Special guest post by Tabitha Jayne of www.thrivingloss.com on the importance of self-care during times of change.
There’s no doubt about it. Change causes stress. It takes us out of our comfort zone and as a result we feel threatened.
And when we feel threatened the stress chemicals ephinephrine, norepinephrine and corisol are released. These chemicals cause blood to be transferred towards the main organs, increasing your heart rate and increasing breathing amongst other things.
Now these chemical reactions are all very useful if we had to avoid being eaten by predators thousands of years ago but they’re not that useful when we are faced with change in today’s world.
Research as recently as 2010 in New Scientist continues to show that severe stress can affect the immune system so much that we can end up suffering from ill health. In a world such as ours today when we are exposed to the already stressful daily life of traffic jams, work and home life, lack of time, money problems, and global crises, the last thing we need is the stress from change causing additional problems.
The following three strategies are simple yet often overlooked when people are faced with change. They can be the last thing that people want to focus on. However failure to focus on these can cause unnecessary additional pressure for us as we adapt to change.
Sleep can be one of the first things to be affected during times of change. The chemicals caused by stress can prevent sleep.
If you are having difficulty sleeping, create a routine that can help support you. Hot baths before bed, not watching TV, and listening to relaxing music are all things that may help.
Find a way to factor in extra naps if you need them, even if it means devoting your lunch break to a few minutes of shuteye.
New Scientist reported that being aware for more than twenty-one hours affects your abilities in the same way as if you are legally drunk. If you factor in that your concentration may be affected by the stress of change it becomes even more imperative that you monitor your sleep habit.
The added benefit of more sleep is that as you sleep your brain is actually working away processing memories and problems. That means that simply by sleeping you can enhance your ability to move successfully through life changes.
The fuel we provide for our bodies during times of change can either support us or drain us of energy.
Two major challenges that we may be faced, which are indirectly caused by the chemicals produced by change, are losing our appetite or craving comfort food.
Stress caused by change puts the body under additional pressure as it robs your body of nutrients. Eating large amounts of white sugar can cause us to feel fatigued and experience mood changes.
This deprives us of the energy needed to move easily and effortlessly through change. Think of your body like an expensive sports car. You wouldn’t put olive oil in the fuel tank and expect it to perform at its best. It’s the same for your body.
A great way to get extra nutrients is to incorporate green juices into your diet. Not only are there numerous recipes online to use but you can even buy them in coffee shops and juice bars making it even easier to provide the right fuel for your body!
3. Walking in Nature
Being out in nature can have a dramatic effect upon how we cope with the stress caused by change.
It offers us more than just a chance to disconnect and exercise our bodies. Research is now showing a multitude of benefits, all of which can help us deal more effectively with change.
In 2007, the University of Essex found that 30 minutes walking outside in nature daily could be just as effective as anti-depressants for mild/moderate depression.
Further research has shown that walking in nature reduces anger, anxiety and stress, boosts cognitive functions as well as our immune systems.
In Japan, there is a well-recognised stress and relaxation practise called “Shinrin-yoku” which means forest-bathing. It simply consists of going for a leisurely walk ranging from half a day up to weekend trips in forests.
The benefits of a trip like this have been shown to last for up to a week afterwards. If a daily walk in nature can’t be factored into your daily schedule then a weekly forest walk is just a good.
If reading this has made you realise that you are neglecting any one of these areas then commit to taking action today. Just one small change to your daily routine today will put you on the path to vibrant energy and help you successfully navigate whatever change you’re going through.
Tabitha Jayne is the author of Thriving Loss: Move beyond grief to a place of peace, passion and purpose. Find out more at www.thrivingloss.com