Traffic jams, deadlines at work, or worry over a loved one’s illness – stress can be caused by a variety of reasons. Before we discuss how to reduce stress though, it is important to understand how it affects your body. When faced with a stressful situation your body releases several hormones – including cortisol – which prepare your body for either “flight or fight.” Remember that stress itself isn’t bad – it is a natural response to situation where we feel threatened or in danger.
Chronic stress occurs when your body feels like it is danger all the time. The American Psychological Association explains that chronic stress can impact your physical, mental, and emotional health. Symptoms of chronic stress range from tension headaches and migraines to difficulty breathing and insomnia. If not addressed, chronic stress can lead to an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses.
Tips for Reducing Stress
While there are plenty of ways you can alleviate stress, we found VeryWell Mind’s approach both practical and useful. Their tips are grouped into categories that can be used based on your situation – quick relief, home-based, and on-going.
Quick Relief Stress Relievers
Anxious about an upcoming meeting at work, or feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list? Use these strategies to help reduce your stress swiftly.
- Meditation. Breathwork is foundational to almost every style of meditation. Deep breathing promotes relaxation, making meditation a great way to relieve stress quickly. Done regularly, meditation can also be a powerful stress management technique. If you are new to meditation, you may want to consider using an app to help you get started. A quick search will show you numerous options that are perfect for beginners.
- Go for a stroll. Exercise is a known stress-reliever and like meditation, offers both instant and long-term stress reduction benefits. Walking doesn’t require special equipment, other than a comfortable pair of shoes and is free. The change of scenery can help clear your head, while helping to improve your mood.
Home-based Stress Relievers
These strategies are especially helpful when you are at home and need a way to relieve stress quickly.
- Ask for a hug. If you are having a bad day, ask a loved one or a close friend for a hug. Research has shown that physical touch is a potent stress reliever – primarily because it promotes the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.
- Channel your creativity. Drawing or coloring have both been shown effective in reducing stress. Not artistic? There are dozens of adult coloring books made especially for individuals who suffer from anxiety or stress. Spending a few minutes before bed coloring can be a great way to unwind and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
On-going Stress Reduction Strategies
In addition to exercising and meditating regularly, there are ways you can manage your stress levels effectively.
- Eat a balanced diet. Consuming a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can lower inflammation levels in your body. While more research needs to be done, a recent study suggests that the Mediterranean diet may improve stress resilience, as well as lower levels of cortisol.
- Be grateful. Developing a habit of gratitude – either by journaling, praying, or meditating on what you are grateful for – can help you put your struggles into perspective. People who practice gratitude typically have lower amounts of stress, and a better quality of life.
More Health & Nutrition Tips for You
Learn more about staying healthy with our blog. From information about stretching to tips on improving your quality of sleep, you’ll find something to help you feel your best.