Many of us experience stress on a daily basis, and have become so accustomed to it, that we don’t always recognize the effect it has on our health and our relationships. Stress can cause an assortment of symptoms including headaches, fatigue, sore muscles, and weight gain; and more seriously it can increase the aging process, and increase the risk for hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s.
Even the thought of stress relief can seem stressful to those with busy schedules. You may not think you have the time to unwind and relax, but there are many small steps you can take that are simple and naturals ways of relieving stress.
The 3 most basic things to start with are:
Sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for good health and stress relief. If we are regularly short of sleep, then our concentration and our effectiveness suffer and our energy levels decline.
Exercise: Stress reduction exercises relieve mental and muscle tension keeping the mind and body healthy. Physically active people feel less anxious and depressed. Aerobic exercise can increase your levels of norepinephrine, a chemical that helps the brain deal with stress more efficiently.
Nutrition: Know what triggers certain food cravings, what foods to eat & which ones to avoid. Eating healthy whole foods can help us maintain our energy, and keep up from feeling sluggish.
There are many additional ways to relax, and there is bound to be at least one way that works for you. These are simple things that you can fit into your daily routine, without making drastic changes.
Aromatherapy – Aromatherapy stress reduction is quite successful using the scent of plant’s essential oils to minimize tension and elevate mood. Lavender is relaxing, and citrus can uplift your mood.
Music – Listen to your favorite music and stress levels drop and your mood lifts.
Inspiration – Inspirational books and other readings can offer a new perspective and bring natural stress and anxiety relief for your peace of mind.
Nature – Going for a walk, or even just sitting outside can help us reconnect with nature, producing a calming and peaceful effect.
Humor – Laughter really is the best medicine. According to researchers at Loma Linda University in California, laughing significantly decreases levels of the stress hormones dopac, cortisol, and epinephrine. If you don’t have time to watch a funny movie or tv show, try watching some quick YouTube clips, or if you have kids, ask them if they know any good jokes.
Social relationships – Connecting with others in healthy relationships help you unwind and have fun. Call up a friend and have a quick chat, or stop by the neighbors if you don’t have time to go out with friends.
Pets and stress relief – Pet ownership can help the stressed-out by encouraging time for exercise, relaxation and comfort.
Unplug– In the morning and at night, turn off the computer and television. Use the time when you first wake up, and when you are going to bed, to spend in quiet and in stillness. Overstimulation at bedtime can be disrupting to a good night sleep.
Get Creative– Making artwork or creating crafts can be relaxing, and help to put your focus on the task and hand, and away from your worries.
Yoga – The medical benefits of yoga for relaxation and well-being are unsurpassed. The effects are instant, immediately making you feel calm and at peace.
Acupressure– For quick relief, massage the fleshy area between your thumb and index finger for 20 to 30 seconds.
Massage – A massage can do wonders calming the mind and relaxing the entire body.
Natural muscle relaxer – If you can’t get a massage, soak in a hot tub of Epsom salts.
Deep Breathing– A quick and easy way to calm nerves and lower tension, is by taking deep, full breathes by belly breathing. When you inhale, your belly should expand, and exhale by pulling the stomach in towards the spine. This breathing technique allows you to breathe in more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide.
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Article contributed by Elisa Domenick.