How To Relieve Stress: 7 Things You Can Do To Come Alive Again and Reconnect To Your Partner
by Majbrit Villadsen on June 2, 2016
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Stress affects men and women from all walks of life, and usually our relationship suffer if we’re stressed. Although we may have different ways of coping with stress depending on our gender, in this article you’ll learn how to relieve stress naturally in ways that can work for both men and women. Try it out yourself and see what works best for you.
We live in a world where we consciously have to pull the brakes once in a while and focus on stress relief not to loose touch with ourselves, our partner, our passions, and life. Ideally, we wouldn’t reach that state of overload but from my own experience, despite my best efforts, we do. Once in a while, I end up being sucked into the world of being a slave of my to-do list, my own expectations and other people’s agenda for me. Always focusing on the next task at hand, loosing touch of my needs and desires, and being so absorbed into work I forget to bring in a bit of fun, pleasure and self-care.
One of the ways to discover when we’re getting stressed is to observe our emotions. If we start to feel angry, frustrated or irritated, or maybe even anxious, it might be signs to slow down. Our body registers and respond to our feelings, even if we’re not consciously aware of them. Once I become aware of the physical, mental and emotional tensions, it brings a relaxation to my body and I’m better able to calm my mind.
What stress does to your body
The symptoms and effects of stress in men seem to be pretty much similar to the signs of stress in women as it relates to our sexuality. Our bodies respond to stress with elevating the stress hormones. This affects the production of sex hormones, and may cause a lack of sexual desire (low libido), low sexual response and a feeling of not being connected to your partner. The symptoms of stress are many as stress affects our immune system, cardiovascular health, cognitive functions and much more. In the articles linked to above, we’re focused on how stress affects your sex life, as it often creates a gap between you and your partner.
Dealing with stress
Stress relief is of course much more than just doing something to counterbalance the negative effects of stress. If we don’t do anything to change the cause of stress, or to change how we perceive or react emotionally to people and situations in our life, our body and mind will continue to be overloaded. It’s like trying to put out a fire while continuing to add more wood and a dash of gasoline. Any form of coping techniques should be met with equal efforts to solve whatever is causing stress in the first place. So we've taken care of that; now how to relieve stress?
How to relieve stress naturally
Sometimes we have taken the necessary steps to eliminate stress, and our body needs help to get back on track. Other times we have time-limited stressful periods in our lives, and want to support our body during this phase.
So here are some things you can do to balance your body and mind, and reconnect to yourself and your partner in a way that nourishes your relationship.
SLEEP: First things first; if you’re recovering from stress, or if you’re in a temporary stressful period, one thing you need to be adamant about is getting enough sleep. For most people it’s around eight hours every night. Optimal would be from around 10 pm to 6 am, although for some it might not be the best fit.
It’s worth to notice that if you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue after a prolonged period of stress, you might start to come alive in the evening. This is not a sign that you’re a night owl. On the contrary, it’s a sign that your body is exhausted and depleted and your inner rhythm is off. When you start to go to bed at 10 pm and get up around 6 am, your body slowly gets back into balance. You’re allowing for the body to reset the inner clock.
To encourage this reset, it helps to sleep in a dark room; use thick curtains if there’s outside light sources, and refrain from using alarm clocks with fluorescent light. Checking the phone if you get up at night or turning on the light also disturbs your inner rhythm. If you go to bed half an hour earlier and listen to a guided meditation or relaxation inducing music, it helps your mind and nervous system to calm down
DOWN TIME: Creating space is a non-negotiable when we want to relieve stress. It’s really necessary not to pack your private schedule too tight. Leisure time is for the mind to calm down and for the body to regenerate. If we’re constantly in overdrive and doing, doing, doing our body tense up, and our mind gets overworked. Instead of experiencing relaxation and rejuvenation when we sleep, our body and mind is so wired that it’s not able to unwind and it affects the quality of sleep.
Between all the things we have to do, we often forget the things we want to do. If we don’t plan for me-time it’ll never happen. Seemingly urgent things will show up and take our time, or our mind will find a way of talking us out of it. Down time overlaps with some of the other suggestions on how to relieve stress. Making love, exercising and even cooking a delicious, nourishing meal can all be regenerative activities.
MAKE LOVE: It might be the last thing you feel like doing if you’re overworked. However, physical and emotional intimacy with your partner is a great way to relieve stress. It can reduce cortisol levels and improve sexual response. Endorphins and other hormones are released during physical connection which help reduce stress and makes you feel better and happier. Actual penetration is not needed to experience pleasure, connection and the beneficial hormonal reaction in the brain and body.
