These days our lifestyles are all about hurrying. Every day may feel like one long, extended rush hour, as we jam pack every second of our day and still seem to run out of time. How quickly can we gobble down our fast food lunch and get back to our desks? How fast can we finish our workout? We rush to get the kids to daycare or to school. We speed off to work, feeling frustrated when we hit a red light or when some minor traffic holds us up. Researchers have found that our attention spans have gotten shorter and we can only concentrate for 8 seconds before we are distracted by someone or something else. And, when we actually have nothing to occupy our minds, we immediately reach for our mobile devices to check our emails or text messages.
If all this sounds familiar to you, it may be a good time to recognize that all that rushing adds more stress to an already stressful life. We are pulled in so many directions, we often feel pressured and tense. To balance all that activity, we need to take some time to unwind. Many of us are so stressed, we may have forgotten how good it feels to slow down, calm the mind and relax. Chronic stress may often result in suppressed immune function, anxiety or depression and leave us vulnerable to prolonged inflammation. Taking it slow for a short time each day allows us to receive the health benefits associated with a slower lifestyle, including lowered levels of blood pressure and stress hormones.
In the midst of all the chaos, a few moments of visualizing yourself sitting on a beach reading a book may be just what you need to rest, relax, restore and refuel. Actually, it turns out that just taking the time to concentrate on our breath for a few minutes throughout the day can leave us revitalized and energized. Mindful breath control is one of the simplest and easiest ways to improve both mental and physical health. According to Harvard Health Publications, deep breathing several times each day encourages a full oxygen exchange, which can lower the heartbeat, stabilize blood pressure and lead to a more relaxed state of mind.
Generally, our alertness and reaction times diminish around 3 p.m. Maintaining focus for long periods of time burns energy and may leave us feeling drained. While none of us have an unlimited amount of energy, fortunately our energy is renewable. Those of us lucky enough to fit in a 10 to 20-minute power nap to ward off the 3 pm doldrums may surprisingly find not only reduced fatigue but increased focus, memory, cognitive performance and productivity. In fact, studies show that productive people can complete tedious tasks with a higher level of focus and less frustration when they take a break after 90 minutes of intense concentration. A 10-minute break that involves getting up and moving about can be truly restorative and help clear the mind.
Research shows that relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises are the most effective for calming the mind and lowering cortisol levels. Just 20 minutes of daily meditation can help to relieve chronic pain, manage stress and reduce inflammation. There is a misconception that learning to meditate is difficult. Meditation is an active practice that will evolve over time. Those who learn meditation techniques find that adopting this healthy lifestyle habit leads to long term mind-body benefits, including emotional wellbeing, increased awareness, positive mood, reduced anxiety and worry and improved heart rate, lowered blood pressure levels and increased energy. Those new to meditation may find that after only a few days of daily practice, they sleep better and feel less stressed overall.
While our lives are filled with things we have to do, don’t lose sight that life is a balance between obligations, productivity and enjoyment. Sharing a nourishing meal with family and friends is one of the great pleasures of life. Those who make a habit of inhaling their food may want to consider eating more slowly. Eating at a relaxed pace allows you to better recognize when you have satiated your hunger, leading to less caloric intake and gradual weight loss. Those who take the time to sit down and eat mindfully better support their digestion and immune health and make healthier overall nutrition choices.
For a healthier and happier 2016, work towards slowing down the pace of your everyday life. Consider turning down your stress response and taking a breather from the whirlwind. Sometimes, just hitting the brakes on some areas of your life leads to satisfaction in other areas. Slowing down can help to boost your creativity and allows time to gain a fresh perspective about what is most important in your life. When you need to get centered, taking a walk in nature and breathing in fresh air can help you live in the moment and fill you with a sense of peace, good health and general wellbeing.
Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements that support the stress response, energy production and healthy sleep:
Daily Stress Formula by Pure Encapsulations – This broad spectrum formulation contains a blend of herbs and nutrients designed to counter the physical and mental effects of stress, including support for heathy neurotransmitter production, adrenal response and energy metabolism. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.
De-Stress by Biotics Research – This popular product is formulated with a patented, all natural, bioactive peptide proven to be clinically effective in relieving anxiety and stress. Gluten free.
Calm Response by Innate Response Formulas – This synergistic formula provides botanicals, adaptogens and nutrients in support of a healthy stress response, mental stamina, strengthening the nervous system and gentle overall wellness support. Gluten, dairy and soy free vegetarian formula.
Stress Ease by American Nutraceuticals – This product provides herbals, adaptogens, vitamins and minerals to aid in reducing physical, emotional and mental stress and fatigue and to promote emotional wellbeing and a calm state of mind. Gluten, dairy and soy free, vegan formula.
Hevert Stress Relief by Hevert Pharmaceuticals – These quick dissolving tablets provide non-drowsy homeopathic support for the temporary relief of symptoms of tension and stress, such as restlessness, anxiousness, sleeplessness and nervousness.
Stress Arrest by Designs for Health – This product delivers comprehensive support for stress and anxiety related conditions with a calming, therapeutic, synergistic blend of GABA, glycine and B vitamins. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.
Stress Support Complex by Complementary Prescriptions – This stress and sleep support formula provides natural ingredients including botanicals, GABA and adaptogens for occasional anxiety and tension relief.