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7 Things I Do To Not Let Stress & Overwhelm Sneak In

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I come from a highly stressed, anxious, ‘go at a million miles per hour’ type family. Unconsciously, I had embedded these traits, habits and behaviours deep within myself. In fact, I'd made them such a prominent part of myself and my life that in 2010, I was hospitalised and on the brink of a nervous breakdown. On top of that, my immune system decided to pack up and go on holidays... It was quite the wake-up call.

For the past few years I have had to work really hard at implementing new habits to live in a stress-free, calm, peaceful space (both internally as well as externally). I’ve had to learn how to tame my inner Mean Girl and not let her run the show. The truth is, usually stress isn’t warranted and can be avoided with some conscious awareness.

Tune in with yourself and ask…

“What is making me feel stressed right now?”

Stress causes the release of adrenaline and cortisol in the body. This puts you into ‘fight or flight’ mode, preparing your body to respond to whatever triggered it. It's an incredibly effective protective mechanism if you happen to encounter a one-off life or death threat — like a sabre-tooth tiger or a burning building — but it is not a good state to exist in long term. While these stress hormones are an important and helpful part of the body’s response to danger, it’s vital that the body’s relaxation response be active so that it can return to homeostasis following a stressful event.

However, in today’s high-stress culture, often your stress levels don’t have enough time to recover and get back to normal. The down side is that having high levels of stress hormones — particularly cortisol — present for extended periods of time has been shown to be seriously detrimental to your immune system and your digestive tract. High stress levels cause negative reactions such as insomnia, inflammation and hormone imbalances, just to name a few. This is why, not only for our mental health but our physical health, we need to keep our stress levels down.

These are the 7 things I do daily to not let stress and overwhelm sneak in:

1. Meditation

Meditation is a great way to calm your mind and bring you back into the present moment. The best thing about it is… It’s free! You can do it anywhere at any time. All you need to do is sit cross-legged on a cushion or upright in your chair, car, bus, plane, park bench — anywhere. Make sure you are comfortable, with a straight spine and your chin tucked in. Your shoulders should be down and relaxed. Make sure you have turned your phone off and removed any distractions. Then, sit quietly and concentrate on your breathing. Slowly breathe in and out through your nose. Please note that thoughts will come into your mind when you sit still. But when they do, just gently let the thought go and bring your attention back to your breathing. Repeat this for twenty minutes first thing in the morning and again just before bed. If you’re new to meditation, start with five or ten minutes and slowly increase the time as your meditation practice improves.

Meditation is a great way to calm your mind and bring you back into the present moment.
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2. Yoga

Yoga encompasses the body and the breath. So, it’s not only a great form of exercise, but it incorporates meditation to slow down and calm the body and the mind. Try a yin yoga class or take yourself through a few sun salutations each morning. There are loads of yoga resources online such as Yoga Glo (so no excuses). Try to get to your favourite yoga class a few times a week or do it at home each morning to really get the benefits. Schedule it in your diary to make it happen.

3. Get In Touch With Nature

Kick off your shoes and walk barefoot on the beach or in the park. Feel the sensation of the earth beneath your feet. Leave your iPod, phone, and watch at home. Take the time to connect with Mother Nature. Better yet, dive into the ocean. There is something so healing and meditative about the ocean. It is extremely cleansing and revitalising. Your body and mind will love you for it. Make the commitment to connect with nature at least once a day. Before I dive into the ocean, I repeat everything I want to let go of. Then, as I dive in, I let everything wash away from me. It’s very powerful!

4. Drink Herbal Tea

If you’re feeling uber-stressed, coffee is not going to help, sweetheart! Coffee is a stimulant. Drinking it whilst in a stressed state is like adding fuel to a fire. Try drinking a cup of warm, organic, herbal tea instead. I love The Seventh Duchess teas. The ritual of drinking tea, for me, is very calming. Either with my besties or alone, there is something about tea that really makes me slow down and connect. Taking yourself away from your computer and doing something nurturing will also give you a physiological boost. Give it a try!