It’s a good idea to take the pressure off lovemaking, and to make the connection about enhancing love rather than just the physical act that usually ends too quick to truly feel yourself and each other. Practice being more present in the way you touch and kiss. Massage is a wonderful way to connect, enhance sensitivity and expand awareness. If you’re a man suffering from erectile problems this approach also helps you to be more relaxed, present, and it increases nitric oxide which stimulates blood flow to the genitals. When we’re nourished in this way it gives us a sense of well-being and joy and promotes relaxation.
BETTER COMMUNICATION: When we’re able to talk to our partner about what’s going on and what we’re feeling it creates understanding and compassion. It raises our awareness and brings us closer. It also makes our partner feel included and takes away the anxiety of uncertainty.
Stress is exacerbated by the accumulation of unresolved negative feelings. Too often our behavior is determined by our emotional state and we end up being controlled by past unresolved experiences. In the book Tantric Love: Feeling vs Emotion Diana and Michael Richardson explains about the difference between feelings and emotions. They offer some great insights on separating love from emotions, and gives us tools on how to address our emotions to connect deeper and more lovingly to ourselves and our partner.
Others might also be able to see your problems in a new way or give suggestions you hadn’t thought of. See your doctor, a psychologist or stress coach if you need professional help to relieve stress.
EXERCISE REGULARLY: Movement connects you to your body and keeps you more grounded. This helps you to relieve stress naturally. It’s great to include mindful movement like yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong as well as more physical or cardiovascular challenging exercise in your routine like working out with resistance bands, running or dancing.
Create a workout routine that works for you. Regular exercise keeps you emotionally stable, releases mental tensions and burn off excess stress hormones. It increases endorphins and elevates your mood. Find something you enjoy doing. If you don’t, it doesn’t have the same positive benefits.
HEALTHY EATING AND EATING HABITS: When we’re stressed, we have a tendency to eat more processed, sugary and unhealthy foods and swallow it without chewing properly. It causes indigestion and doesn’t nourish our bodies sufficiently. Often, we also lean on caffeine, sugar and alcohol to give us a kick, and it does - temporarily. Sadly, it also stresses our body, adrenal glands, and affect our blood sugar levels. So we end up feeling more tired and drained and need more stimulants to keep us going. It’s a vicious, unhealthy cycle.
The food we eat has a great impact on our physical, mental and emotional well-being. Eating real, natural foods is vital to support optimal health and relieve stress. Take small steps daily to improve your diet. Also make an effort to be more mindful when you eat: really taste the food, pay attention to how you sit, chew etc.
Supplementing with vitamins, especially B-vitamins, vitamin C, and magnesium improves your physical well-being and emotional health. Ashwagandha is an herb with many great properties; one of them is to help your body cope with stress. On top of that it boosts your vitality and improves sex drive so it’s recommended for shorter periods of stress, or for a few months when recovering after chronic stress.
CONSCIOUS RELAXATION: Throwing yourself on the couch at the end of a long day, turning on the tv and sinking into a vegetative state is not really relaxation. The connection to the body is lost.
When we bring our awareness into our body, breathing into it and noticing the activity here, it’s something completely different. This will help you relieve stress instantly. And it’s not the activity of the mind we’re bringing our attention to but the physical sensations in the body. We’re consciously looking into the body to feel whatever vibrations we feel. Subtle signs of aliveness. In this way we enhance the connection to our body and give room for our muscles to let go of tensions. It also helps to calm your mind and relieve stress.
Whenever you realize you’re lost in thoughts, just bring your awareness back into your body. Meditation is another way of calming the mind and can help reduce stress and anxiety. An essential part of reducing stress is to be more present. Not constantly dissecting past experiences or worrying about the future. Becoming aware of the breathing is one way to be more present, and it usually has the side benefit of the breath becoming slower and deeper.
Quick tip on how to relieve stress: The Heart Math Institute has created The Quick Coherence Technique that helps you reduce stress right in the moment and helps you feel positive, focused, calm and energized.
The body knows how to relieve stress if we create the right conditions. I know it can feel like there’s just no time for slowing down. Unfortunately we might end up not having a choice if we don’t listen to our body in time.
Maybe you feel too exhausted to change anything but you see, the thing is, if you choose to move your body consciously instead of dropping dead on the couch, you actually start to invigorate your body and soon your mind will follow. When you start to eat healthier it will affect your energy levels and so on.
Start small and do one thing different today. Decide to sleep half an hour extra; go to bed half an hour earlier to have some quality time with your partner, or put on your favorite song and dance it out when you get home from work. Taking the first step, however small, is the beginning of change.
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