Everyone experiences stress in some point in life. Stress could be caused due to physical or emotional causes. While it is quite normal to feel stressed sometimes, anxiety that persists can have negative consequences. If not managed properly, stress can affect your health and mental wellbeing. Chronic stress can lead the body to produce stress hormones that cause conditions like increasing heart rate, constricting blood levels, chest pain, elevated cholesterol levels, a weakened immune system, and depression. Learning how to manage stress is crucial to reduce risks of these serious conditions. Here are some strategies to keep stress in check:
- Proper sleep: Getting a good night sleep – at least 6-8 hours – is very important to de-stress and recharge your system. Before going to bed, take a warm bath, turn off the TV, and dim the lights or read a calming book to relax your mind and body.
- Engage in a relaxation technique that works for you: Meditation, tai chi, yoga, and deep breathing are widely recommended relaxation techniques. Find a quiet place and spend time to clear the mind, body, and soul. Experts say that deep breathing offsets the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
- Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms: Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol, smoking and drugs. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can actually increase stress levels. Alcohol can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. So when stressed, avoid these stimulants or at least, reduce consumption.
- Exercise: When you are feeling stressed, take a brisk walk in fresh air. This can reduces stress levels. Make exercise a part of your daily routine as it can keep your body healthy and is also a great stress reliever. Activities like walking, swimming and yoga are some good options to de-stress.
- Eat healthy: A well-nourished body can better cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Balanced, nourished meals are important to keep your energy levels up and your mind clear throughout the day. Avoid caffeine and sugary foods and drinks. Drinking distilled water, herbal teas, or diluted natural fresh juices will keep you hydrated and help you cope with stress.
- Laugh: Studies say that laughing releases “happiness hormones” which decreases cortisol and adrenaline levels, and reduces the level of stress hormones.
- Avoid or manage the stressors: Identify the sources of stress in your life and avoid or manage it. If it’s a person who stresses you out, try to limit the time you spend with that person. If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it or adapt to it.
- Express your feelings instead of suppressing them: Be more assertive and communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. Suppressing your feelings can cause resentment to build and elevate anxiety.
Engaging in activities that bring you joy is a great way to de-stress. Whether it’s reading, listening to music, going to the movies or drawing, try to find time for a hobby that will relax your mind and body.