Stress Less This Season
Stress can cause big problems in our lives. Although a little stress is actually good for us (it keeps us alert and ready to make a decision when we need to), ongoing, chronic stress can lead to heart problems, mental health issues, obesity, type II diabetes and high blood pressure amongst many other nasty conditions. By reducing our stress levels, we can reduce our chances of becoming unwell, and make our lives and ourselves much happier in the process. If you’re feeling totally stressed out, these ideas should help you to combat your stress and put your life back on track.
Chamomile tea has long been known to be an aid to relaxation, and even to be an aid to a good night’s sleep (which, as you’ll read later on, is another good way to de-stress). Take a little time to brew up a cup of chamomile and sit somewhere comfortable and relaxing to drink it. Just taking this little moment of peace could well be enough to calm you and remove at least some of the stress that has been plaguing your day.
It’s not just the process of making tea and sipping it slowly that helps though; the herbs in the chamomile infusion work as an anti-inflammatory, relaxing muscles (and the rest of you) as you drink it.
Get More Exercise
When you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, trying to add any more activities into your day can seem like the worst idea in the world. However, if you can possibly manage just a little exercise (ten minutes is fine to start with, although try to bump that up to half an hour or more eventually) you’ll be glad you did. Exercise releases serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ into your body, making everything seem a lot less worrisome than it did before. As a bonus, serotonin actively fights against cortisol, the stress hormone, which is another reason you’ll feel so great once you’ve done some working out.
You don’t even have to do anything too vigorous – a brisk-ish walk around the block could be enough to clear the cobwebs and make you feel more like yourself again.
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
This stress buster might be a harder one to deal with than some of the others in this list, but if you really want to feel good again, drinking less tea and coffee (and other drinks containing caffeine, including the dreaded energy drinks) will help. We’re not saying you have to eliminate caffeine from your life entirely, unless that’s what you want to do, but if you find that you have quite a lot of it during the day, it might be time to cut down because, amongst other things, it can certainly be contributing to your stress levels.
Studies show that coffee in particular actually makes your stress response much more exaggerated, so something that might cause you a little bit of concern if you hadn’t had a cup of coffee (or three) could cause you big problems, perhaps even panic attacks, if you have consumed coffee throughout the day. This is because you will already be in a high state of alert with high blood pressure and extra cortisol flooding your body – any extra stress on top of the effects of caffeine will affect you negatively.
Eat More Ginger
Ginger is a fantastic spice – it’s known to be a homeopathic stress reliever, and it can be consumed in tea (you can even get chamomile and ginger tea, solving many problems at once), used in baking, sprinkled on stirfrys, even eaten raw. Not only will it help to combat stress, but ginger also settles a tempestuous tummy too.
Your stress may be caused, or at least exacerbated, by the technology you use on a daily basis. Social media can have a profoundly negative effect on someone’s mood and how they look at the world, giving them a negative outlook. Seeing only the bad things that are happening means that your stress levels will increase, but it also means that you miss out on all the good that is around you too.
If possible, disconnect from technology. If there are things that you don’t like seeing on Facebook or reading about on Twitter, stop using them. It’s easier said than done thanks to the world’s addiction to tech and social media, but even if you just try it for a week or so, you’ll be amazed at how free and happy you feel. And by then, you may not want to bother going back to it.
If you don’t want to disconnect entirely, or you can’t because you need to use tech and social media for work, or to keep in touch with friends and family, then you should at least switch it off an hour before you go to bed. Mobile devices, the TV, and your laptop all produce what is known as ‘blue light’ and looking at this too close to bedtime can affect our circadian rhythm (how our body knows when it is time to sleep and time to be awake) meaning that it is hard to get off to sleep, or stay asleep once we do manage it.
Being stressed can have a major negative impact on our ability to sleep well, causing us to toss and turn and stay up worrying about things that, in many cases, we have no control over. Ironically, getting a good night’s sleep is something that can combat stress and help us to overcome the challenges that we face every day. That doesn’t mean you should give up on sleeping and let your stress get the better of you; instead, there are some clever and interesting ways to help you sleep better despite the stress. Use these techniques a few times, and your stress levels will start to diminish as you sleep more, and that will, of course, help you sleep better anyway!
Try going to bed earlier than you would normally. Sometimes stressing about how little sleep you’re going to get can mean that finding that sleep is difficult. Drinking chamomile tea, as mentioned earlier, can help, as can drinking hot milk before bed. The temperature of your room is important to get right too; too hot or cold and the body will be working hard to compensate, and that means it can’t relax enough to let you sleep properly.
Sleeping well doesn’t just reduce your stress levels – it can keep you healthy in many other ways too. When you sleep, your body is able to repair itself, restoring your energy, rejuvenating your skin and other organs, and, although your brain never truly rests, giving it a little break from all the billions of thoughts that whiz around it all day.
Don’t Eat Junk Food
Although this suggestion could be one that works in many aspects of life, junk food, processed food, and any food that is rich in refined sugars are particularly bad when it comes to your stress levels. When eating these foods, your insulin levels rise dramatically, and when that happens, the stress hormone cortisol is released, making you feel worried and anxious even if you don’t know why. It’s best to stay away from these foods as much as possible and eat natural, organic items whenever you can. If you’re not sure, just try it for a week and we’re sure you’ll feel a massive difference.
Breathing exercises are wonderful devices for combatting stress. There are many different exercises you can try, but the result is always going to be the same – you will be drawing more oxygen than normal into your lungs, and that gives your brain and body a boost, shocking your stress away and making you feel calmer. One of the simplest exercises you can do is to take a deep breath in, hold it for five seconds, then slowly exhale. Do this 10 times in a row and you will find that you have calmed down significantly. You’ll also be better equipped to deal with the original issue in a measured, positive way.
Laugh With Friends
Laughing is a tried and true way of managing your stress, even though you may not feel like laughing in the least. The phrase ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ rings true here – if you’re not feeling happy and jolly enough to laugh, do it anyway. It doesn’t matter if it sounds fake or if you know you’re not really feeling it. Just keep going. Sooner or later, that fake laugh will become a real one, and that’s when the healing can begin. There are even classes you can take that teach you laugh therapy, and it really does work.
Laughing on your own is good, but laughing with friends is even better. Spending time with people you love has been proven to have a positive effect on your life – you’ll feel happier, be more productive, be more healthy and your stress will diminish. Whether you go out for the evening or stay in doesn’t matter; what you do doesn’t matter; where you go doesn’t matter; all that matters is that you have fun.