5 ways to reduce stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Mental illness is a condition that affects more of us than ever before. Around 10 times more people in the western world are diagnosed with depression now.

Your phone is ringing, your boss wants to talk to you, you have to pick up the kids and you have bills to pay. It is impossible to eliminate stress, but you can learn to manage it.

Increases in cortisol occur in response to chronic stress. When cortisol is too high for too long this can increase the amount of fat you store in your body also known as visceral fat.

Fortunately there are many ways to reduce stress and the following are the five ways which have helped me reduce my stress. Some will work better for you than others.

  • Yoga

Yoga means ‘Union’ or ‘connection’. It is a process of becoming more aware of who you are. That is the process of self-realisation. Yoga practices include posture, cleansing of the mind, visualisation. Everything we do can become Yoga if it is done with awareness.

Yoga is generally considered safe for the average healthy person, but you might need to check with your health care provider before you begin.

You can learn yoga from books and videos, but a one to one with a yoga instructor is usually best. Classes also offer friendship which are important to your well being especially when you are stressed.

Practising yoga is not only a stress reliever, but a great way to ease anxiety, depression and stay in shape without popping pills.

  • Meditation

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and one of the most common reasons people choose to meditate is to reduce stress.

The good thing about meditation is that you can practice it anywhere and you don’t need any special equipment to do it. Meditation can benefit you emotional well being. When you meditate you clear everything that might be crowding your mind or causing you stress. This will help you increase self awareness, focus on the present and reduce negative thoughts. By practicing relaxation techniques everyday, you can learn to let go of unhealthy emotional states.

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of paying more attention to the present moment and helps lower stress hormones. This has grown in popularity in recent years with the NHS recommending it.

The most common question is how much meditation do I have to do? the answer is if you meditate for even 10minutes a day you will feel better. you may want to start with 2minutes a day and gradually move up to 10minutes a day. Just like anything else. The most important ting is to be consistent.

  • Exercise

Exercise is considered vital in maintaining mental wellness and can reduce stress significantly. Exercise reduces the levels of the body’s stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. When you exercise your body produces endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that act as natural pain killers.

Raising your heart rate by exercising can reverse damage to the brain caused by stressful events. As you exercise more and your waistline shrinks your self confidence and pride will increase. Exercise can improve the quality of your sleep, which can be negatively impacted by anxiety and stress.

Exercise improves your body’s ability to use oxygen and improves blood flow. both of these changes can have a positive effect on your brain. Exercise can also help take your mind off your problems. you will focus on your body rather than your mind. Some people notice a shift in their mood straight after their workout.

  • Healthy diet

Your diet can make stress levels go up or down. Certain foods increase the level of hormones in the body while other types of foods can reduce stress by lowering level of hormones that trigger it.

A warm cup of tea has soothing effects regardless of flavour. Certain herbs like chamomile and lavender have calming effects. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants which can reduce the level of stress hormones in the body. Carbohydrates in the diet can help to reduce stress, just make sure to choose healthy carbohydrates like whole grain and sweet potatoes.

Avocados are packed with omega 3 fatty acids. These healthy acid are known to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood.

Fatty fish are also good sources of omega 3 fatty acids. They reduce depression because they improve communication between nerve cells. These fish include tuna, salmon and mackerel. Warm milk also helps with stress reduction because it has a relaxing effect. milk has calcium and vitamin d which helps muscles to relax and stabilises  mood.

Nuts have Vitamin B. Vitamin B can help reduce stress levels. almonds and walnuts can even help lower blood pressure levels.

  • Gratitude

Research has shown people who feel gratitude are happier and are less stressed. Grateful people are less  likely to be depressed and anxious. Gratitude allows you to detach from a stressful period and think of a positive memory or experience. It pulls you out of your negative mindset.

Fortunately gratitude can be cultivated. It doesn’t cost any money and doesn’t take a lot of time. When feeling stressed try to think of 4 or 5 things you are grateful for. Most people make the mistake of comparing themselves to those that have more than them, instead of people that have less than them.

One of the ways to remain grateful is to keep a gratitude journal. This can be wonderful to read at times when you feel like you have nothing to be grateful about. when you wake up in the morning be grateful for the new day. During your meals be grateful the food you eat. Before you drift off to sleep be grateful for the day you had.

Comments

  1. A very enjoyable piece to read. These are some of the noteworthy ways of reducing stress. As for me, exercise, speaking of walking is used as my ‘me’ time and is very invigorating.

    I try to maintain a healthy eating lifestyle with a one-day-at-a-time mindset because I am diabetic. I can’t say the thoughts of it being a means of stress relief every entered my mind. I appreciate learning from your piece. Avocados (nutrient all-star), salmon, no-fat/low-fat milk/yogurt, nuts (almonds) are always part of my eating plan.

    Gratitude is part of my very being. The journey of life in my estimation should be filled with gratitude. The essence is being alive and giving thanks for seeing a new day, having pure love, food to eat, a roof over your while showing respect for your fellow humans. Gratitude helps keep me grounded and I would not have it any other way.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece. Thanks for writing!

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