13 Proven Ways to Rescue Yourself from Stress

13 Proven Ways to Rescue Yourself From Stress & Take Back Your Groove

You’re clenching your teeth hard but you don’t even realize it until it’s too late and your jaw is aching and you’ve got a headache. Your life is out of control. You can’t keep up and you can’t see a way out.

Bad things are going to happen—you just know it.

You’re jumpy, irritable and short fused. It’s no wonder you can’t sleep at night. All you can think about is being miserable and all the work that’s piled up and the problems at home that aren’t going away.

You wish you could shake off the unsteady feeling and the sense of doom.

The racing heart isn’t helping you.

Your friends and family seem to be getting tired of listening to your complaints and talking you off the ledge. You can still remember when you weren’t so stressed and wonder how to stop feeling this way.

You can rescue yourself!

Try these 13 tips designed to end stress and restore your groove.

1.  Shake & Dance

You’ve got to try this.

It will take only 10 minutes of your time. Turn on some rhythmic music. Begin by shaking your whole body from your feet, through your knees, hips and shoulders and to your chest. Shake strongly. Let your shoulders relax, your jaw hang open and your head go.

Do this for 5 minutes. You’ll feel silly but don’t stop or slow down.

Then stop. Pay attention to your breathing and body. Take deep belly breaths for 1-2 minutes.

Next, turn up the music for dancing. Dance freely for 3-5 minutes. Try to select an upbeat song. Finally, relax for a few minutes at the end.

Be honest. You’re not sure about this one.

But, shaking and dancing will fix your stress problem! To read more about this, check out “Unstuck-Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey Out of Depression” by James S. Gordon, MD. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Form Victory Arms

You’ll like this easy one.

It’s a great stress rescue and takes only a minute. You can try it right now. Extend your arms over your head in the shape of a V and form V’s with your fingers.

Smile.

Sense the change in your body (all sorts of good physiological things are happening to you right now!). You feel better already, right?

You can use this as a rescue when your boss says something unpleasant or you’ve burned dinner, again, or you’re late and stuck in traffic. It works.

3. Journal with Your Non-Dominant Hand

This one is great if you’re stuck in a thought and can’t seem to get out of the “do loop”.

Pick up a pad and a pen and begin to journal with your non-dominant hand.

Yes, it’s hard but don’t worry about whether it’s legible.

The purpose is to write about what comes to mind not worrying too much about the topic or flow. Using your non-dominant hand means that you’re tapping into a different part of your brain. You’ll be surprised at what comes up for you.

And, when it’s complete, you’ll feel better.

4. Look at Baby Animal Pictures

This one may seem a bit weird, but if you’re feeling stressed AND angry, it’s for you. Google baby animal pictures and take a look. Try baby giraffes, koalas, bears, monkeys and goats. Puppies and kittens are also effective.

Why does this work?

It’s impossible to feel stressed and angry when you are feeling compassion and love. It’s that simple.

What are you waiting for?

5. Try Laughter Yoga

You probably know that laughing is a good stress reducer, but you don’t have anything to laugh about.

Or do you? Try Laughter Yoga. Yes, it’s a real thing. Google it and give it a try.

Laughter Yoga is a practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter. Even though it’s voluntary, you still benefit from the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.

You may even start laughing spontaneously when you watch the videos of people practicing this form of yoga.

So, you don’t have anything to lose, right?

6. Sing Loud

You’ve probably practiced this one before without knowing it. Singing at the top of your lungs is great for reducing stress. It helps reset your nervous system.

Give it a try.

Your car or shower are great places to belt it out. See if you feel more relaxed afterward.

7. Think About Rule Number 6

Occasionally, you need a gentle reminder to relax which is what Rule Number 6 is all about. Rule Number 6 is simple.

Don’t Take Yourself So Damn Seriously.

And, what about Rules 1-5? There are no other rules.

You may want to place some post-it notes on your computer monitor or your mirror. It helps.

8. Try Alternate Nostril Breathing

You’ve probably read lots of ways to reduce stress by breathing.

Have you tried alternate nostril breathing? Didn’t think so.

Here’s how you do it.

While sitting comfortably, place the tip of the index finger and middle finger of your right hand in between the eyebrows, the ring finger and little finger on the left nostril and the thumb on the right nostril. You will use the ring finger and little finger to open or close the left nostril and thumb for the right nostril.

You’ve just completed the hardest part. The rest is easy.

Now press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril. Now breathe in from the left nostril and then press the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger. So, basically, you’re breathing in from one nostril and out through the other. After every exhale, breathe in from the same nostril.  Use slow, smooth breaths without force or effort. There are some good videos online if you need help.

