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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Stress Relief Comes from Within: To give ourself the best chance at managing stress, it has to start with us, says Dr. Saman Rezaie of Integrative Health

Jan 31, 2014 09:01AM ● By Dr. Saman Rezaie

Everybody is looking for stress relief from everyday life’s constant assault of decisions, events, relationships and so forth. Perhaps the answer is not about relief, but management of the stressors in daily life. Imagine that we are not reacting to stress, but we have a plan in place to live a more empowered life.

The most important thing to determine is where our stress is coming from. There is work, kids, finances and family, but these things may not be the cause of our stress. Perhaps the unrealistic mental, emotional and physical demands that we place on ourselves is where we are generating stress. These all allow hormones such as cortisol and neuropeptides to flood the body and create a stressful physical state. What we want to do is understand how we are creating self-expectations that become the stress we are experiencing.

Next, we want to eliminate as much unnecessary stress as possible. It starts with realizing what aspects of life that we control and the ones that we cannot. Once we can let go of the control over things beyond our control, we relieve much of the added mental and emotional stress we place on ourself. We can then start to focus on the things that we do control. Our thoughts, words, actions and habits will be what we want to bring to our attention.

When we start to influence these aspects of our life, we will become more empowered and feel less worried about everything that is out of our control. The next step is to avoid things that are very stressful to us. Certain places and people can be more than we can handle at times. We can remove ourself from these things as much as possible to reduce the amount of unnecessary stress load we experience. By making that decision, we create space for ourself and feel better about our environment. This is the starting response.

When looking at the things that are creating stress for us, try to get some perspective about the situation by reframing it. Take the event and think about how this will impact us, in one month, one year and even one decade. Is it that important or detrimental to our life? Being able to take any situation and look at it from another view can change how we are feeling about it, and more importantly, how we are reacting to it. With this new perspective, we can focus again on the things that we do control. Now we are ready to more effectively respond to the situation.

To give ourself the best chance at managing stress, it has to start with us. This is where we want to make sure we are eating a healthy, balanced diet. This starts with breakfast and continues on with meals throughout the day. Keeping our blood sugars even helps us to handle stress better and have a clear mind.

The next thing to add to our routine is regular exercise. If we have one in place, great, if we are lacking in this area, look to start with 30 minutes of mild to moderate activity three times per week. Exercise will help alleviate built-up tension, sharpen our mind and give us a nice endorphin high. The working out should help initiate the next major component of health, sleep. Getting seven or more hours of shuteye a night is needed for recovery and function the next day.

The last step is to have fun. Doing hobbies we enjoy, having social time with people that brighten our life and stopping to smell the flowers will allow us to be more centered. Putting ourself in this state allows us to function at a more optimal level and not experience so much stress.

Dr. Saman Rezaie is a licensed naturopathic physician and graduate of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. For more information, visit