Improve Your Sense of Well-being: Reduce Stress
Managing your stress levels is important for optimal health.
This is because any changes in your emotions have a huge impact on how your body works.
Your heart, skin, digestive system, muscles, cells, and every other part of your body is affected by a change of emotions.
Stress impacts on your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, brain chemistry, cholesterol levels, and hormonal balance.Studies have also linked stress from the common cold to cancer, which basically means that it’s a leading factor to almost any disease or illness.
Stress reduction can improve your mood, boost the immune system and increase your productivity.
What Causes Stress?
According to The American Institute of Stress :-
‘There is no definition of stress that everyone accepts. Therefore, it’s difficult to measure stress if there is no agreement on what the definition of stress should be.
People have very different ideas with respect to their definition of stress. Probably the most common is, “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension
Stress is subjective and in this modern, faster -paced world, many of us have a good number of stressors in our lives.
The usual suspects are work, family, school, business and community commitments.
Stress may also be defined as mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
Effects of Stress on Our Skin
For those of us with skin problems, stress increases the level of cortisol, the major stress hormone, which breaks down the collagen in the skin and causes inflammation.
The mind and skin are intimately connected.
One survey showed that approximately 30% of individuals attending at a dermatology clinic had some underlying, often unaddressed, psychological problem.
This awareness and experience has led to the fast growing field of psychodermatology, to examine and address the impact of a person’s emotions and mental and emotional state as it relates to their skin.
This fresh approach is a more holistic one, suggesting medications, where appropriate, relaxation, counselling, healthy diet, massage therapy and complementary or alternative treatments.
But, Be Gentle on Yourself
One of the things I have learned over time is that I can easily get stressed trying to figure out how to reduce stress, so it can be a bit like the chicken and the egg and I don’t want this post to add any pressure to you.
The need to be perfect, stress -free, zen-like, with complete mastery over life… I really don’t think that’s how it works. Do you?
But, if you can gently incorporate some stress reduction techniques into your life, with love, calm and self-acceptance, then you may find these suggestions of some help.
Five Easy to Use Stress Reduction Techniques
According to Dr. Nick Cavill, a consultant in health promotion, “If exercise were a pill, it would definitely be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented”.
The truth is, most people perfectly know that exercise is crucial for their long-term health but are too busy trying to fit into their daily routine.
While exercise improves your overall health and boosts your sense of well-being, it also has some major direct stress-busting benefits.
Physical activity generally pumps up your endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.
It also increases your self-confidence, relaxes you, and reduces the symptoms associated with anxiety and mild depression.
Exercise also helps you get better sleep, which is often interrupted by stress, anxiety, and depression.
Some of the best moderate-intensity aerobic exercises to help with your stress problems include: walking fast, jogging, swimming, cycling, yoga, or even playing tennis. A few minutes a day will help you make a significant change in your health.
2. Eat Right
Proper nutrition is a good defense against stress. Foods with high levels of vitamins and minerals actively help to reduce stress levels.
The main foods to include in your diet are high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich foods and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. According to nutrition experts, carbohydrates trigger the brain to produce a relaxing hormone known as serotonin, thus enabling the body to lower its stress levels.
Ensure that you include healthy comfort foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, carb-rich foods, soups, yoghurts, fish, water, and herbal products.
Avoid foods and drinks that trigger and aggravate stress. The main culprits are sugar, meat, junk food, soft drinks, energy drinks, caffeine, cheese, butter, alcohol, nuts, and coconut oil.
Try to make a meal timetable and avoid skipping meals or eating in a rush. Skipping meals worsens stressful situations and eating fast causes indigestion which takes a toll the body.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Stress and quality of sleep are linked.
High levels of stress can make sleeping more difficult and at the same time, getting adequate sleep can help reduce the effects caused by stress.
Since sleeping well means lowering your stress levels, you should then ensure that your sleep is not distracted by avoiding stimulants, getting regular exercise, eating right, avoiding alcohol-induced sleep, and keeping a regular schedule.
4. Breathe Fresh Air..and Breathe Deeply
Spending more time on outdoors is a sure way to ensure that the air you are breathing is clean and fresh.
Fresh air helps boost relaxation by reducing the amounts of the stress-causing hormone, cortisol.
Fresh air contains large amounts of oxygen which increase the amount of serotonin, thus lightening your mood and promoting a sense of happiness.
Practice deep breathing as it helps turn on good moods and turn off stress.
One of the most effective and rewarding stress-busting techniques is meditation.
Meditation is a mind-calming practice that encourages a relaxed state and promotes inner healing.
Practising meditation for as few as 15 minutes a day can help you relieve stress, decrease depression and anxiety, and also improve cardiovascular health.
Tip: Free Meditation Tool
There is a great app called Insight Timer with loads of personal meditation materials, guided meditations, teachers and groups.
Available for free on the App Store.
Or get it for free on Google Play.