There are a multitude of practices to incorporate relating to stress management, from rudimentary to complex.
Massage: This is something you can do on a weekly basis (mainly deep tissue and no less than 90 mins). Massages in which you are being stretched by the practitioner may benefit you the most. There are different kinds of electrical stimulating devices to deal with specific injury or to strengthen particular areas of the body.
Extreme heat: If regular Sauna use is not realistic, try to take very hot baths with full immersion, at approximately 48 degrees, twice a week. These baths can induce restful sleep provided you cool down properly first. Where possible take saunas 3 times per week. Sessions should last an hour; break at 15-20 mins and go back and try to tolerate the remaining time. Afterwards, extreme cold plunges or showers for 3 ½ minutes with a 10 minute break and repeated twice works wonders.
Meditation: Scientifically proven to help alleviate stress after eight weeks of a regular practice. Numerous studies have shown that meditation is an effective stress-management tool, reprogramming the brain to the extent that we end up with more capacity to manage stress. In training the mind to be more open and less reactive, we are better able to cope when life’s stresses.
Located deep within the brain’s limbic system sits the amygdala, tiny processing neurons that govern our senses, memories, decisions, and moods, our emotional thermostat. In evolutionary terms, the amygdala was a great help to our ancestors for assessing danger. In modern ages, it has been conditioned increasingly to respond to social stress in the same way (a pile of paperwork or a deadline could be, as far as the amygdala is concerned, as threatening as a wild animal). This disproportionate and irrational response happens the more stressed we get and our fight/flight response is activated. We train the amygdala to overreact until it can no longer regulate itself.
The drip, drip effect of stress reshapes the structure and neural pathways of our brain with neuroplasticity and our brains get reprogrammed by the experience they are continually subject to. That’s where meditation comes in – Studies involving MRI scans show the amygdala shrinks in response to meditation. As the amygdala reduces, the prefrontal cortex and areas of the brain governing awareness, becomes thicker. We are increasing our capacity to manage stress and be more aware, self-regulating the amygdala, helping it return to its baseline state and a more rational reaction to stress and fear. We build mental resilience through meditation.
Some more complex stress management strategies:
Flotation tanks: Float tanks are filled with Epsom salt and water that’s almost the same temperature as the human body, and allow no light or sound pollution, enabling you to float on the water’s surface, inducing deep states of relaxation. Float tanks may help lower cortisol levels, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and could help with things like hormone balance or immunity as well as the normalisation of digestive functions.
Ice Baths: If you are interested in longevity, you can quite easily place 30-40lbs of ice from the local shop in your bathtub. Immersion time is will be approximately 4-12 minutes . Ice baths can be alternated with cryotherapy which can be done several times per week and ice baths seem more effective than cryo for sports injuries.
Acupuncture: A relatively painless process involving stimulating certain points on the body using a variety of techniques, the most common being penetrating the skin with fine needles (which are then manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation). One of the oldest healing practices in the world, acupuncture is proven to help in recovery from muscular fatigue, over training and adrenal fatigue or management of muscle pain.
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