How to Ditch Stress: 6 Tips for Living Stress-FreeArticle posted in: Lifestyle
Stress starts as a nagging feeling that quickly develops into a malicious strain on everyday life, wreaking havoc on our mental and physical wellbeing. According to a recent Gallup poll, eight in 10 Americans experience stress on a daily basis due to work, children and other responsibilities. Symptoms of stress can manifest in every part of our lives and cause us to overeat, lose sleep, act out and become our own worst enemy–keeping us from reaching our goals.
In a society where we all stress over our weight, work and relationships, how do we manage this never-ending cycle of anxious feelings and take back control of our lives? Find out how to handle negative, stressful symptoms before they start, so you can prevent the seed of stress from taking root in your daily life.
Check out these 6 strategies to help you deal with stress:
1. Take time for silent meditation.
Meditation allows us to develop focus and concentrate on our present feelings to push out pestering negative thoughts. For those of us with stressful jobs or hectic home lives, meditation can be a beneficial practice to help us reconnect with our inner selves and redirect our thoughts to a more positive channel. A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that an eight-week silence-oriented meditation program was an effective strategy for reducing feelings of stress and depression in full-time workers.
2. Get moving.
Exercise offers obvious benefits to your physical health, but according to Healthline, it can also help your mental health by naturally improving your moods, increasing the quality of your sleep and lowering your body’s stress hormone levels. Mayo Clinic furthers this notion—after any form of exercise, your body releases endorphins that send happy messages to your brain to immediately stimulate good moods, so you can leave bad thoughts behind. In the long-term, exercise can lower the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in your body. Regular exercise will also improve the length and duration of your sleep, which will help you avoid the stress, anxiety and sluggish feelings associated with poor sleep.
3. Find comfort in the right foods.
Eating food for emotional gratification or personal comfort is usually never a good idea. But according to Physiology & Behavior, when we’re stressed out, certain foods and drinks can counteract the stress hormones in our bodies and stop the symptoms–like overeating–before they start. Many of us can admit to binge eating when we’re feeling anxious, and because the hormone cortisol makes food taste better when we’re stressed, we need to find foods that will calm our nerves and contribute to lowering stress levels. If you’re feeling frazzled or frustrated, brew a warm cup of herbal tea for a relaxing effect to expel your anxious feelings. Chocolate lovers can treat themselves in moments of mental chaos because the antioxidants found in dark chocolate can actually lower stress hormones in the body. Also, according to Everyday Health, avocados and fatty fish contain high levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids that can alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety, while enhancing your focus and good moods.
4. Find a friendly face.
Whether it’s your pet, your mom or your best friend, research shows that friends and family members (both humans and pets) can actually decrease feelings of anxiety related to stress. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that interactions with animals had beneficial effects on stress levels in participants. After spending time with pets, our bodies increase oxytocin levels, a hormone responsible for lowering stress hormones and increasing positive moods. As it turns out, oxytocin is also released when we spend time with friends, family and children, as shown by a study published in Psychological Review. When you’re feeling anxious or frustrated, seek the company of your pets and family to help you eliminate stress so you can remember what’s most important in life.
5. Practice deep breathing with yoga.
When you experience stress, your body triggers a “fight-or-flight” response in reaction to your heightened nervous system, which causes your heart rate and breathing to rapidly increase. The best way to deescalate this uncomfortable state is to control and deepen your breathing. Through yoga, you will learn to control your breathing with long, deep breaths through your nose that will enhance your focus, awareness and inner peace. Most yoga involves posing along with deep breathing, making it a beneficial way to unwind and sync your body and mind. Additionally, information published in Science Direct explains that practicing yoga can be beneficial to the nervous system and help decrease symptoms of stress in people suffering from depressive or anxious states of mind.
6. Swap coffee for herbal tea.
Most people can’t get through a day without coffee…or stress. We manage our chaotic lives with caffeine-fueled efforts to accomplish as much as possible and avoid stress, but the endless coffee refills could actually be contributing to our stressful situations. Caffeine is a stimulant that can elevate your current mood, but if you’re at work and stressed, coffee is only going to make you feel worse. According to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, people who are prone to social anxiety or panic attacks will be more susceptible to the anxious effects of coffee. Switch to caffeine-free herbal tea (lavender, chamomile and passion flower herbs all have calming effects) to enjoy some aromatherapy and keep stress at bay!