Dean Ornish, MD, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, has written six best-selling books, including Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease.
In this cutting edge research he demonstrates that making simple changes to what you eat, how often you exercise & how much you weigh can significantly 'put the brakes on heart disease,' and in some cases reverse it.
However, while exercise & diet are the essential building blocks to good health, dealing with the mental and emotional stresses in your life is central to any sustainable health care routine.
Re-shaping our conversation about stress
Professor Ian Robertson's groundbreaking research, The Stress Test, reveals that '... the right level of challenge and stress can help people to flourish and achieve more than they ever thought possible'.
While this revelation is incredibly inspiring, this can only be achieved if we realise that stress is actually a perfectly normal physiology response to what we perceive as dangerous. In other words, we are naturally wired to respond to an imminent threat.
However, learning how to re-shape challenges into opportunities and protect our health from the strain of ONGOING stress, requires practice and training.
8 ways to beat stress:
1/ Identify & manage triggers for stress, for instance diet, work overload, anxiety, lack of self- esteem, personal power issues.
2/ Identify the difference between healthy versus debilitating stress.
This will help you begin to turn stress to your advantage (stress for success).
3/ Adopt regular practices to beat the negative symptoms of stress, such as relaxation, healing visualisations, yoga or mindfulness.
4/ Stress can destroy relationships, so it is important to begin the journey of healing your relationships with family, friends, colleagues & community.
Seek help where necessary.
5/ Explore tools such as mindfulness to help you navigate through stressful situations.
6/ Explore how mindfulness can develop self awareness.
There is a lot of research currently considering how thoughts & emotions turn genes on and off, thus predisposing or exacerbating underlying health issues.
Self awareness empowers you to understand your own emotional profile and therefore make life-enhancing decisions that will have long-term health promoting benefits.
7/ 'Learn to let go', and move through change.
8/ Put a little bit of magic back into your life! Keep your eye on what brings you meaning and enjoyment.
One of the most powerful ways of turning stress into success is by practicing mindfulness.
The main source of our suffering stems from obsessive thinking / ruminating and the belief that we are the content of our thoughts.
Mindfulness helps us to be present & release negative thinking. It enables us to pause and observe the mind, rather than becoming caught up in the incessant stories that rattle around our head. This can have a significant impact upon our lives.
It can empower us to move forward & make clearer, more life-enhancing decisions, and eventually break the repetitive mind-body stress cycle.
Importantly, the art of mindfulness can help us identify when stress is moving beyond what would be regarded as healthy stress levels (experiences such as a bust of energy before an exam or competition), to debilitating anxiety, fear / many of the symptoms outlined in my previous blog.
Benefits of reducing stress:
Increased Physical and Mental Well-being.
More Rewarding Work-Life Balance.
Revitalised Energy & Productivity.
Clarity of Thought & A More Optimistic Outlook.
Confidence, Inspiration & A Renewed Sense of Purpose.
Stronger Emotional Resilience.
Commitment to Daily, Enjoyable Health Practices.
Improved Relationships .
5 Easy, Practical Ways to Alleviate Stress in Everyday Life:
1/ Fuel your morning with a healthy breakfast to balance blood sugars and to set the tone for the rest of the day.
2/ Be sure to include various proteins, good fats and a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables to keep your micronutrient needs in check.
3/ Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of fresh clean (filtered) water throughout the day.
4/ Exercise for 20-30 mins per day.
5/ Daily mindfulness meditation.