Stress happens when you perceive that you’re unable to cope with the demands (like work, school or relationships) that life has placed upon you. Although some stress can be helpful sometimes – especially if it gives people that boost to get through tough situations – too much stress can have an adverse effect on one’s health and well-being. Chronic stress, if left untreated, can result in serious health conditions like hypertension, insomnia, anxiety and a weakened immune system. Various research have also shown that stress is a big factor in the development of major illnesses including depression, obesity and heart disease. Fortunately, there are simple and healthy steps we can take to manage stress as it occurs. And by doing so, we can reduce many of these health consequences. Here are 9 simple steps you can do to reduce stress.
9) Listening to music.
Research shows that playing calm and soothing music can not only lower blood pressure, it can also reduce cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. So the next time you find yourself being overwhelmed by a stressful situation, take a break and listen to some relaxing music.
8) Getting social support.
When you feel stress building up, it’s always a good idea to call a friend or loved one and talk about your problems. A healthy relationship with family and friends is good for everyone, especially during trying times. Having someone reassure you that everything is going to be okay really helps in putting things in perspective.
7) Talking yourself through stress.
When calling a friend or a loved is not an option, the next best thing is to talk calmly to yourself. Don’t worry about looking like a crazy person. Just gently and soothingly tell yourself why you’re feeling stressed, what needs to be done to accomplish the task at hand, and most important of all, that things are going to be okay.
6) Having a proper diet.
Eating right and stress levels are interrelated. When we’re stressed out or overwhelmed, we tend to not only overeat or undereat, we’re also more likely to turn to sugary or fatty foods as our comfort food, which can have a negative effect on your glucose levels and intensify our stress more. By eating healthy and nutritious foods, we’re giving our body the fuel it needs to make it through stressful situations.
5) Laughing it off.
Laughter truly is a medicine for the soul. When we laugh, our body releases endorphins, which are our body’s natural painkillers. It also appears to reduce the amount of stress causing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Finally, laughter boosts the activity of our immune system’s defenses against infection and other diseases.
4) Drinking tea.
It’s not a good idea to drink coffee when you’re feeling stressed as caffeine causes your blood pressure to spike temporarily. It also causes your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to go into overdrive which can be harmful to your body. A nice substitute for coffee is green tea. Having just half the amount of caffeine compared to coffee, green tea contains beneficial antioxidants and the amino acid theanine, which calms the body’s nervous system and help alleviate anxiety and stress.
We’re not saying you should train for a marathon or take up CrossFit. A short walk around the block or simply around the office can work wonders in stressful situations. Just like laughing, doing some exercise makes your body release endorphins which improves mood instantaneously.
2) Sleeping better.
Stress, as we all know, can cause us to lose sleep. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is a major contributor to stress. This unhealthy cycle of insomnia throws your mind and body off kilter and should be remedied by learning how to sleep better and getting more sleep.
1) Being mindful.
Scientific evidence from hundreds of universities strongly suggests that mindfulness can not only reduce stress in your life, it also helps you build inner strength so that future stressors will have less impact on your happiness and well-being. Try joining a mindfulness class or you can read some books by Eckhart Tolle to get an idea about mindfulness.