Are you stressed? Not to make you even more stressed, but recent studies have found that chronic stress not only raises our risk for a cardiac event but it can also wreak havoc on our gut resulting in food allergies, reflux, gastritis and more. According to a recent study, stress appears to be related to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease! Fortunately, new research shows that our brain has the capacity for regeneration. If your stress is getting out of control make a point to get a hold on it before it gets the best of you. Below are a few techniques proven to help alleviate stress.
Any form of physical activity works as a potent stress reliever. Even if you’re out of shape, have an injury; hate the thought of exercise; whatever- there’s still something that you can do to move. The trick is to do something you feel good doing so that you want to keep doing it! Getting active enhances our endorphins and other neurochemicals that improve our overall sense of well-being. Consider anything that gets you active- walking, jogging, gardening, housecleaning, biking, swimming, weightlifting, dancing, etc. The main idea is to move, so do something that you enjoy!
When you laugh, it not only lightens your mental load but also causes positive physical changes in your body. Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response. So read some jokes, tell some jokes, watch a comedy or hang out with some shiny happy people.
CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Social contact is a good stress reliever because it offers distraction, provides support, and helps you tolerate life’s up and downs. Processing stressful situations with others, we can often times come to our own solutions and receive feedback from those we trust. Make a point to reach out to family and healthy friends to make social connections- send a quick email or text, or better yet give them a call, meet a friend for lunch, or visit your place of worship.
You might want to do it all, but you can’t, at least not without paying a huge price. Learning to say no, rearranging your to-do list, putting aside certain lingering projects, or being willing to delegate can all help you manage your stress level. Studies have shown that people that live a more “simple” life are often times not only happier, but healthier as well.
With its series of postures and controlled-breathing exercises, yoga is a popular stress reliever. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety. One of the best benefits of yoga includes deep breathing, which alone does wonders for our stress level.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep suffers. The quality and amount of sleep you get affects your mood, energy level, concentration and overall functioning. If you have sleep troubles, make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine, listen to soothing music and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
KEEP A JOURNAL
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up emotions. Don’t think about what to write — just let it happen. Once you’re done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to reflect on later.
GET MUSICAL OR BE CREATIVE
Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it provides a mental distraction, reduces muscle tension and decreases stress hormones. If music isn’t your thing, turn your attention to another hobby you enjoy, such as gardening, painting, etc — anything that requires you to focus on what you’re doing rather than what you think you should be doing.
TAKE A HOT BATH
Submerging yourself in a hot bath can help to melt away the worries of the day by relaxing the body. For added benefit- try adding some relaxing essential oils such as lavender (my personal fav!) to your bath.
GET A MASSAGE
Stress is crazy! It can actually sink into our body causing knots in our muscles and problems with our posture. Take some time out of your day to schedule a massage or just get a friend or loved one (or sit on one of those fancy massage chairs!) to rub that tightness away.
ENROLL YOURSELF IN THERAPY
If new stressors are challenging your ability to cope or if self-care measures just aren’t relieving your stress, you may need to look for reinforcements in the form of therapy or counseling. Therapy also may be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed or trapped, if you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school. Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
Tips on LIVING FRESH with minimal stress:
- Get active every day to get those endorphins flowing.
- If by the end of your day, you haven’t had a good laugh than watch or listen to something you find funny and make a point to be a little more light-hearted the next day.
- Reach out to at least 1-2 friends or family members daily. Make a connection.
- Are you asserting yourself? Feel over-extended? Find out what needs to come off of your to-do list or delegate for right now until you have more space and energy to donate to that cause.
- Sign yourself up for a weekly yoga class J.
- How’s your sleep? Make sure you are getting those 6-9 hours in. If not- read this! And find a remedy!
- Process your emotions. Put them into a journal, voice record, or meet with a qualified therapist.
- Take your mind away. Spend more time with your favorite hobby or listen to your favorite music…and breathe!
- Soften up those tense muscles ASAP! Take a bath, Jacuzzi or get a good rub down. Do what you have to do to soften that stress! It’s a killer…literally!