9 Ways to Find Your Calm and Beat Stress | W Network

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9 Ways to Find Your Calm and Beat Stress

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Jamie Jacques

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July 2, 2014

Stress can be a lot like an ex: showing up in unexpected places and at inopportune times. It's taken us a few years, but we've learned that taking care of ourselves first makes everything (and everyone) that comes after, a lot easier. Here are some tips to help your protect yourself:

1. Walk
Sometimes it's the last thing we want to do, especially after a long day at work, but it's the most accessible and effective stress buster, both immediately and in the long run. Get your heart rate going, drink in the fresh air and remind your muscles that you intend to use them. Deadlocked muscles don't perform well when they are suddenly called to task, so make sure you keep them in practice. If you can squeeze this in during the day, awesome. 

2. Swim
Swimming and water aerobics offer 12 times the resistance and 90 percent less gravity than a regular aerobics class. My friend calls it the workout that's not a workout: a low impact exercise that is easy on your joints and helps you lose weight and tone. Swimming is unparalleled in it's ability to relax the body and mind and ease you into a great night's sleep.

3. Go for a Massage
Sometimes women get into the habit of thinking if they don't have a partner to treat them to a much needed massage then they should just go without. Not true. With the proliferation of massage clinics and professional massage therapists, finding a relaxing rub can be as easy as grabbing a sandwich for lunch. And if you have benefits, there's no excuse for letting them go to waste. Try it once, and you'll be hooked!

4. Acupuncture
This is a great example of preventative action for stress-related injuries. When life becomes hectic, a trip to an acupuncture practitioner can strengthen the entire body and provide mental clarity. Don't be fooled by our western concept of needles; they may look menacing but they are mild. Find an acupuncturist in Canada here. Bonus: This is now covered by most benefit plans and often available at a sliding scale.

5. Stretch
All too often we become totally disconnected from the body, especially those of us who sit at a desk all day. Make a habit of getting up at least every hour to stretch your muscles, paying special attention to your wrists, arms and shoulders. Some of the benefits of stretching include increased energy, better circulation, reduced muscle tension, and improved posture and relaxation. Stretching comes naturally, it can be done anywhere and it feels good!

6. Tap Breathing
Stress can often result in digestive problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. Aside from maintaining a healthy diet, it is important to adopt good breathing habits. Practice breathing deeply through the nose, expanding the belly completely, and exhaling until all of the air is completely released. This not only calms a racing mind but circulates fresh oxygen throughout the digestive organs, helping them to function better. This means you can spend less energy. Next time you feel at the tipping point, tap your hand and breathe slowly to the tapping.

7. Sleep
Our cells regenerate while we sleep, so that we can maintain a strong body and a sharp mind during the day. One big mistake many women make during stressful times is to sacrifice sleep for work or family. The results are never pretty: mood swings, difficulty making the right decisions and decreased energy, all of which exacerbate a high stress situation even more. Maintain regular sleeping patterns and your body will thank you. (We know it's hard.)

8. Have Sex
It's the one activity that incorporates all the top stress busters: deep breathing, touch and massage, physical activity, and intimacy. Stress and its closest friends anxiety and depression don't stand a chance against the languid limbs of a satisfied lover.

9. Meditation
If sex isn't an option then yoga, tai chi, or qi gong are all wonderful alternatives. These are physical activities that calm both the body and the mind. Regular practice will keep your limbs agile and resilient, with the added bonus of perfect posture and increased focus. Look for meet-up groups in your city if you need guidance and just want to try it out.