Complete 9 rounds. You’ll notice a difference.

9. Get Outside & Find Something New

You know how much better you feel when you’ve been in nature. You can use this when you’re feeling stressed.

It’s simple. Step outside and find three things you’ve never noticed before. You may notice how delicate the leaves are on a plant or you may hear the chatter of the squirrels. Simply noticing will have a magical effect.

After a while, you’ll also notice that you’ve broken the spell you’ve been under, which is a good thing.

10. Turn on Your Compassion

This one is a real winner when your stress is caused by frustration with others. You simply remind yourself that “everyone is doing the best that they can with their current level of awareness, skills and knowledge”.

Why does this work?

It creates more compassionate thoughts about others, so you can relax.

If you think about it, awareness, skills and knowledge covers just about everything, so you’ll be hard pressed to find a situation where this doesn’t apply.

So, if you are feeling stressed because someone is working against you, then remember that they lack awareness and are doing their best with the awareness that they have. If they had better awareness, then they wouldn’t be thwarting your efforts, right?

Give it a try.

And, try strategically placed post-it notes with the acronym ASK (awareness, skills, knowledge) as a reminder.

11. Soothe With Healing Music

Sometimes the best thing to do when you’re stressed is to plug-in your ear buds and listen to some tunes.

For something new and different, try Chakra Chants by Jonathan Goldman. It won an award for the Best Healing-Meditation Album and you’ll see why.

You cannot be stressed while listening to this music.

Period.

12. Picture Yourself Safe & Calm

If you’re anxious about a meeting or confrontation, try visualizing yourself surrounded by a protective covering. It could be an egg protecting you or a bright soothing light that is impenetrable. Whatever works best for you.

Can you picture yourself handling that difficult situation better now? After all, you’re nicely protected.

You’re all set, right?

13. Talk Back to Your Negative Thoughts

This last one is your key to your future well-being. You can read more about this in Dr. Amen’s book called Magnificent Mind at Any Age. In his book, Dr. Amen describes ANTS or automatic negative thoughts.

You and everybody you know has negative thoughts. The problem occurs when you have too many, unrelenting negative thoughts. These thoughts can rob you of your joy in life.

You’ve noticed that these ANTS tend to multiple, right? It’s okay because you can get rid of them with just a bit of work and the right tools.

Here’s what Dr. Amen recommends:

When you feel nervous, sad, or mad, write out the automatic negative thoughts in your mind. Evaluate whether or not they are true. If they are not true (and so often they aren’t), then talk back to them. You do not have to believe or accept every thought you have.

Thoughts lie.

You’re probably thinking that you cannot stop all the thoughts, which is true, but think about this quote.

“You can’t empty your mind of thoughts. You might as well try to empty the ocean of its water. Thoughts just keep coming back, it seems. That’s the way of it. But thoughts aren’t a problem if they’re met with understanding.” Byron Katie

So how do you meet your thoughts with understanding?

Pick up a pen, piece of paper and start talking back.

And, by doing so, you will reclaim your thoughts and your life…and get your groove back.

One Parting Quote

Good enough is the new perfect

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Gluten Allergy? Avoid These Four Mistakes

Gluten Allergy? Avoid These Four Mistakes

You used to eat anything and not worry about it. Pizza, hoagies, pasta, hamburgers were all part of your daily life. Oh and don’t forget garlic bread and bagels. When you found out that you couldn’t eat gluten any more, you were numb.

Going to a restaurant used to be pleasurable, but now you find it stressful. Your goal is to not get “glutened”. And, you worry about causing a scene.

Some of your friends are embarrassed to dine with you. They tell you that you have become like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally when she orders the salad and the pie a la mode. You remember the scene in the movie, the waitress’ eye roll and thinking that you’d never do anything like that.

Yet, here you are.

So, how do you enjoy eating again? Learn how to avoid these four mistakes.

Mistake #1 – Not Getting the Waiter on Your Side and Using the Allergy Word

If you’re like most people, you order your meal specifying gluten-free and hope for the best. You’re making a mistake though by not fully engaging your waiter.

Try this new approach:

First, discreetly call the waiter to your side and quietly take them into your confidence by explaining your allergy. You can try this opener… “I’m sorry but I am going to be your worst nightmare today – I’m the dreaded gluten-free nut”. This starts to build a rapport. A scan of their face will let you know where you stand.

Then, assess their desire to be helpful. Body language is very important–looking away, eye rolls are not good while leaning in is good. Some might even start rattling off which items are safe and which can be made to order. If you get the blank stare or the “well, the such-and-such should be okay because it doesn’t have any oil or sugar” then you know you’re in trouble.

