We all deal with stress in our daily lives, whether it comes from work, school, taking care of family, social engagements or finances. Often times, we resort to unhealthy habits as a means of coping with stress, which can backfire and cause even more stress! Breaking that vicious cycle is critical to becoming our happiest, healthiest selves. Here are 5 simple and effective ways to manage the stress in your life.
Exercise releases nature’s best “happy drug,” serotonin. All those endorphins that are released when you raise your heart rate help to reduce stress and brain fog. When you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, consider going for a brisk walk around the office. Can’t get away from your desk? Sign up for a workout class, like yoga, kickboxing, or cycling before or after work and make it a regular routine. Whatever it is, pick an activity you enjoy so you’re more likely to stick to it.
Meditation is considered a “mind-body medicine.” Meditation takes the mind to a deep state of relaxation through breathing and mindfulness. Mastering the art of meditation takes lots of time and practice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from just a few minutes a day. Find some time every day to close your eyes and breathe deeply. This will give you a sense of calm and improve your ability to deal with stress.
There is nothing like a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation is detrimental to your physical and mental health and it makes you more susceptible to being irritable, foggy and stressed out. And of course, when you are stressed, it is harder to get a good night’s sleep, creating a vicious cycle. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and practice good sleep hygiene, including finding ways to de-stress before you go to sleep. You will be less stressed during the day and will be able to sleep better at night.
Eat a Healthy Diet
When we are stressed, many of us turn to “comfort” foods like macaroni and cheese, pizza and ice cream. However, foods high in sugar or fat are usually the worst choices because they leave us feeling sluggish and less able to deal with stress. A diet rich in veggies, fruit, healthy fats and lean protein will make you feel great inside and out and therefore more capable of handling stressful situations. So next time you feel stressed, try reaching for an apple or a healthy nutrition bar and leave the candy bar behind.
Talk it Out
Engaging with close friends and family and talking about your worries can be very cathartic and calming. Remember that you are not alone in dealing with stress, and having a support system has amazing health benefits. Emotional support even has physical benefits as it reverses the cardiovascular and immune responses to stress. So stop bottling everything up and talk it out!
We would love to hear from you about what you do to reduce stress in your life. Share your secrets in the comments below.