5. Get Grounded

Lying like a starfish on the grass is extremely grounding. Look up at the clouds and take long, slow, deep, belly breaths. Feel the earth beneath you supporting and grounding you.

6. Dance And Sing Your Heart Out

I love to sing, especially in the car and in my office. Your bedroom is also a great stage… hairbrush 'mic' in hand and door closed (or open), release your inner Beyoncé. This releases loads of stored tension in the body, plus it releases feel-good endorphins. One of my fav tracks is 'Roar' by Katy Perry.

7. Laugh

Don’t take life too seriously. Make sure you laugh every day. If you’re feeling stressed, call someone who will make you laugh. Or invite your besties over for a hilarious ‘rom-com’ marathon. Laughing also releases feel-good endorphins, so get giggling!

Important note: Whatever you do, don’t eat when you’re in a stressed state. When you're in fight-or-flight mode, your body shunts blood flow away from your digestive system and into your muscles. You don’t want this when you’re trying to digest your food--you'll end up getting very bloated and gassy. So, chew your food slowly and consciously in a calm and peaceful environment.

Remember, nothing is worth sacrificing your health over. Stress is not good for us or anyone around us. So, let go of whatever is stressing you out and come back to the present moment where bliss and love hang out together.

Now, I want to challenge you. In the comments below let me know which one of these 7 tools are you going to implement today? Your comment matters because you matter — and it may be the one thing someone else needs to see to spark their inner fire. So go ahead and leave your comment now.

Comments (22)

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    • Lauren
      April 25, 2014

      I will implement number 3. I work at home and live directly across from the beach, but I don't make time to walk over and relax everyday. I think about it all the time as I love the ocean, but I am always "too busy". So I am going to make the time, be it 10 minutes or 45 minutes to walk over and sit on the sand, go for a swim, a walk, whatever! No phones, no work, no nothing. Thank you :)

      • Melissa Ambrosini
        April 28, 2014

        Sounds divine honey. Put it in your calendar every day so you do it. I schedule in self love time every day and love it. I look forward to it and crave it. Even if it's just 10 minutes it makes all the difference. Mother Nature is SO powerful and healing so make sure you connect with it daily.

        xx

    • Cara
      April 27, 2014

      How inspiring, thank you for these beautiful ideas! Unfortuenately living in Germany doesnt give me the opportunity to dive into the ocean which I miss a lot whenever I get back from holidays, as water is something super magical to me and swimming feels very calming. After reading this I will walk through the forest and connect with the beautiful nature, maybe even sneak in a mediation. Im feeling a weird restlessness and hope this will ground me again. Thank you so much!! xx

      • Melissa Ambrosini
        April 28, 2014

        I agree Cara, the ocean is so magical and super healing. I am sure you have some lovely parks you can go kick off your shoes and ground yourself. Maybe even do a meditation in the park? I love meditating in nature, it's so powerful.

        xx

    • May 8, 2014

      Hello,that is a good post.Thanks for sharing!

    • Emily
      June 1, 2014

      Thank you, these are very helpful suggestions for some more peace in my day, which I need at the moment. Tonight I will do number 4 and 7. In the morning I will try your meditation and do some yoga. Thank you for your positivity and inspiration. Xxx

    • Rachael
      June 3, 2014

      This is just what I needed to read today. Thank you x

    • Fiona
      June 3, 2014

      I'm off to yoga after work tonight! Thanks.

    • Amy
      June 3, 2014

      Thanks for these tips Mel! 1 and 3 checked off today. Morning walk along the beach with some chakra clearing meditation mid way. Perhaps some singing and dancing in the kitchen while cooking dinner will help shake any post-work stress this evening!

    • Vanessa
      June 3, 2014

      This is beautiful and so necessary! I am incorporating all of these stress less habits into my life, except I am now over an hours drive from the beach, and really miss the ocean. I have come out of a dark place and have comfort knowing these things ease my mind and provide such joy.
      Look forward to seeing you at Utopia Women's Wellness Event in Brisbane

    • Hannah
      June 3, 2014

      Thanks Melissa such wonderful ideas! I'm definatley going to start an attempt at meditation I think doing this eaxh morning will really relax me and kick start me for the day!

