Stress is something we all deal with in one way or another at some point in our lives. Whether it’s caused by health problems, financial issues, work pressures, or family and relationship problems, stress can affect every part of your life and has been linked to many serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer.
Luckily, there are tons of things you can do to manage the stress in your life so that it doesn’t have such a negative impact on your physical and mental health! In this guide, I’ll be covering three simple but effective ways to manage stress so that you can live healthier and happier.
What is Stress?
First, it’s important to know that stress isn’t actually a thing—it’s just your body’s reaction to an outside stimulus. Stress can be positive (like, say, stress that gives you extra energy for your workday) or negative (like stress that keeps you up at night because you feel like you have too much on your plate).
How exactly does it do that? According to Healthline, Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals called neurotransmitters; they transmit information between neurons. The main one involved in stress is norepinephrine. Basically, certain hormones trigger reactions in your body based on how you react mentally.
In a nutshell, stress is triggered when your brain perceives a threat. When that happens, two important things happen. The first is that your body releases hormones into your bloodstream that prepare you for action by increasing heart rate and blood pressure and readying other organs in your body.
Second, a part of your brain called the amygdala triggers a fight-or-flight response in which your sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear—slowing down digestion and metabolism while revving up energy supplies in anticipation of whatever action you need to take.
As long as everything goes back to normal, it’s not necessarily a bad thing—but chronic stress can lead to more serious problems over time.
Some of the side effects are:
- digestive problems
- weight gain
- low energy
- poor sleep
- weakened bones
- a weakened immune system
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
1) Eat Right
Just like you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, it’s impossible to de-stress if you don’t eat right. Getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy level of physical activity all help regulate your body and mind; they also allow you to stay focused on what matters most in your day.
Make sure that your eating plan is always conducive to stress management by avoiding stressful foods—like junk food or sugar—and incorporating plenty of fruits and veggies into every meal. It may not seem like much, but even small steps towards better nutrition are an important piece of reducing daily stress. The more easily digestible your meals are, for example, the less anxious you’ll feel.
And remember: always drink lots of water! Dehydration leads to tension headaches and dehydration causes stress! So make sure you’re drinking at least eight glasses of water a day (or another half-gallon if possible).
2) Exercise Regularly
According to a recent study, people who exercise regularly have lower levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. Regular workouts also help your body respond to stressful situations by boosting blood flow and energy. If you’re not exercising on a regular basis, take some time and find an activity that you enjoy doing (and be sure to read up on proper form and technique). The more frequently you can fit it into your schedule, the better!
The best part is that exercise actually improves your health in lots of other ways. Find some workout routines here.
Start Your Day With a Morning Ritual: According to researchers, morning rituals (or habits) can help you feel calmer and less stressed all day long—even when faced with tough situations. There are tons of ways you can start your day with a morning ritual, like drinking tea or coffee, eating breakfast or even taking a walk outside. Find an activity that makes you happy and set aside time in your calendar for it.
Just be sure to keep it consistent!
Try waking up early enough so that you have time for it every single day, no matter what else is going on. This will help put things into perspective and prepare you for whatever challenges come up during the rest of your day.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on present experiences without judgment or reaction. In other words, mindfulness allows you to live in the moment and appreciate what’s going on around you. If you’re constantly being swept up in stressful thoughts, mindfulness can help quiet your mind and give you some much-needed space from your problems.
Mindfulness meditation is a great way to experience mindfulness for yourself! It involves sitting quietly with your eyes closed while focusing on breathing for a short period of time each day (usually 10 minutes). A lot of people get caught up in distractions while meditating at first, but don’t worry—you will get better over time if you keep it up! Meditation also comes with some health benefits that can make it easier for you to handle stress down the road too.
Cortisol levels rise when faced with chronic stress. That’s why it’s so important to keep stress levels under control if you want your body and mind at their best.
And remember: if you ever feel like things are getting too overwhelming, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a professional!