As medical researchers learn more about the role stress plays in our overall health it becomes more obvious that stress is a potential killer. In addition to increasing the chances of having a heart attack, stroke or other serious medical problem, stress can also impact your mental health. A study from 2010 found that chronic stress has a negative impact on memory. Demanding jobs, busy schedules, financial difficulties and relationship problems are just a small sampling of stress triggers that can result in chronic stress. These simple methods can be used by anyone to reduce stress, and therefore reduce the chances of serious health problems.
1. Break out the iPod
Listening to music can help you lower stress and put you in a better mood. Obviously, selecting soothing music is better than putting on something like heavy metal in most cases. Everyone is different, so there may be people out there who feel relaxed listening to Metallica. For most people, classical music or even recordings of nature sounds like ocean waves or birds singing are probably the best ways to relax.
Ringing up a friend on the phone and chatting for a bit can help reduce stress levels. Sharing some of your troubles with someone you trust may help ease your anxiety, and perhaps even provide the benefit of some good advice and suggestions for your situation. Even a brief conversation with a close friend or loved one can help you put things in perspective.
3. A conversation with yourself
It may seem a bit odd to some people, but talking to yourself can actually help you relax. Talking to yourself about your situation and suggesting various solutions can have a calming effect and help you think more clearly. It’s important under these circumstances to reassure yourself and remind yourself that you will work through your problems and things will work out for the better.
The food industry doesn’t do us any favors by promoting highly-processed, sugary food and making it so readily available anywhere they can think of. Keeping stress under control is much easier with the benefit of a healthy diet that avoids the kinds of snack foods and beverages most often found in vending machines and fast food restaurants. Make an effort to arrange for your own snacks ahead of time and include things like fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Water or even flavored sparkling water is a much better choice when compared to soda and other sweetened drinks when you are thirsty.
5. The best medicine?
There’s an old saying that suggests laughter as the best medicine, and although that may be somewhat overstated, there’s no doubt that a good laugh can help you reign in stress. Laughing results in the release of endorphins, those “feel good” hormones that will help banish stress and anxiety. Got a favorite comedy movie or jokes website that gives you the LOLs? Check it out when you are feeling wound up and have a good laugh.
6. Tea time
As almost everyone knows, coffee is a very popular beverage in offices everywhere. Since caffeine can raise blood pressure and increases levels of stress-related hormones, switching to a beverage like green tea may help keep stress at bay. Green tea has much less caffeine and proves the added benefit of an amino acid which can help quiet the nervous system and reduce stress.
7. Stress Relief: Meditation
Signing up for a meditation, yoga or tai chi class can help you maintain a higher level of “mindfulness” which will help you keep tabs on your stress level. This approach is more of a lifestyle change which can help you handle situations better and head off stress before it even starts.
The benefits of exercise are many, but some people may not realize that improving your mood may be among them. A short jog, a walk or even standing up from your office chair and doing a few stretches can benefit your mood. Exercise also triggers the release of those “feel good” endorphins which can help you feel better almost immediately.
9. Get enough sleep
Depriving yourself of the sleep you need can turn into a vicious cycle of stress. It’s no secret that feeling stressed can keep you awake at night, but not getting enough sleep can also increase stress levels. It can become a cycle that’s difficult to break. We all know it can be difficult to get into bed at the right time because there is so often that “one more thing” we want to do before we retire for the night. Getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep will make it easier to avoid feeling stressed.
10. Give yourself a break
Grinding through work non-stop at break-neck speed is a sure fire way to make yourself more susceptible to stress. A short 10 or 15-minute break can help you refocus yourself and give you a much-needed respite from a hectic workday. It may seem impossible at times to break away for a short period, but you’ll benefit from it in the long run, and will be better prepared to tackle that stack of work when your break is over.