If you’re feeling stressed, take a deep breath and tune into the latest podcast episode to learn how to stress less and be happy more.
Founder of Healthy by Marlowe
Maria Marlowe: [00:00:03] Welcome to the Happier and Healthier Podcast, I’m your host, Maria Marlowe. And this is a place where we don’t rely on good luck or good genes for our health and happiness, but rather we create it with our thoughts and our actions each and every single day. Each week I’ll bring you a thought or a guest that will help you live your happiest and healthiest life. Are you ready?
Maria Marlowe: [00:00:33] Today, we’re talking about how to stress less and be happy more, which is something I think we could all use a little more of. I’ve brought up stress on this podcast many, many times in many different episodes because I think it’s something that we tend to brush off or we don’t take as seriously as other aspects of our health. And there’s a lot of people, myself included, who will eat really healthy and exercise and do all the right things.
Maria Marlowe: [00:01:05] Yet we’ll still get super stressed and let stress get to them. Before I jump into these four techniques, that will be super helpful for helping you stress less. I want to share with you a brand that I absolutely love and that makes this podcast possible.
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Maria Marlowe: [00:02:10] I’ve brought up stress on the podcast many, many times because I think it’s something a lot of us overlook in our path to health. We go straight for the food and nutrition, the supplements, the teas or the workouts, the infrared saunas, the healthy drinking water, all of these other external things. But what we fail to really work on is managing our stress and we can eat all the healthy foods in the world and have a healthy, active lifestyle and do all the healthy things. But if we’re not actively managing our stress, we’re never going to truly be healthy. Stress kills people. You can literally have a heart attack from stress and die. I read an article in The New York Times a few years back that was covering a story about how in Asia, particularly Japan and China, they actually have words for stress induced death because it was happening so frequently, whether it’s due to overwork, people just for working super long hours, not getting a break and dying from overwork or dying because they were delivered some piece of bad news. So, for example, if they got fired, there was a story of a man who literally got the phone call, learned that he was fired and dropped dead right on his kitchen floor. We also recognize something known as Broken Heart Syndrome, which happens in older couples who have been together for a very long time when their partner dies. The second person dies pretty soon after from a broken heart. Research shows that mental stress changes the heart rate and the rhythm of the heart, even in patients without evidence of heart disease or any sort of heart problems. Researchers have shown that mental stress, particularly in patients or people who have a history of arrhythmias, can lead to sudden death. I don’t want that to happen to any of you here. We want to make sure that we’re managing our stress and that we are keeping it under control.
Maria Marlowe: [00:04:22] There’s always gonna be things that are stressful in our lives, but it’s really how we react to them at the chairman’s our own stress level. So I want to share with you four techniques that have been really helpful for me and a lot of my clients as well. And I’m certain that they could be really, really helpful for you as well. So the first technique is not anything active, it’s not meditation, it’s not anything woo woo at all. It’s changing your mindset. This may seem a little weird because again, I think our inclination to stress is typically to exercise or to meditate or to do some sort of physical activity. But the truth is that we can stop the stress before it even starts. So those things are great for lowering our stress levels. But how about we keep them low, to begin with? We don’t raise them. And the way that we do that is through our mindset. So a few years back, actually, when I was studying, one of the books that were recommended was a book by an author called Byron Katie. And the book is called Loving What Is. And this book really changed my life. And it’s one that I recommend to anyone who is dealing with a very stressful career or a stressful life in general. After you read it, you cannot help but look at your life and look at things differently.
Maria Marlowe: [00:05:53] So basically the premise of it is this we live in a world where there are constant stressors, whether it’s things that work. It’s things in our relationship. It’s just things, you know, paying bills, et cetera. And so we’re always going to have these things. But the event in and of itself is not actually stressful, so, for example, think about two people. Both got a new shiny sports car. One person park it somewhere and comes back and there is a big scratch or dent in it. Somebody hit the car and then just left. And what do they do? They go berserk. They go crazy. They start turning red. They start screaming and cursing. Their blood pressure is going up. Right. You could see it just by looking at them. And they let this external trigger, this event, this someone hitting their car and scratching their car. They let that event really stress them out. And then there could be that other person who also got a shiny new sports car, but who has a very different outlook on life. When they returned to the car after they parked it somewhere and they find a big dent or scratch in it, instead of going ballistic and letting that event negatively affect them, they think, oh, hey, it’s just a car. Oh, well, I’ll get it fixed. So the same event happened, but their reaction to it was very different. And it’s our reaction to the events that are happening around us that are what’s stressing us out. It’s not the event in and of itself.
Maria Marlowe: [00:07:36] So you can really apply this across the board. And I know your thing, you know that actually I do have real stress. I do have real things that stress me out. And I’m sure I believe we definitely have things that stress you out, but it’s because of the way you’re perceiving it. And if you were to step back and to look at things a little bit differently, I bet that it would stress you less. So if you’re someone who does tend to be stressed out all of the time. I highly, highly recommend this book, Loving. What is the second technique that I think is really powerful for reducing stress is also one of the simplest. Completely free, just like the first one, but also very impactful. And that is to simply breathe more deeply into your belly, not into your chest. I think people who are stressed on a regular basis tend to forget how to breathe. If you look at a little baby, you’ll notice if they’re just laying down on their back and they’re breathing, you’re going to notice that their stomach goes up and down, up and down, up and down. And that is the way that we are supposed to breathe. However, when we’re living in these big cities, we’re living in very hectic times and a hectic environment and everything is rushed and go, go, go. And there’s all these deadlines and a million tasks to do. Our body becomes a little bit tighter on our breathing becomes a bit shorter.