At this point, you move into the pleading stage. Try this line. “Is there any way, you could ask the chef if…..” and ensure that they know you’ll be very grateful for keeping you safe.

Always say you have a gluten allergy instead of saying gluten-free, so you are not confused with people who are simply trying to cut back. If you become ill in some way from eating gluten, then you have the right to say gluten allergy. It gets more attention because there’s a liability involved.

So, avoid mistake #1. Befriend the waiter and use the words “gluten allergy” when ordering.

Mistake #2 – Not Checking Out The Restaurant In Advance

Check out the restaurant in advance. Just showing up and hoping that the restaurant can or wants to deal with you is a mistake. Start with their website. See what they have to say about being gluten-free friendly. When you call to make a reservation, you should advise about your gluten allergy.

Using OpenTable to make reservations is a great way to get good gluten-free service. Fill out the special request section when making a reservation, and your allergy information will automatically transfer to any subsequent reservation. You’ll love this service. When you show up at the restaurant, the host/hostess acknowledges that you have a diner with allergies, and the waiter also has the same information.

What could be better? Everyone is forewarned and you’ll be cared for.

Mistake #3 – Not Being Strategic About Your Order

Many restaurants offer gluten-free menu options where regular items can be made gluten-free. Some of these menu items should be avoided. If you order something that needs to be “adjusted” in the kitchen, then you’ll have to rely on the kitchen to get it right. That’s A LOT of trust to put in people who are busy trying to feed other people.

To be smart about what you order, think about whether you’ll be able to tell if the kitchen got the substitutions right.

A gluten-free bun is pretty easy to spot, but could you tell if your fish was breaded in rice flour or wheat flour? Didn’t think so.

So, order strategically. Think about whether you can be sure your meal is safe.

Mistake #4 – Not Knowing “The List”

The List is all the stuff that has gluten in it that you would never expect. You’ll make fewer mistakes once you’ve mastered the list. Many are surprising and some are just downright disappointing.

But, hey, it’s better to know, right?

Here’s The List:

  • Bacon – It can be cured in gluten. Very distressing.
  • Wasabi – Apparently, some Japanese restaurants use powdered wasabi that has gluten.
  • Miso Soup – Traditional miso soup does not contain gluten, but some Japanese restaurants are putting soy sauce in the miso soup so don’t eat it.
  • Tortilla Chips – There are two issues here. Some can be dusted with flour or corn tortillas can be cooked in oil that has been contaminated with wheat flour. Either way, it’s bad.
  • Licorice – You can find gluten-free licorice but what you find in the stores you can’t eat.
  • Oatmeal – A lively internet debate is occurring about oats and oatmeal. Do yourself a favor, don’t eat it unless the package says certified gluten-free.
  • Cocktail Sauce – So, you may have thought that shrimp cocktail was safe, but somehow, somebody was able to sneak gluten into some sauces. You have to be careful with prepared horseradish sauces. Be sure to buy the ones that are labeled gluten-free.
  • Shrimp (or any seafood) Steamed in Beer – If you order shrimp, ensure that they were steamed without beer or use GF beer.
  • Marinated Meat – Avoid marinated meat unless you can be sure of the marinade ingredients. Marinated meat is typically not gluten-free.
  • BBQ Sauce – Many sauces contain soy sauce which is no good.
  • Deli Meats, Sausages, Hot Dogs – Unless it’s labeled gluten-free, avoid these meats.
  • Wild Rice Mix – Some contain gluten, so while rice is okay, it’s the mix ingredients you need to evaluate.
  • Cooking Spray – Yes, your cooking spray could contain gluten. Check it out.
  • Flavored Tea – It might contain barley malt flavoring.

Other helpful tips:

1. Use “Find Me Gluten Free” App – Available for iPhone and Android phones. You’ll love this app. Simply put in your location and find restaurants with gluten-free menus, gluten-free options and honest reviews by people like you, so you’ll know which restaurants to avoid.

This App has made travel SO much easier.

2. Gluten Digest Supplement – The supplement doesn’t allow you to eat gluten with impunity, but it does lessen the impact. Try Pure Encapsulations Gluten/Dairy Digest. You’ll need to find a professional supplement store because this isn’t available at your local grocer.

This is not medical advice.

3. Travel with Celiac Travel Cards – If you’re travelling abroad and your second language is not up to the task of explaining your allergies, print out cards with the information and hand them out to the wait staff. You’ll discover that using these cards is an entirely different experience from explaining it in the States.

The card is taken seriously.

