How to lower stress by learning to slow down

Life is undoubtedly full of mayhem. We have traffic jams, are forced to multi-task at work as well as at home, and often find it difficult to even get to sleep as a result.

Here are some tips you can use to teach yourself to de-stress naturally - it involves learning how to slow down. It's important to remember that stress is a major contributor to heart disease.

 Stress alters the body's ability to metabolize properly, reduces mental clarity, promotes hypertension, and may even lead to depression.

Stress, in essence, is a thief - it can rob you of happiness and health, two of your most valuable assets, yet we assume it is just a fact of life.

Recent studies have shown that slow activities, such a yoga, gardening and meditation can actually enhance mental clarity, help with sugar metabolism, and ease chronic pain. The only way to slow down is to make room. - Focus on what is important, and forget about unnecessary activities. If you find that there is nothing to eliminate, you can learn new habits that involve mindfulness.

Here are some tips that may help:

Plant or repot some flowers. One Japanese study from Utsunomiya University found that working with flowers promotes physiological relaxation. Gardening activities have been proven to lower your blood pressure and actually reduce feelings of fatigue. Instead of waiting until the garden is overgrown, existing gardeners should set aside a specific amount of time to enjoy the activity in an unhurried fashion.

If you can't garden due to urban restrictions, you can visit You will find self watering container gardens that anyone can cultivate.

Community gardens are another great way to get involved in this beneficial activity.

Napping, according to studies performed at Harvard, is a great way to boost overall health and reduce stress. The study, from Sara C. Medrick, PhD says: "It shows that napping is an important preventive strategy just like regular exercise, eating right, and not smoking". Sara is the author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life.

A thirty minute nap three times a week lowered the risk of heart attack when compared to those who didn't nap, by 37%. Napping boost the body's levels of serotonin, a natural calmative. A study performed in 2007 in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology, and Metabolism looked at stress and growth hormone levels.

The conclusion was that taking a nap reversed the negative effects of sleep loss and weight gain. It's a great idea to close the office door and take a 15to 20 minute power nap.

Slow Yoga produces awareness of breath, and connects mind and body. It lowers stress and helps develop patience. According to Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, Yoga practice lowers blood pressure and triglycerides, helps reduce waist measurement (a major cardiovascular risk factor), and raises good (HDL) cholesterol.

Find a hobby that takes time, such as knitting, sewing by hand, crocheting, pottery or painting. All of these activities require mindfulness, focus and inner calm.

Meditation also creates focus. It improves blood pressure and creates balance. Meditation comes in many forms. You can sit quietly and focus on anything at all - the hum outside, the birds, your own breath, or the sound of a fan running. Walking meditation is performed during the practice of Tai Chi. A nature walk will do the same, as long as you remain and focus on the moment. Various meditative techniques that can be learned. You may have stared at a campfire and done nothing more - that's basic meditation!

Take time to eat. You cannot burn calories or properly digest if you eat fast. Eating slowly also creates relaxation, and promotes better food choices. If you currently take fifteen minutes for lunch, try a full thirty minutes. Do the same for breakfast - if it's now a ten minute "task, just make it twenty. Avoid microwaving and carry out food whenever possible. The act of cooking will naturally make you slow down.

To add to the list, remember to eliminate unnecessary tasks, find shortcuts such as partially dusting or vacuuming (you can finish the next day). Schedule tasks only as time permits, and be realistic about how long it takes to accomplish what you set out to do. Don't do it if you don't have the time. Above all, ask for help. Remember that you cannot do it all!

Updated 2/26/2016