    • Natalie
      June 3, 2014

      Number 2! I've recently restarted my regular yoga practice and I am pumped for it in a big way! It's so grounding, fulfilling, calming, challenging.... the list goes on...

    • June 3, 2014

      Hi Melissa,

      All these tips are amazing for stress relief, I seem to start my day stress free after a yoga or meditation session but somehow wind up again by the end of the day, so I will implement your mediation point at night as well.

      Can I just ask what your advice is for spots of stress during the day? I just have moments in my day where I feel overwhelmed or heavy chested due to stress that i build up, I usually try breathing deeper. I would love to you know if you have a go to plan when stress gets the best of you in the middle of the day?

      Thanks lovely x

      • Melissa Ambrosini
        June 4, 2014

        Hi Angela,

        I sure do! It depends where I am - If I am at home I will head to my balcony and just take some deep breaths. Meditate. Do some yoga. Have an Epsom salt bath. Blast some music and have a dance off.

        And if I am out I will head down to the beach and quickly dive in the ocean. Take myself to some grass, take off my shoes and ground myself.

        Try some of these and see how you feel honey.

        xx

    • Tanja
      June 3, 2014

      Thanks Melissa. These are great tips! I love doing yoga and am teaching myself to meditate. It's difficult at first but I think I'm getting better! I'm going to take up tip #3 and #5. My boyfriend lives in Geelong and I really don't take advantage of how close to the ocean I am when I'm down there! Thanks again! Xo

    • Brooke
      June 3, 2014

      Great article!

      I have experienced lots of sress with my workload lately, so I am implementing number 1: meditation and number 2: yoga into my lifestyle. I'm a beginner at meditation but have tried it a few times, and each time is a little easier to be more present and calm.

      Thank you for sharing, as well as for your audio meditation (which I loved!) Brilliant and helpful!
      Xo

    • June 4, 2014

      Hi Mel,

      Thanks so much for these tips. It's nice to hear some of it reiterated! I started doing yoga about three months ago and am LOVING it. It is life changing. I have also started meditating at least once a day for 10 minutes and I'm finding myself in a much better state throughout the day, and much of the anxiety I've felt in the past has disappeared. I love all of your suggestions about - excepting perhaps the star fish on the ground as most of the time I'm wearing a suit for work! Not a great look!

      Keep on inspiring us -
      Thanks,
      Bec x

      • Melissa Ambrosini
        June 5, 2014

        hehehehe maybe not a good idea but you get the idea ;)

        xxx

    • Claire
      June 10, 2014

      Hi Melissa,

      I've just had a similar turning point in my life. Not quite as far as hospital but a breakdown in my health and enough is enough. This is through work stress due to travelling as a tutor.

      I will work my way up to all of these but number one for me to do right now is take time to eat and not eat when stressed. I do this as I'm on the road all day and even when I get in so I can carry on working. Bad choices are inevitable when on the road and stressed. By writing this here I am making a commitment to making this change.

      Thank you so much for the opportunity to do this!

      Claire x

      • Melissa Ambrosini
        June 10, 2014

        Well done darling. You can even put reminders in your phone to help remind you and keep you on track.

        xx

    • June 28, 2019

      Ooo love your list, gf!

      My top stress Buster's are:
      - Chamomile tea (ditching the caffeine)
      - taking an "adult time out" to recalibrate before responding (I do this often with my personal life & work)
      - working out! I love the Fitness Marshall for dance cardio & Tone It Up for full body workouts
      - pure nourishment. I focus on the health benefits while I eat whole foods and imagine they are giving me Radiant energy & vitality.
      - and beautiful deep breath work

      A great Medi & yoga stretch also help big time. I also love surrounding myself with lush plants in and outdoors!

      Mandy

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