Unfortunately, stress is normal. We all wish it wasn’t. However, for our protection, our brains are hard-wired with an alarm system. When our brains detect a threat, it cues our body to release hormones which then show signs of stress, such as increased heart rate and raised blood pressure. This is all well and good, at times, but when our bodies don’t get a break from one stressful situation to another, we can potentially damage our bodies. Chronic stress can lead to serious health problems. Here are a few ways you can battle stress...
To some, this may be silly or you may feel it won’t work, however, studies show it does! “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” says psychologists, Robbie Maller Hartman. Just a few minutes a day can help mitigate anxiety.
2. Breathe Deeply
Take a few minutes each day focusing on your breathing. It is important that you have a quiet area to escape to. If you don’t, then really focus on your body and the deep breaths you take.
“Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure,” says psychologist, Judith Tutin.
3. Be Present
Slow down. When you decide to slow down, focus on what you are doing, preferably during an enjoyable activity (i.e. being outdoors, watching your kids play, eating dessert, etc.). When you spend the time focusing on these moments, you should feel less stress.
Judith Tutin says, “Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behavior with awareness.” Notice how the cool breeze feels against your face when you are out walking; notice your children’s beautiful smiles when they look at you; enjoy the taste of your favorite dessert.
Here are a few ways you can decompress. Place a warm towel around your neck and shoulders for five to ten minutes. Close your eyes and relax your body. Once the time is up, grab a tennis ball and massage any tension in your back.
Another way is to disconnect for a while. Turn off your phone and computer and get away from the online world. In addition to this, you can go for a walk, read a book, or have a conversation with a good friend.
They say laughter is the best medicine. Laughing boosts chemicals called endorphins which are connected to your mood and how you feel and act. As a result, laughing lowers cortisol, which is your body’s stress hormone.
Some good ways to laugh are watching your favorite comedy sitcom or movie, or spending time with friends and family who make you happy.
6. Time for Music
Many people will decide which kinds of music they prefer to help them decompress, but studies do show that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, anxiety, and heart rate.
If you decide to listen to calming music or nature sounds, focus on the different melodies, instruments, birds chirping, or waves crashing.
7. Get Moving
You don’t necessarily need to run to lower your stress. There are many forms of exercise that will help with anxiety.
Activities like yoga, walking, biking and even stretching can help with stress. The main point here is to do an activity that you enjoy that gets you moving.
For more information, check out this video from WebMD Countdown on "3 Ways to Cut Stress":