Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.
Stress isn’t always bad for you. Stress is a feeling of physical and emotional tension. There are good stressors and bad ones. Good stressors are the ones that provide us with motivation in order to accomplish the task at hand. Stress is a natural part of our lives but can get quite overwhelming. We lead such hectic lives that we forget to take out time for ourselves and our mental health. It is important that we learn how to reduce the various stressors in our lives and our reactions to them.
High stress can arise out of major life changes such as a death in the family, a breakup or a divorce, shifting, loss of a job, and even a serious illness. Prolonged stressors can lead to physical, emotional, and mental burnout. This means feeling exhausted even after being well-rested, not being able to deal with even the smallest tasks at hand. Stress is very bad for your health. It can lead to hypertension, heart disease, increased risk of cardiac arrest, and much more.
There are a lot of symptoms that you can see with prolonged stress such as headaches, exhaustion, chest pain, body aches, memory loss and confusion, muscle tension, stomach problems, and even a weaker immune system. It is vital that we find healthy coping mechanisms to help us deal with the stressors in our lives.
Start exercising regularly
Did you know that your daily level of exercise can impact your quality and duration of sleep? Regular exercise can lead to better sleep, leading to better stress management. A study conducted in 2019 showed that the participants who were exercising regularly for a period of 30 days showed a significant reduction in stress levels compared to the participants who did little to no physical activity.
Exercising also helps release endorphins in the body. These are called happy hormones, they help elevate our mood and reduce levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a stress-producing hormone. Exercising also helps block out the pain from various parts of the body by releasing endocannabinoids that can attach themselves to receptors to improve sleep and pain perception. You must have heard about “runner’s high’. This is a result of endorphins being released in your body.
Even if you do not have a formal exercise program, you can find different and unique ways to help you move throughout the day. Small lifestyle changes such as cycling to the store, using the stairs and not the elevator, and even cleaning your house can be counted as moving your body. Exercise in any form such as swimming, running, or even yoga is a great way to reduce your stress levels.
Have a good and healthy diet
A major thing that we forget to focus on when we are stressed out is our diet. Most people tend to flock towards oily and processed foods as an unhealthy way of coping with all of the stress in their lives. If you do not have a healthy diet, you can actually worsen your stress levels. Junk food makes you feel good only for a little bit and then all the sugar makes your body crash down, wanting to eat more junk food. If you replace all of this with a healthy and good diet, it can do wonders for you. A healthy diet has the ability to build up the immune system, improve our skin, better our mood, and even lower our blood pressure. Sugar and fat have the exact opposite effect on our bodies.
It is important to look for things such as complex carbohydrates to keep you satiated. The omega-3 found in fish is also quite beneficial. Have a diet that has a ton of antioxidants to help protect your cells against chronic damage. You can find this in foods such as berries, vegetables, ginger, and beans. Make a shopping list before you hit the grocery store. Know what all ingredients you need. Switch out chips and junk food for healthier snacks such as hummus and baby carrots.
A ton of research shows how aromatherapy can help improve our stress levels. Aromatherapy can help alter brain waves and in turn, our behavior. You can use various natural essential oils for aromatherapy, but Lavender seems to work best for stress relief. Remember that different scents bring out different feelings, so feel free to explore and see which suits you best. If you use essential oils for your massages, it provides better relief from fatigue. Aromatherapy has been proven effective in lowering down cortisol and increasing contentment.
Get consistent and good quality sleep
You may struggle to fall asleep if you are dealing with high levels of stress. It is important to create good sleep hygiene so that you can wake up energized rather than exhausted every morning. Sleep and stress have a very dependent relationship, so if you increase your sleep you will end up lowering your stress. In order to get better sleep, exercise regularly, have a healthy diet, meditate, get your fill of sunlight, have a consistent bedtime, and do not have any alcohol or caffeine in the evening. Your sleeping environment is also an essential part of your sleep hygiene. It is important that you go into your room only to sleep and not to eat or work. Keep the environment cool and dark in order to promote relaxation. Have a good and firm mattress that provides lumbar support.
Use some relaxation techniques
Techniques such as Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation are a great way of promoting relaxation. Your body cannot be tense and relaxed at the same time. If you force your body to relax, you are automatically removing the tension from your body. This technique involves tensing up and then relaxing all parts of your body in a proper sequence. Most people start from the toes and go up to the head. This has been proven by many studies to be amazing for relieving stress.
It is important that we take out time for ourselves so that we can lower down our stress levels. Remember to take a break or even help when you need it.