Oh, stress. While the stress response can be lifesaving in emergency situations where you need to act quickly, it wears your body down when constantly activated by the stresses of everyday life. In our culture we tend to very busy and carry a lot of stressful thoughts around with us, which can cause negative effects on our mood, relationships, and health. Although it isn’t possible to completely get rid of stress (it does serve a purpose after all), we can learn to manage it better.
Here are my top seven tips for reducing stress to help you release the negative energy that may be holding you back from achieving a peaceful state of mind.
1. Get enough sleep. Adequate, quality sleep is critical. Even the smallest problems feel unsurmountable when you are tired. Sleep helps regulate your hormones, appetite, and mood. Aim for a minimum of 8 quality hours of sleep a night.
2. Laugh your heart out. Laughter really is the best medicine! Laughing enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress. Watch humorous movies, Youtube videos, and tv shows, or listen to humorous podcasts to keep you laughing.
3. Develop a positive attitude. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses. Practice positive thinking and surround yourself with positive quotes, uplifting music, and affirming people.
4. Increase physical activity. Exercise isn’t just good for your physical health and weight status, it can also help relieve tension and anxiety that you may be carrying around in your body. As you begin to regularly release your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do. Aim for a minimum of 10-30 minutes of activity each day. Remember that any form of exercise can provide you with mood-boosting benefits, the important thing is just to move your body.
5. Relax or meditate. Take some quiet time for yourself. If stress has you anxious, tense or worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace. I would recommend setting aside at least 5 to 10 minutes a day for your relaxation practice. If you’d like to get even more stress relief, aim for 30 minutes to an hour. Meditation not your style? Tai chi, acupuncture, and yoga can deliver the same relaxation benefits.
6. Build your relationships with others. As amazing and capable as we all are, no one should have to go through hard times all alone. Building and nurturing relationships with others helps give you support and perspective. Good friends relieve stress, provide comfort and joy, prevent loneliness and isolation, and even strengthen your health. Compliment others daily, show gratitude, and applaud those who did a good job. Another important part of this- forgive. Holding onto grudges will only cause you more stress and pain.
7. Nourish yourself. If feeling stressed or anxious, food should be your ally, not your enemy. Proper nutrition is vital when managing stress. Do your best to eat balanced meals with protein, complex carbohydrates, and high-quality fats every 3-4 hours. This will help keep your blood sugar balanced and will support your mood and energy. Also essential, limiting alcohol and caffeine which can deplete long-term energy stores and create anxiety or depression.
I hope this was helpful my friends. I'd love to hear from you. What things have worked for you in managing stress? Please share!
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Wishing you peace in your heart, today and always,