Stress. How do you define it? Does your heart beat faster? Do you lie awake at night thinking of your to-do list for the next day? Do you cope with alcohol? Or food? Did you know stress related diseases kill over 110 MILLION people in the United States every year? Stress management is not just for yogis anymore, it is a necessary part of a healthy adult life. We share our tips for getting rid of stress below.
Managing stress in the mind is attached to managing stress in the body. The physical side effects of stress on the body range from heart disease, headaches, bad sleep, and digestion problems. These symptoms can multiply and worsen over time if the stressor is not alleviated. Exercise is one of the best treatments for managing stress. When exerting energy for a prolonged period of time, your body releases feel-good endorphins. Sometimes referred to as a runner’s high, this is your body’s natural way of rewarding you for a good sweat sesh. Increased activity also helps encourage deeper breaths, increasing lung capacity. Exercise keeps the heart in shape, preventing against future weakness or disease. Even for 30 minutes a day, try to extend your physical activity, you might notice that the heavy problems weighing on your mind will begin to melt away.
Out of Sight Out of Mind
Set aside work for a few hours a day. It can be tempting to constantly respond to e-mails, even while not at the office. We can feel like we are somehow “getting ahead” by always being on call. This has a negative effect on the brain. Our attention span shortens, our ability to truly focus on one task at a time lessens. The ease of technology has actually put us in a sense of perpetual unease. Stress builds even in our own home. To manage this, practice engaging in one task at a time. If you enjoy reading, place your electronic devices in another room. Do not listen to music or have TV playing the the background. If cooking is your thing, try having the recipe printed or written in front of you, don’t read off of a screen with constant pop-up notifications. Taking the time to enjoy hobbies will actually increase your work productivity, your brain can work faster without constantly trying to multi-task. A more efficient worker matched with a more efficient “relaxer” creates a less stressed brain.
Laugh It Off
Smiling and laughing can essentially trick you mind and body into happiness. By laughing you are distracting you mind from any topic that may be weighing heavily and it simultaneously relaxes your muscles, un-clenching your jaw and loosening your fingers from a fist. It also lowers levels of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine, and growth hormone. Remind yourself it is stress management when you browse Facebook’s funny videos or listen to a hilarious podcast. Try to find something humorous everyday to really let loose. You will find that the five minutes spent knee-slapping drastically improves your mood.
Stress will, unfortunately, always pop up. A flat tire, a missed deadline, everything happens with or without your permission. What we can control is our actions to deal with said problems. Be aware, be vigilant, and give yourself permission to relax. Downtime shouldn’t be saved for retirement. Take these tips and work them into your daily routine, they are free, simple, and quick and they will help in the pursuit of stress management.