smiling faces

Image Source: flickr

How many times do you use the phrase “I’m feeling stressed” during a regular week? We’re all guilty of over using the term, but not fully embracing that stress is more than a feeling, it is a physiological reaction to frustration, fear or anger; and it’s a symptomatic problem that has significant health impacts.

Stress is an aspect of daily living that needs to be managed, like any other health concern. However, many people attempt to ignore it, hoping that it will simply pass, and go away. Rather than allow stress to dominate your life, physical and emotional well-being, we suggest eight ways that everyone can beat stress, and start enjoying life.

1. Laugh More

If you want to quickly reset your mood, energy level and nix the stress, find a good reason to laugh. Health experts agree that a good laugh can help reduce tension within the body, leaving all major muscle groups relaxed for almost an hour afterward. In fact, a good healthy laugh can also relieve the body of pain from inflammation temporarily.

When you laugh, the body releases endorphins which are the nature ‘feel good’ hormone in the body. The happiness hormone also provides benefit to the immune system, by helping the body to release stress hormones like cortisol, which over time can contribute to cardiovascular disease and other health threats. If there is no one around to talk to, put on a good comedy or listen to a comedic podcast to get giggling, and relieve stress.

2. Schedule Time with Friends and Family

Work schedules and transportation, errands and other obligations mean that there is less time to enjoy with family and friends. The modern hectic lifestyle puts us in contact with our loved ones primarily through social media or text chat, but has significantly reduced the amount of facetime we enjoy with those we love.  

Why is that a problem? Because it’s easy to start feeling emotionally detached from life and normal fun things like creating memories, when we don’t have enough face to face time with others. At first, finding time to get together can be a challenge, but scheduling dates in advance with friends and family will help make sure the social time happens, and the health benefits that follow.

3. Get Plenty of Sleep

We spend the first part of our lives fighting our parents against nap time, and early bed routines. In our adult life, it seems that going to bed early is something more of a fantasy, rather than a healthy habit that we can put into practice. It’s important to understand that sleep deprivation can be as detrimental to health as other bad lifestyle habits, including smoking or alcohol use. Make a stand for getting a minimum of 7-9 hours of sleep per day (including naps) for improved health, wellness and stress management.

4. Stay Hydrated!

Symptoms of dehydration include irritability, depression, dry mouth, headaches and fatigue. Few people get the daily minimum 32 ounces or 2 liters of water that medical experts agree is essential to health and wellness. Discount coffee, tea, energy drinks and smoothies when calculating your true hydration rate (food absorbs moisture when taken with meals). Find some BPA free reusable drinking bottles, and keep one with you all the time, to remind you to drink fresh water.

5. Spend Time Outside

Get reconnected to nature, even if you only have a few minutes. Find a tree at a nearby park to enjoy on your lunch, or spread a blanket and do some reading near a lack. Remove you shoes, enjoy the sounds and natural scenery, and try meditation outdoors; it can help you lower your affective blood pressure, improve oxygenation in the blood stream, and reduce cortisol levels.

6. Unplug from Mobile Devices

How far is your smartphone from your hand, at any given time of the day? Whether you are glued to a tablet, a desktop computer (at work) or your mobile phone, technology is invasive in modern society. In fact, a recent survey revealed that North American’s may spend as much as 51% of their day using a device and browsing the internet or other rich media.

There are two aspects to the stressors experienced by excessive screen time. First, the relay of any monitor or mobile device screen has a refresh rate of fast flashing lights, that significantly impact our natural circadian rhythm. Having a hard time going to sleep? That’s because spending 2-3 hours on your smartphone or tablet before bed, convinced your brain that it might be daytime, prompting alertness instead of the relaxed state required to fall asleep.

The second health implication of increasing screen times, is that we are constantly reading, sharing, commenting on and processing data. During the eight-hour standard work day, we’re required to do the same thing (and we get paid for it). However, after hours, that self-induced work mode continues, cutting into the time our brains need to slow down, relax and unwind. The lack of downtime leads to exhaustion, and the over production of the stress hormone cortisol.

7. Do Something Creative

Left brain or right brain?  Creativity (unless you are a professional artist) is probably one of those activities that you have written out of your schedule. Who has time to paint or sculpt? We even hire people to do our gardening, if it’s in the budget. But one of the healthiest stress relievers is getting your hands dirty, and trying something you find relaxing and enjoyable, that requires less analytical processing, and more whimsy and flair.

Build your own birdhouse, or plant a new balcony garden. Go thrift shop hunting for some great furniture pieces, and make them a fun paint project for your home. The possibilities are limitless, and your inner child will thank you.

8. Explore Aromatherapy

Just like the scent of an apple pie can take you to a warm and pleasant feeling or past memory, aromatherapy works to relieve stress by stimulating the olfactory system and the brain. You can learn more about the health benefits of aromatherapy and how it helps distress and detoxify the mind and body at any essential oils shop. Alternately, you can go through online stores to learn the benefits. You’ll be amazed at how effective essential oils are at relieving stress, and how those small vials can provide a relaxing break in the middle of the workday.

Never let circumstantial stress ruin your day or your week. Find the best methods of unloading the cumulative feeling of anxiety or frustration, by finding alternative activities that are fun and healthy to engage in. The impact of stress on health is shared equally by the cause of the stress, and by our own personal interpretation and ability to process it in a healthy way. Slow down, give yourself permission to unwind, and recharge your mind and body.

Author's Bio: 

Korie Cantor has been working as a freelance writer for a long time. She has a diverse background in health, mobility and fitness. She loves sharing her opinions on the latest issues affecting women.