Lou Holtz once said, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
True to this statement, the way in which we handle struggles, obstacles, and stresses determines whether we overcome adversity or not.
Stress... at one time or another, creeps up on us. It's how we manage stress that determines if we will be able to live a balanced and focused life or if we will let it rule us and our emotions. From relationship pressures, to work frustrations, to health issues, and financial struggles - the list of life stressors could go on and on.
But did you know that by using sensory input to reduce stress, you're taking control of how your body responds to outside forces?
Here are my tips for using the five senses to combat stress:
Find beauty in life, look for it in the life that is already surrounding you. But, if you are struggling there, actively seek beauty. A great place to start is nature, enjoy a gorgeous sunset, hike to a waterfall, or even take a short walk where you purposefully look at life in a different way. You might be surprised at how changing your perspective can drastically alter your thoughts and make you less stressed.
Decorate your space, whether at home or at the office, with pictures/mementos of friends, family, pets, travel destinations. Take it a step further by using Mind Movies and the Subliminal Success Accelerator to reinforce the positive imagery. If you are able, paint the walls a soothing color and use plants to brighten up your area. Sometimes, just closing your eyes for a moment and using visualization techniques can make you feel more at peace and refreshed.
Have you ever noticed how music can alter your state of mind? It can get you amped for a big event, think of professional athletes that listen to music to get "in the zone" right before they perform. Music can also have the exact opposite effect and help people relax and fall asleep, think of a mother humming to her newborn baby to soothe the child into a calm state.
Pay attention to the sounds around you. Really listen. What do you hear? Spending time and listening to the sounds in nature can be a very relaxing experience. Figure out what sounds help you get mellow. Download them to your smartphone, if you can. Carry a small pair of headphones with you, so you can set the tempo of your own life when you need a music boost.
Choosing the right soundtrack to your life can not only keep you revved in the direction you're headed or inspired about what's to come, but it can also help you wind down and clear your mind. Realize that everyone has their OWN soundtrack. Sometimes, just finding a quiet space and meditating is the best solution!
Touch is a strong form of communication between people, but even simple forms of touch like the clothes you wear or a soft blanket you wrap yourself in can bring a great sense of comfort and relaxation.
Massages are one of my favorite stress-relievers, preferably from someone else, but if you can't enlist others, giving yourself a hand or neck massage is a good alternative. Moving around and doing a little yoga or stretching can also be a big help. Pet therapy is a great relaxer, and your dog or cat will get as much enjoyment out of it as you do.
Staying in touch with your world and the people around you helps maintain a sense of calm and keeps you grounded. Sometimes, a hug from a good friend is the best medicine!
Breathing deeply is a big-time stress reducer! People can get so wrapped up in the chaos of life, that breathing in and exhaling fully can be forgotten (thankfully, our subconscious takes care of this for us). Some smells can be reinvigorating, like coffee or tea aromas, fresh laundry, and orange peels.
Smell is the strongest sense tied to memory. Use that to your advantage and find smells that remind you of a happy time. Perhaps you can recapture the smell through a scented candle, perfume, lotion, lavender, or fresh flowers. Stopping to smell the roses may be a cliche, but taking a moment to pause and enjoy something good in your surroundings is the takeaway.
The food we eat has a huge impact on how we look and feel; it shouldn't be surprising that certain foods can also help lower stress levels. Pay attention to what you're eating - not only the taste, but the smell, texture, look, and portions should also always be in consideration. Experiment with a variety of foods, spices, and cuisines! Eat slowly and savor it!
Start the day off right by enjoying fresh fruits and juices with whole grains or scrambled eggs. Fresh or dried fruit, nuts, and pumpkin or sunflower seeds are also great options for snacks throughout the day to reduce stress. For lunch, try something light and easy like grilled chicken or fish with a green salad or veggies. Fish is a great stress reducer! Substituting even one cup of coffee or fizzy drink a day for water or herbal tea will also make a big impact. These foods help stabilize your system by providing fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
There are some foods (and drinks) I'm also suggesting that might surprise you: coffee, wine, dark chocolate, and I'm just going to say it, comfort food! Studies have found that all of these items can reduce stress, but the important thing to remember is they should be consumed in MODERATION.
Being one with your senses makes you aware of your surroundings and how they impact you. What do you do to relieve stress using your five senses? Share your tips with us in the comments below!
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*The Mind Movies team has updated this post on July 30th, 2018 to include the latest information for our readers.*
Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.