Four Simple Ways to Reduce Stress
Whether from work, parenting or other responsibilities, stress will always be a part of our lives. While stress is not universally bad, research shows that too much stress over time can harm our immune systems, raise blood pressure, increase the risk of heart disease, increase vulnerability to anxiety and depression, and speed the aging process.
It’s important to learn ways to cope with stress. Here are four simple techniques you can use to reduce the negative impact of stress, and increase your health and enjoyment of life.
Physical activity can restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis. Just five minutes of brisk walking at a decent pace releases endorphins into your body, and neurotransmitters release chemicals into your brain that tell your body that things are good. Regular physical activity also will improve the quality of your sleep.
Each day, try to relax with a stress reduction technique. For example, find a quiet space, close your eyes, focus your breathing and transport yourself to your happy place for a few minutes. Research shows your body actually produces less of the stress hormone cortisol when engaged in meditation. There are many relaxation techniques to reduce stress so try a few and see what works best for you.
Choosing healthy foods when you’re stressed can have a positive impact on your mood, helping to relieve tension, stabilize blood sugar, and send your stress packing. Some of the best foods to eat for stress include dark leafy greens, turkey breast, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, fermented foods, blueberries and carrots.
A Good Night's Sleep
A regular sleeping pattern is vital for managing stress. Experts tell us that we should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Rather than relying on medication, aim to maximize your relaxation before going to sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress. Avoid caffeine during the evening, as well as excessive alcohol if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work for as long as possible before going to bed so that your brain has time to calm down. Going to bed at roughly the same time each day gives your mind and body the opportunity to get used to a predictable bedtime routine.
Bryan Medical Center offers free and anonymous mental health screenings. Take one today. To learn more about Bryan’s mental health programs please visit our website and watch a short video.