In our fast-paced society, stressful events seem to confront us left, right and center. From work deadlines to money issues and the unexpected loss of a loved one, stressful events show no sign of abating.
Today, stress is considered an increasing global epidemic among the adult and teenage population. According to the American Psychological Association, 75% of the American adults were found to suffer from moderate to severe stress. In Australia, 91% of adults are reported to feel stressed in at least one important area of their lives (1).
Evidently, stress is a serious epidemic that is extremely detrimental to our health and well-being. Unresolved stress can build up into chronic and harmful stress, which could result in the health issues listed below (2).
• Heart Disease
• High Blood Pressure
With that being said, what is stress and how can we deal with it? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is the brain's natural response to a particular demand or change. The NIH is quick to remind us that not all stress is bad, but chronic stress is harmful (3).
Below, we’ve highlighted the top ten things you can do to relax and de-stress.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways of reducing and combating stress and anxiety. By exerting physical pressure on your body, you stimulate the brain to release happy hormones known as endorphins and dopamine. This helps considerably in improving your mood (4).
Research suggests that exercise aids in reducing the stress hormones in the body while improving the quality of one’s sleep.
According to a wellness and health coach, Robbie Maller Hartman, Ph.D., meditation makes us more resistant to stress. Our resistance is built through daily meditation, which in turn, alters the brain’s neural pathways (5).
Meditation can be in any form, but should always be accompanied by positive affirmations. Try repeating positive and encouraging words to yourself. Do this with your eyes closed, all the while choosing to remain in the present moment.
Research shows that individuals with less social connections are prone to suffering from anxiety and depression. Loneliness only acts as a catalyst to stress, making it worse than it should be (6). Do not be afraid to reach out to friends and family for help and support.
Interacting with people helps bring about a feeling of belonging and self-worth (7). Try to be more socially active and set dates with your friends and family!
Journaling or writing down the things that you are grateful for can help considerably. This helps shift your focus from negative thoughts to positive thoughts (8).
Laughter helps relieve our stress response which in turn will improve our immune system (9). Just Google funny videos online and you’ll be on a sure path to improving your mood quickly.
Learn to set healthy boundaries with family, friends, and co-workers. This will help you avoid taking on more than you can handle. If you do not have the time to do something, do not be afraid to say no (10).
Mindfulness can be described as a set of practices that help an individual focus on the moment-to-moment experiences. Extensive research suggests that mindfulness helps in the reduction of negative thinking. Notably, practices such as yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction are said to be quite effective in changing our way of thinking.
If you notice that you’ve been experiencing high amounts of anxiety, try reducing your caffeine intake. It could help considerably.
High caffeine levels have been linked to an increase in anxiety. Even though moderate amounts of caffeine are healthy, it is essential that you watch your intake (11).
According to a nurse practitioner, Cathy Benninger, music is a very effective method of relaxation. In fact, recent research states that relaxing and soothing music helps reduce anxiety and stress levels considerably. Moreover, music aids in the reduction of blood pressure and heart rate
According to Cathy Benninger, individuals should focus on the music by listening to its melody and the instruments.
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Call it intuition, instinct, or a gut feeling: if we followed it, we just might be a lot happier. Intuition is a skill we are all born with, but one we submerge in the business of modern living.