“I’m so stressed!” I bet you’ve heard that a few times, or even uttered it yourself.
What exactly is stress and why is it so bad? Stress is simply the forces of nature that affect an individual. Stress can be external (work, family, friends, traffic, etc.) or internal (self-image, self-talk, expectations). It’s how stress manifests itself and how we deal with it that can negatively or positively impact your health.
Most of the time we think of stress as a negative thing. Work deadlines, family members fighting, not achieving your goal weight – sound familiar? These stressors manifest themselves as headaches, fatigue, muscle tension, anxiety, depression, insomnia, overeating, and mood changes.
All of these negative stressors cause your body to pump our more of the stress hormone cortisol, which (if constantly high in the blood) can decrease your immune system by increasing inflammation, storing more body fat, increasing your pain threshold and increasing your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
So, what can you do about it? Actually, quite a lot. Try out some of these anti-stress tips and start feeling better today:
- Breathing: A few times a day, stop what you’re doing and just breathe slowly. There are a number of different breathing techniques out there, but the best thing is to just breathe slowly in and out, focusing on the breath and controlling it.
- Yoga: This centuries-old practice teaches you how to control your mind and body, slowing you down from the hectic pace of life.
- Laughter: It really is the best medicine! Make sure to find time every day to laugh – read a funny book, listen to your favorite comedian, or just laugh with a friend. It lowers your blood pressure and cortisol levels.
- Think positive: People who are positive thinkers have better coping skill and deal with stress better than nay-sayers.
- Express yourself: Let those stressful emotions out! Draw, write, compose music. Don’t keep it bottled up inside. People who can identify the emotion they are feeling have a better ability to come up with ways to effectively deal with them.
- Exercise: Good old exercise – cures all that ails you! It’s a great way to express yourself and get out those pent-up emotions. Angry? Go lift some weights.
- Friends: This is not the case of misery loves company. Rather, seek out friends who can listen to you and help problem-solve what’s bugging you.
- Pet therapy: Have you ever noticed that petting a dog or cat when you’re stressed helps to calm you down? Try it out – it really works.
- Tea time: Spearmint and chamomile teas promote relaxation. Forget the coffee break – today, it’s tea time!