A little stress is actually beneficial for our health. Whenever we encounter new or unpredictable events, such as delivering a speech to a large crowd, the acute stress we feel helps us respond to the situation more effectively and perform better. Feeling stressed for a day or less can boost our immune system, improve our memory and strengthen social connections.
However, when our stress levels are chronically elevated, stress can threaten our happiness, health and wellbeing. If we’re repeatedly exposed to stressors and don’t respond accordingly, our bodies constantly generate cortisol and adrenaline, which take a toll on our mental and physical health. Since stress is a physiological demand on the body, chronic stress is linked to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety.
We’ll always encounter new challenges and unforeseen circumstances in our lives, but learning how to cope with stressors and manage your emotions will ward off stress-related health issues and prevent stress from consuming your life. Feeling stressed can be uncomfortable, so some people bottle up, ignore, avoid or numb their feelings with drugs, alcohol or food, but resisting your stress only backfires. Adopting behavioral, physical, cognitive or relaxation coping mechanisms is a much healthier way to manage your stress. With these stress management practices, you won’t only increase your productivity levels and build resilience, but you’ll also be able to enjoy a more mindful and relaxed life.
Talk to others
When your thoughts are racing with “what ifs,” worries and fears, making yourself vulnerable and sharing your feelings with a loved one can be a therapeutic experience. Reaching out to a trustworthy friend, family member or professional who listens will give you the support and guidance you need to tackle stress. Feeling stressed can be an isolating experience, but talking to others will put everything into perspective and remind you that you’re never alone. Spending time with others decreases your stress levels and allows you to feel seen and heard. Schedule a virtual meeting with a colleague, or pick up the phone and call your grandmother, or a close friend.
Get up and move
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress and avoid ruminating on everyday worries. Moving your body creates more endorphins, which improves your mood, boosts your energy levels, heightens your focus, produces a feeling of calm and increases your sleep quality. The best way to increase this feel-good hormone is by getting 30 minutes or more of exercise that you enjoy every day. The Tracy Anderson Online Studio is now offering 2 weeks of free workouts to help you get started.
Write it down
Whenever stress is bringing you down, get your thoughts and emotions out of your head and onto paper. The practice of journaling provides you with an avenue to problem solve and take action so that you can shift your outlook on and reaction to stress. By starting a stress journal, you’ll be able to notice patterns in what causes stress, how stress makes you feel and how you respond to stress. Journaling helps you express, process and cope with your feelings instead of pushing them away until they boil over, so it provides you with a sense of peace and clarity.
Turn up the music
Music has the power to influence your mind and body. Fast-paced and upbeat music can make you feel more wired, whereas calm and soothing music can relax your muscles and slow down your mind. Listening to relaxing music is an easily accessible coping mechanism that is just as effective as medication at boosting your brain functioning. Putting on calming sounds lowers your blood pressure and reduces cortisol. The next time you notice your heart racing, turn on classical music or sounds of nature to feel more at peace.
Take a bath
Drawing a bath and immersing yourself in warm water rids your mind of toxic thoughts and removes physical impurities from the body. Taking a bath increases blood circulation, which helps the body function efficiently. Those who take baths notice a reduction in stress, anger, depression, tension, fatigue and pain and an improvement in their mental, physical and emotional health and wellbeing. After a long day at work or as part of your self-care routine, take a bath. For a bonus, light candles with scents that eliminate stress, such as lavender or jasmine.
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