Many (befriended) waiters will take the card back to the kitchen to share with the chef. Carry several copies in your wallet or handbag. They are even available in Greek. Check out Celiac Travel Cards.

What are your tips for eating gluten-free?

How to Use 21st Century Medicine to Heal From Chronic Illness

How to Use 21st Century Medicine to Heal Your Chronic Illness

Maybe it’s happened to you too. You’ve left another doctor’s office without resolution to your problem. The prescription in your pocket is destined for the trash.

You feel abandoned. You try not to picture your future. How many more times will you go to the well and come back with an empty glass?

So, what do you do?

20th century medicine has failed you, repeatedly.

Try 21st century medicine. Find a physician who has been trained in functional medicine on top of their traditional medical school training.

What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is state of the art medicine for chronic disease. It focuses on you and not the disease.

Here’s the key point to functional medicine:

A functional medicine practitioner will strive to find the root cause of dysfunction and not just treat your symptoms.

Be honest.

You can’t remember the last time a physician spoke to you about finding the root cause, can you?

To find the root cause, functional medicine addresses you as a whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms.

Here’s a good example.

Say you have gastrointestinal problems, migraines and fatigue. A traditionally trained practitioner might send you to a gastroenterologist (because they don’t know how the gut operates), prescribe a pharmaceutical drug for your migraines and some other band-aid treatment for your fatigue.

A functional medicine-trained practitioner will take a different approach.

Since they are equipped to treat you as a whole person, they will address the root causes of these symptoms, frequently without referrals or their prescription pad. Your practitioner will strive to understand what’s driving your migraines, gut dysfunction and fatigue.

They will see you as a whole system with related parts and not pieces to be farmed out to other doctors.

Makes a lot of sense, right?

What Makes Functional Medicine Practitioners So Special & Effective

Functional medicine practitioners actually listen to you!

Admit it.

You’ve probably been in doctors’ offices where they have one hand on the door knob as you’re trying to ask a question at the end of your ten minute appointment.

Unlike traditionally-trained doctors, these practitioners listen to your history and look at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence your long-term health and complex, chronic disease.

This is medicine that listens to you, and treats you as an individual.

Functional Medicine Uses Extensive Testing

Functional medicine is science-based and uses extensive laboratory testing. Instead of a one page blood work up report, your report will likely be 10+ pages and be filled with results you’ve never seen before.

Depending on your issues, you may have nutritional evaluation reports that show you where you are deficient in vitamins and minerals as well as adrenal function reports and so on.

You’ll wonder how your former practitioner treated you without these detailed “body system performance” reports.

Functional Medicine Requires Serious Work On Your Part

Practitioners use these laboratory tests and their interviews with you to develop your program which can include drugs and botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs or stress management techniques.

You probably realize what this means — lots of changes for you.

Once your practitioner has figured out the root causes of your issues, you’ll have to stop doing some things and start doing others like changing your diet, taking supplements and more.

You won’t have any problem being motivated because you’re strong.

After all, you’ve been living through hell and surviving, right?

The Benefits of Functional Medicine

What you’ll love about functional medicine:

  • Focus is on prevention
  • Treats underlying causes and not just symptoms which is critical because almost every complex, chronic disease is preceded by long-term disturbances in functionality (you probably didn’t get sick overnight)
  • Relies heavily on your story and participation; you and the practitioner are partners
  • Integrates Western medicine with the best alternative medicine providing many treatment options

A variety of practitioners including MDs and DOs can be certified by the Institute of Functional Medicine. You can find these practitioners on the functionalmedicine.org site under Find a Practitioner by zip code.

Admit it.  You’d like to get back to taking your health for granted again, right?

I’d Love To Hear From You

Have you seen a practitioner trained in functional medicine? What was your experience? Do you think that current approaches to chronic illnesses work?

Will You Stay in Touch?

When you’re not well for a long period of time, you can easily become isolated. Below are a couple of ways to help with that.

wellness quote

Stay in touch by following the Pinterest board – Vibrant Health – Chronic Illness. You’ll find lots of useful information especially about chronic fatigue.

And, sign up for The Zen of Pure Living 12 week email series.

Because let’s be honest.

You’ve got better things to do than to figure out how to keep your home healthy while you’re focusing on your health. You’d like to have it neatly presented to you without feeling overwhelmed.

You’ll learn how to clean up your water and indoor air, and why. How to redecorate without health consequences. How to clean with the safest products. Why you should dust more, what cooking oils to roast with, the safest and most effective personal care products and more.

So, sign up today because you’ll get just enough information to make you wise while maintaining your peace.

Sources:

Functionalmedicine.org, Institute of Functional Medicine