
When you feel stressed out, you may find yourself with no appetite at all or overeating without noticing.
One small 2006 study of 272 female college students found that 81 percent reported that they experienced changes in appetite when they were stressed out, with 62 percent stating they had an increase in appetite .
Changes in appetite may also cause fluctuations in weight during stressful periods. For example, a study involving 1,355 people in the United States found that stress was associated with weight gain in adults already living with extra weight .
A third study from 2017 found that individuals with higher cortisol and insulin levels and higher levels of chronic stress were more likely to gain weight in the future . However, the study was limited in the scope of research in that participants were predominantly white females.
While these studies show an association between stress and changes in appetite or weight, more studies are needed to understand other possible factors are involved and how stress impacts different people.
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What To Do When An Employee Being Signed Off With Stress Doesnt Want To Contact You
When an employee who was being signed off with stress doesnt want to go to the Sickness Absence Review meeting, you should reassure and make them employee be aware of the purpose of the meeting. You should tell him or her that the goal of the meeting is to know the causes of what made the stress.
You can also ask him or her if they will prefer having to talk to another member of the management team. If the employee chooses to be absent in the Sickness Absence Review meeting, he or she needs to have written proof from his or her medical professional on the credibility of his or her absence.
You can learn more about how absenteeism can affect the workplace by buying this book on this website.
Tip : Find Sensory Inspiration
Having trouble identifying sensory techniques that work for you? Look for inspiration around you, from your sights as you go about your day to memories from your past.
Memories. Think back to what you did as a child to calm down. If you had a blanket or stuffed toy, you might benefit from tactile stimulation. Try tying a textured scarf around your neck before an appointment or keeping a piece of soft suede in your pocket.
Watch others. Observing how others deal with stress can give you valuable insight. Baseball players often pop gum before going up to bat. Singers often chat up the crowd before performing. Ask people you know how they stay focused under pressure.
Parents. Think back to what your parents did to blow off steam. Did your mother feel more relaxed after a long walk? Did your father work in the yard after a hard day?
The power of imagination. Once drawing upon your sensory toolbox becomes habit, try simply imagining vivid sensations when stress strikes. The memory of your babys face will have the same calming or energizing effects on your brain as seeing her photo. When you can recall a strong sensation, youll never be without a quick stress relief tool.
Take a break from technology
Taking a short hiatus from the television, computer, and cell phone will give you insight on what your senses respond to best.
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Stress Relief Techniques To The Rescue
Activities that switch on the bodys natural relaxation response feel great, Buenaver says. And they have been proven by research to improve sleep. They help by reducing the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and by slowing your heart rate and breathing. Your body and mind calm down.
Yoga, tai chi and meditation are helpful stress relief techniques. So are these two simple exercises that Buenaver recommends to patients who are struggling with sleepless nights.
- In a quiet place, sit or lie down in a comfortable position. It may help to close your eyes.
- Breathe slowly in and out for about five minutes. As you inhale, breathe down into your belly. Focus on your breath.
- If youd like, repeat to yourself, Breathing in I am calm, breathing out I am coping.
Progressive muscle relaxation:
- In a quiet place, sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Take a few gentle breaths, in and out.
- Begin tensing groups of muscles one at a time as you breathe. Hold the tension as you inhale, then release it as you exhale. Take a few breaths as you notice how relaxed each muscle group feels.
- Start with the muscles in your head, neck and face. Move down to your shoulders, hands and arms, back, stomach, buttocks, thighs, calves and feet.
- Repeat for any areas that are still tense.
As you go through this exercise, feel the presence and absence of tension so you can spot lingering tension and do something about it, Buenaver says.
Chronic Stress: How To Get Rid Of It
Health & Fitness Expert, creator, Moving Free Technique, Certified ACSM Exercise Physiologist, Certified ACE Health Coach
Chronic stress. It’s everywhere. If you live and work on this planet it’s almost impossible to avoid.
Feeling stressed? Me too!
Today I’m writing about how to get rid of chronic stress and suggest some easy ways to get that burden off your back.To get us in the mood, let’s start with a short, guided meditation and stretch video. Try it with me and see for yourself. You can do this at home or at your desk at work.
Now that you’re a believer, lets have a look at chronic stress and how to get rid of it.
So what do we do about chronic stress? How do we get rid of it? How? Relax. That’s what my first yoga teacher used to say when I was all bent up in the pretzel pose with a grimace on my face. And, like that meditation you just did, it actually worked. Once I was able to relax, I was stress-free even in the pretzel pose.
Seriously, daily conscious relaxation exercises can make real difference in the way your body responds to stress. Dr Herbert Benson coined the phrase “relaxation response” in his book by the same name in 1975.
Dr. Benson suggests you practice some form of conscious relaxation for 10 to 20 minutes every day to get rid of chronic stress in the long-term.
But what if you’re pressed for time? Try this little exercise. Sometimes you only need a few seconds and you feel a lot better.Sit down and close your eyes.
For more by Mirabai Holland, .
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How Can I Ask My Doctor To Sign Me Off Work
If you are suffering from a significant level of stress, or other issues such as severe anxiety disorder, depression or other mental or physical health distress, you may be signed off work by your GP.
Your doctor will only give you a fit note if your health affects your fitness for work. The fit note is your property and you should keep it your employer can take a copy if they want one for their records.
If youre off work sick for 7 days or less, your employer should not ask for medical evidence that youve been ill. Instead, they can ask you to confirm that youve been ill. You can do this by filling in a form yourself when you return to work. This is called self-certification.
If youre off work sick for more than 7 days, your employer will usually ask for a fit note from a GP or hospital doctor. Fit notes are sometimes referred to as medical statements or a doctors note.
Your doctor cannot give you a fit note for nonmedical problems . They may, however, be able to suggest other sources of help.
If you need a fit note, contact your GP surgery. Or if you are getting hospital treatment, ask for one from your hospital doctor.
Your doctor will assess you, and if they decide your health affects your fitness for work, they can issue a fit note and advise either that:
- you are not fit for work
- you may be fit for work taking into account the following advice