Let’s face it: Stress is a part of our everyday lives. There is positive stress (excitement about moving up a level in the show ring, for example), but then there is detrimental stress (something terrible happens at work, and you end up in tears). Stress management is an ongoing process and one in which learning occurs every time a new stressful situation rears its head. Nutritionist and wellness coach Val Breslow, CCN, CHHC, AADP of Equestrian Wellness, a premier source of wellness coaching and products to elevate the well-being of the equestrian athlete has kindly shared her own top tips and thoughts on stress management.
Val states, “Stress management is such a complex term because there are so many facets that play a role in stress…both external and internal pressures. Right now, we’re feeling the collective stress from the news media and of course…what seems like hourly changes to our status. Not to mention it’s incredibly scary to not know whether you’re going to get sick or not…what’s going to happen to our economy and will life ever be the same…All we can do is work on our inner calm.”
Top 8 Stress Management Tips
1. Breathing. Take deep belly breaths. It creates instant calm and resets our nervous systems. Deep belly breaths help turn off the sympathetic nervous system (the one that controls fight or flight) and turn on the parasympathetic system (which controls rest, relax, and digest). Take a moment to slow down, breathe, and realize that you have everything under control.
2. Meditate. Meditation doesn’t have to be an hour-long session. It can be as short as a few minutes of sitting quietly and trying to stay in the moment, clearing your mind. Don’t get us wrong, meditation can be difficult, as our brains are often in go go go mode – but it is well worth how you’ll feel afterwards.
3. Move. Get up from your desk and take a short walk around the house, or go outside for a stroll. More traditional exercise can also be incredibly helpful as well in blowing off steam. Going for a run gets us going in particular.
4. Call a friend. It’s okay to vent. It’s also okay to ring a friend and just say hello. Know that there are others out there who support you and also are stressed. You’re in this together!
5. Be around animals and nature. If you have a pet, take a moment to spend some time with your pet. Give its fur a stroke. Petting a cat or dog (or lizard, or whatever else you may have) can be incredibly soothing. Take care of any plants or garden you may have. Being in tune with something besides the TV or the computer can help you relax.
6. Earthing. Earthing is walking barefoot on the ground. It can help you to reconnect with nature and ease your mind by thinking about how nature feels underfoot. Of course, this is more feasible when temperatures and weather permit, but it’s amazing how refreshed you can feel.
7. Forest bathing. Forest bathing is walking through a forest. This helps to reconnect with nature and ourselves, as well as rest our internal rhythms. Perhaps you don’t have a forest handy, however. Taking a walk outside is similarly effective. Soak up the scenery as you stroll. It doesn’t have to be a power walk. Observe animals at work looking for food, the leaves rustling, and the trail crunching underfoot. Slow down.
8. Sleep. All of the above tips can help with stress management, but if you aren’t getting any (or enough) sleep, your body is running on only a small percentage of available energy and truly will fall into survival mode. Not only will you feel below par, but lack of sleep can cause physical health issues on top of mental ones. Set a dedicated bedtime, put your phone away, and get into a routine before bed to help you transition to a regular sleeping schedule.
Stress management takes practice to find the best ways to work with the body (instead of against it) to create the best possible outcomes. Everyone is wired differently, so what works for one person may not work for another. Rarely is there one “magic bullet” to make stress go away completely, but rather a set of complimentary steps and habits that work together to create a sense of calm.
Val says, “Stress management is truly one of the most important parts of creating wellness in one’s life. It’s a choice.”
We couldn’t agree more. It may not be easy, but working diligently at stress management can immensely help to improve one’s wellness, both inside and out.
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for more on Val’s favorite products, including a new hand sanitizer that actually smells amazing!
About Equestrian Wellness
Equestrian Wellness is an information resource, coaching hub, and creator of products to connect riders to the world of health and wellness. Founded by Val Breslow, services include barn calls, individual wellness coaching, and a myriad of natural and effective wellness products, including disinfecting helmet sprays, soaps, hand sanitizer, and cleansing wipes. Equestrian Wellness’ advisory board includes Aurelie Wettstein and Kendrick Von Hofe, professional riders and trainers; and Bettina Morf, physical therapist and amateur rider. To learn more about Equestrian Wellness, click here. To read Val’s blog, click here, and be sure to “like” and follow along on Facebook and Instagram.
Photo by Equestrian Wellness.