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Wellbeing: How to Keep Stress in Check
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Wellbeing: How to Keep Stress in Check

How to Deal With Stress

Life doesn’t always move in straight lines – and nor should it. Our stories, paths and experiences go up and down, weave in and out, and take us in unexpected directions, both positive and difficult; life is as much exciting as it can be overwhelming. So, when life becomes too unpredictable, how do we take care of our emotional wellbeing and deal with the stress?

How to Reduce Stress

The good news is, there are plenty of stress management methods available. From meditation and exercise to aromatherapy and relaxation techniques, there are plenty of short- and long-term tips and remedies we can all use on our quest to relieve stress.

What is Stress?

Let’s address what stress is. It helps to understand its origins, and to know and recognise the signs of stress, before we implement stress management strategies. According to the Australian Psychological Society (APS), stress is “a feeling of being overloaded, wound-up tight, tense and worried.” Although stress can benefit us when it comes to finding the motivation to complete a task or tick off our to-do list, “stress can also be harmful if we become over-stressed and it interferes with our ability to get on with our normal life for too long.”

The Physical Symptoms of Stress

Stress doesn’t just present emotional symptoms such as worry or anxiety. It impacts us physically, too. Our nervous system responds to stress by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, natural hormones which instigate that ‘fight or flight’ response. These hormones can increase our heart rate and impact our breathing, blood pressure, metabolism and muscle tension. Other physical signs of stress, according to the APS, include: Headaches; Sleep Disturbance, insomnia; Upset stomach, indigestion; Anger, irritability; Depression; Fatigue; Feeling overwhelmed; Feeling moody or tearful; Difficulty concentrating.

Meditation Stress Management Techniques

Beyond establishing regular routines for exercise and relaxation, eating, waking and going to bed, the best techniques for managing stress are often some of the simplest. Learning how to meditate, even for just two minutes, can positively impact your stress levels. And thanks to our smartphones, some of the top apps, like Calm or Headspace, offer easy-to-follow mindfulness meditation programs to help get you started.

Breathing for Stress Management

Breathwork can be another incredible tool in helping to alleviate the symptoms of stress. Leah Simmons is a Pilates instructor, kundalini yoga teacher and the founder of KAAIAA, a unique training method and transformational practice that focuses on the 4 Pillars of Health (mental, physical, spiritual and emotional). KAAIAA incorporates Breath Work, Body Work, Meditation and Integration to help you manage your stress.

Leah shares some of her simple tips for using the breath to help with stress, boost your vibration and increase your energy.

“Breathing is one of the few things in our day that we actually DON’T have to think about. It happens (thank goodness) without much interference from us. Just like our heart beating or our eyes blinking, breathing is an involuntary action, so you’d be forgiven for thinking we could do anything to improve upon what our body instinctively already does.

“Correct breathing techniques can have huge benefits for our overall health. Modern science is showing us that making even the smallest adjustments to the way we breathe can drastically improve athletic ability, lower blood pressure, increase cellular function, prevent snoring and alleviate allergies, autoimmune disorders and even asthma. And it doesn’t have to leave you gasping for air!”

Leah’s Breathe Easy Fundamentals

1. SLOW IT DOWN. “As James Nestor says in his excellent 2020 book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art... ‘Breathing is like rowing a boat. Taking a zillion short and stilted strokes will get you where you're going, but they pale in comparison to the efficiency and speed of fewer, longer strokes.’ Being mindful of the length, the width, and the depth of each breath can improve not only your athletic ability but can bring focus, clarity and calm into your every day.”

2. THE NOSE KNOWS. “Breathing through your nose not only regulates your intake of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide, breaths that come via the sinuses stimulate the release of a large dose of nitric oxide — a gas that increases circulation and boosts your immune system. Being mindful of breathing through your nose even when exerting yourself (i.e. during exercise) can further encourage your body to work more efficiently.”

3. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. “Like anything, the more you do it, the better you get. Consistently taking the time to focus on how you breathe is going to go a long way in improving your health overall. You will begin to feel clearer, sharper and more focused. Your sleep will improve, and you will have more energy than you will know what to do with!”

Try KAAIAA at Home

Every KAAIAA class begins with focused Breathwork to activate and energise your entire being. Check out the KAAIAA On-Demand platform, or join one of Leah’s FREE daily Zoom classes currently on offer – sign up to receive your link here.

Follow Leah @iamleahsimmons and @thisiskaaiaa