It’s always a good time to reflect on your well-being and check in with those around you. The importance of managing stress and understanding how it affects your health, in the long run, is vital. Too much of the stress hormone, cortisol can affect gut health, mental health and trigger things like weight gain and sleeplessness.
Here are 10 inexpensive ways to reduce stress:
High impact sport – Physical activity is proven to help reduce stress in the body. Taking up a sport is great for stress relief as people who have a regular exercise routine have lower rates of stress. The production of endorphins during activities like cycling and running can improve overall health when done regularly.
Low impact sport – If you’re unable to pursue such high impact activities there are plenty of lower intensity and more accessible options that can be done in the comfort of your own home. Along with great health benefits, improved muscle tone, and flexibility, activities such as yoga, tai chi and even power walking, are some good options. Meditational ‘sports’ engage the body and mind with a sensitivity, making you less stressed physically as well as mentally.
Simply Get outside! – There is an instinctive bond between us and natural things, so nature, in this case, can help nurture us. Spending time outdoors in open spaces, amongst trees and water can be inspirational and arouse feelings of tranquillity, promoting feel-good hormones. Also, if the sun is out you’ll benefit from that vitamin D.
Listen to Music – A great sensory tool that can uplift you, music is always good for de-stressing. Soft jazz and classical are great at calming, though any music you like is good. Music can even affect the metabolism, so you’ll burn some calories while resting and even more if you get up and start dancing. Proven to improve athletic performance, listening to music is brilliant while exercising to motivate and boost mood.
Essential Oils – Aromatherapy uses oil from plants for therapeutic and medicinal purposes. It absorbs into the skin when applied as well as stimulating the lymphatic system when sniffed. It can help relieve anxiety and hypertension; lavender oil in a bath or diffuser works well to create an atmosphere for relaxation. Other good oils are Ylang ylang that has a soft and soothing scent and Neroli oil, apparently good for panic attacks.
Breathing is the gateway between the conscious and the unconscious mind.
Self Massage – Massage therapy is often used for pain relief and helps release tension in the muscles. Self-massage can be performed easily by massaging various parts of your body that need a soothing touch. Gently rubbing the temple, forehead and back of the neck with slow circular motions is good for reducing tension in the head and using essential oils is a plus. While massaging yourself with the oil, breathe in the aroma for clarity of mind.
Switch off – Making sure you have your alone time is so important these days. The online world also counts; social media like Instagram can be consuming; distracting us to a point where putting your phone down and switching it off may seem like a tough ask. Take the time to be alone without human and artificial distractions, quiet and solitude every once in a while is beneficial.
Close your eyes – The practice of closing your eyes, in any situation has been shown to help with focus. You shift your attention from external to internal, becoming aware of yourself and noticing any tension in your body. Observation of yourself is key in stress management because you will realise that stress is more about your inner self and emotions than what is happening externally. Being more present and focused helps to control the exertion of extreme emotions like anger toward someone because of your stress.
Sleep – Sleep is paramount, it’s restorative and after a stress-filled day, it’s a good idea to get some quality sleep. A recommended 7 hours a night is the aim but it’s certainly tough with most of our lifestyles. During sleep, several hormones are produced like melatonin, made only in complete darkness so all bedroom lights should be out including devices. Also, the growth hormone is made in sleep and it’s opposed to cortisol, so the more sleep the better; even naps are beneficial for stress reduction.
Eat more Chocolate – Of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of chocolate; diet plays a large role in how stressed a person is. Health benefits of dark chocolate specifically, include it being high in nutrients, antioxidants so it can lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. As a tool for stress, Chocolate is wonderful for increasing serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain, keeping you chilled out and attentive.
Stress doesn’t have to affect your ability to function optimally and despite its accumulation, it can be managed in sustainable ways. Stress isn’t all bad, it’s needed for simulation and self-awareness, so learn to embrace it as an opportunity to move your body and engage yourself. You’ll realise over time that releasing stress isn’t that hard.
Thanks for reading.
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