Maria Marlowe: [00:09:06] And what happens is we take more shallow breaths and we really breathe only into our lungs. So this is something that I was guilty of, probably I have no idea, probably since I’m like 16 years old or something. And I only realized last year was that I was breathing only into my chest and not into my belly. And we don’t want to do this because when we do this, our body is basically and fight or flight mode. So short, short breaths are are great for certain situations like when you’re in fight or flight mode and you need to do something quickly. But in our everyday life, when we’re calm and relaxed, we should be breathing into our stomach. Take a little pulse, check if you’re not even sure which one you do, simply stick your hand on your chest and breathe in and out. If your hand moves at all, you’re breathing into your chest. If you were like me and you breathe into your chest on a regular basis, it will take a little bit of time. Not too long, like a week or two to kind of retrain yourself, to breathe into your stomach, and you have to be really conscious of it and actively remember to breathe into your stomach. But once you get it, it will become second nature once again. And when we do this, that automatically just calms our body down. You know, when someone’s really stressed out, what do we tell them? Take long, deep breaths.
Maria Marlowe: [00:10:28] What if we just took long, deep breaths all day long? Would that help us? Yes, it would. It would definitely help us feel a bit more calm, feel a little bit more relaxed and less anxious. So that’s a really good technique. Something you can work on every day is making sure that you’re breathing into your belly and not into your chest. The third technique is related to the last one, and that is when you’re in an actual stressful situation. So the first two are really to do now or to do at any time. And these are gonna be great preventives of stress. But this technique is for at the moment. So when you experience a stressful situation, you stop and pause for a second. You could close your eyes if you want to and breathe in for a certain count and then breathe out for one count longer. So, for example, you can breathe in for a count of five and then out for a count of six or breathe and for a count of six and out for a count of seven. And sounds really simple, but again, that just really forces us to slow our breathing and to breathe a little bit deeper.
Maria Marlowe: [00:11:38] And that is going to help calm us down to now. You can do this before you do a meditation or you really could do this at any point in time. But especially when you’re in a you find yourself in a stressful situation and you want to reach for the chocolate or you want to reach for some sort of comfort food or you want to let your eyes bolt out of your head and start getting angry. Just pause for a second and do this slow breathing for just a couple minutes and then you can go back and reassess the situation and figure out what you want to do next. The fourth technique is simply to move your body. We all know exercise helps us reduce our stress hormone levels, but it doesn’t have to be a vigorous workout.
Maria Marlowe: [00:12:25] And actually for some people, a vigorous workout will actually stress you out more, right? If you have adrenal fatigue. You don’t want to overexert yourself. But you don’t have to do a hard workout class to get the benefits simply going for a walk. It could be the movement that you need. Also getting the fresh air that could be enough to help you reduce some stress. Also dancing. This is a very, very effective stress reliever and really helps boost your mood. It helps us feel happier. And it’s something I don’t think we do enough at all. So I’ve been going to Tony Robbins conferences for the past couple of years. I’ve been to about three. And the first time I went, I had no idea what to expect. And I was actually quite surprised when I was there.
Maria Marlowe: [00:13:14] And I realized that 75 percent of the conference he had the audience jumping up and down, dancing, high fiving people, hugging people, but mostly dancing. And the reason for that is that your physicality or physical movements, what however your hold in your body or what you’re doing with your body, changes your mood and changes your confidence. It changes your drive. A change is really everything. There are whole experts that are body language experts.
Maria Marlowe: [00:13:45] And even just to a normal person, we know when someone’s hunched over and sort of trying to make themselves small and light closed off. We know we think of them as not confident and sad or not very happy. Right. But when someone walks really tall with their head held high in their chest out and they command a presence and you know, when they walk into the room, everyone looks at them. Why is that? They haven’t said a word yet. It’s simply their body language. So when it comes to movement, it comes to dancing. It just really helps us feel happy. And when we feel happy, we can’t be stressed. When you are singing your favorite song at the top of your lungs and dancing to it. It’s impossible to not be happy. It’s impossible to be stressed in that moment. And so Tony is a big proponent of a lot of movement and making sure that you move your body every day. And I also believe the same.
Maria Marlowe: [00:14:41] I do think that dancing is one of the best ways, of course, you could exercise. But even if you do exercise, there is nothing wrong with taking a dance break in the middle of the day, setting an alarm for five minutes. Or maybe it’s even just one song for three minutes. And you just whenever you’re feeling a little low or you’re getting in a rut, just dancing to your favorite song, you could dance completely on your own or shut your office door. Do it on your own. No one has to see you. Or you could go to a class after work. You could at home watch YouTube video and try to teach yourself the choreography. If you’re into dance. So there’s many ways that you can do it. You don’t have to look good. You don’t have to be a good dancer. You just have to dance.
Maria Marlowe: [00:15:23] The biggest takeaway from this episode is that we will all and inevitably. and counter stressors in our everyday life. But how we react to them is our choice. It’s up to us to fill our toolbox with techniques that are going to help us stay calm and grounded and undeterred. I encourage you to start right away by immediately shifting your mindset around stress. Check out that book that I mentioned, if that appeals to you. And then also incorporating daily techniques like dancing or just the deep breathing into your life and see how that changes things. See how you feel. I’m positive that if you incorporate these techniques into your life, you will stress less and be happy more.
Maria Marlowe: [00:16:10] If your health or weight or simply healthy eating, in general, is stressing you out, head to mariamarlowe.com/eat-slim for details on my 10 week online nutrition and cooking course. It’s called Eat Slim. But it’s about so much more than slimming down. It’s about using food as medicine to feel better both mentally and physically. After completing it, you’ll have all the tools you need to look and feel your best, eliminating at least one source of stress from your life.