8 Stylish Stress Management Tips

8 Stylish Stress Management Tips(Source: Ohpix/Bauer Griffin)

You know the feeling. Your heart speeds up, palms sweat, mind in spin cycle. Your body's telling you something: yup, you're stressed. Join the club.

"When we are stressed, the blood from the internal organs is sent to the limbs for ‘fight or flight’, and the nervous system is ramped up from a flood of cortisol, adrenaline or norepinephrine," explains Karen Nourizadeh, a Pure Yoga instructor who also leads popular stress management workshops. "Some physiological symptoms include constant movement of the limbs, twitching, rubbing, playing with things, feet tapping, eyes fluttering, lack of ability to sit still, stuttering, inability to speak coherently, disorganized, anxious, feelings of overwhelmed or depression, sighing, sweating, insomnia, loss of short-term memory." 
Good times.

While celebs like Erin Heatherton (above) know that maintaining an active fitness routine is one key to reducing stress levels, in today's chaotic world, coping with stress can require more than a few sun salutations. (Yoga helps, though––
the practice is unique among workouts in that even in its more vigorous forms, it also stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system––responsible for relaxation in the body and for releasing hormones that are the opposite of that "fight or flight" response.)

8 Stylish Stress Management Tips (Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America)

So, why are so many of us so darned stressed? While causes vary, "Most commonly, stress arises from a lack of focus or concentration, the pulling or averting of our five senses, poor diet, exercise and sleep habits, lack of inner purpose or fulfillment, resisting our true selves and the fast-pace of modern society and technology," Nourizadeh says, pointing out that many of us simply haven't been taught how to deal with people or situations that incite us to react with stress responses. Additionally, she explains, since our reactive patterns are established during early childhood and traumatic events, changing those neural pathways of reactivity, "such as explosiveness, withdrawal, anger, blame and shame," can seem like a scary, full-time job. Easier to ignore it than dive into those murky waters towards consciousness.

The good news is, like playing the piano or walking a runway, stress management can be learned; new habits formed. And quickly. The results will help you feel beautiful, inside and out.

Says Nourizadeh, "When stress is reduced, the mind is more receptive to inner fulfillment and ‘going with the flow’, the physical body becomes more relaxed and stronger, the nervous, immune, respiratory, digestive, metabolic and circulatory systems perform with increased function, one’s mental attitude is more positive, inflammatory and autoimmune responses are reduced, sleep becomes more restful, pounds of weight begin to shed, the heart, lungs and internal organs are performing with increased function and, the skin and mind are clearer and more flexible."

Here are 8 tips to help manage stress, the stylish way:

1) Exercise, Eat Well, Sleep, and Breathe Right
Robin DeMarco, a NYC-based life coach, reminds us that exercise even benefits the mind by releasing tension. "Even a twenty minute walk, run, or dance session can have immediate stress reducing effects," she says. "The body needs to recover at night. To promote better sleep, keep a notebook by your bed and write all your to-do’s down on paper before you go to bed which will help clear your mind." And don't forget to breathe. "Deep breathing slows down the heart rate and lowers blood pressure allowing you to relax immediately. Meditation is also a major stress reducer, but if this is intimidating, even lying down and listening to your favorite music helps clear your head and promotes calm."

2) Live In the Now
Sounds hokey, there's but nothing new age about simply focusing your attention on the present moment. This focus also helps calm the mind (much anxiety is caused by worrying about the past or future) and connects you to your body, which is always in the now. Nourizadeh agrees. "If one can focus the mind in the present moment throughout the day, one can begin to control the diffusion of energy which leaks into worrying over past or future issues. Pulled away by sensorial pleasures or aversions, our power becomes diffused, and we ‘leak’ energy, becoming reactive and toxic to ourselves."

How to remedy this dire state of affairs? "To see where focus is lost daily, observe one or two habitual stress responses to certain people, situations or things that occur in your life daily. Try to create healthy boundaries around that something you can manage––like having one cup of coffee per day, versus two."

3) Think Positive
Another cliché that's totally true. Not sure how to make the switch from negative to positive thinking? DeMarco has an idea. "Write down three things that you are grateful for every day. Research shows this helps reframe your thinking and lessens stress as you shift your focus to what is actually working in your life."

4) Break it Down
"Break huge tasks and stresses into manageable steps," says DeMarco. "Ask yourself, 'What is the next physical action that I need to take to move this stressful situation forward?'"

5) Say No/ Nurture Yourself
"Don’t over commit yourself, know your limits and stick to them," DeMarco says. "Nurturing yourself is a necessity and should be as important as that key meeting with your boss."

6) Connect With Others
Another gem from DeMarco: "Having a strong social support system and feeling valued and connected to those that you love is really important in times of stress. A vent session with your girlfriend can do wonders."

7) Have Fun
"Make time for hobbies and leisure activities," DeMarco advises. "Schedule things that you enjoy and commit to it, whether art, music, dance, sports, etc..."

8) Rinse, Repeat.
Remember, it takes 21 days to break a new habit, or so Jay Z and Beyonce's trainer Marco Borges proclaimed when the hot power couple went vegan for three weeks in December. Says Nourizadeh, "A healthy, positive habit must be reinforced again and again, in order to establish a non-reactive pattern and new neural pathway. Start with choosing to reduce some small stressor. Empowered, you will start to form a foundation from which you can feel your ability to manage stress increase."

8 Stylish Stress Management Tips(Source: Christopher Polk/Getty Images North America)