Health & Fitness
Top 10 Ways to Reduce Stress
November 10, 2020
Stress is one of the biggest downfalls of our fast-paced, modern-age living and a leading cause of a large number of diseases and health problems. From dealing with worries about the economy, difficult employers or co-workers to spending hours in traffic, not getting enough breaks and leading an unhealthy lifestyle, stress and its side effects have become ever-present. Research shows that this year, in particular, more people are stressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, and economic struggles. There are simple ways to keep stress in check. We have compiled the top 10 stress-busting methods to help you take a Zen approach to life without having to spend money or book a flight to some exotic locale.
The numerous health benefits of meditation cannot be emphasized enough. If you want to balance and harmonize mind, body and soul, consider adding 10 to 20 minutes of meditation into your daily schedule. Physically, meditation can calm anxiety and reduce stress by slowing down respiration, decreasing muscle tension, relaxing your nervous system, aiding in lowering blood pressure and slowing heart rate. Psychologically, meditation can boost your self confidence, help you keep your cool by brushing off petty issues, reduce road rage, help you kick bad habits a lot faster and help with focus and concentration. Spiritually, meditation can create a deepened sense of oneness, help you put life into perspective, enhance intuition and give you a sense of wellness and peace of mind. You can meditate anytime and anywhere; just sit comfortably with your back straight, close your eyes, listen to your breathing and connect to yourself. More advanced meditations include guided meditations with visualizations. In fact, there are even active and dynamic meditations that require movement and vocal expression.
Want to relax and get fit all at once? Try Yoga! Don’t be fooled by the seemingly easy nature of some of the poses; yoga can be quite a vigorous workout that will stretch and tone your muscles and clear and quiet your mind. The often slow-paced movement and controlled poses in yoga can greatly improve flexibility, strength and circulation. Like meditation, it will also slow down heart rate and allow tension to flow out of your body. Want to step it up a notch? Try laughter yoga! If you’re pregnant, prenatal yoga is a great way to stay fit and keep stress levels in check;it can also aid in a calmer, smoother and easier delivery.
Pamper yourself by indulging in a deeply relaxing massage at least once a month. Feel the stress released from every muscle as the massage therapist’s capable hands clear out all the knots in your body. If you prefer to do it at home, there are books and many freely available videos online that can teach you and your partner several easy-to-learn techniques. Stock up on some aromatherapy oils, candles, incense and set the mood for a weekly rub down. It will make you feel great and enhance intimacy. Don’t have a partner, and don’t want to go to a spa? Try self massage! The healing power of touch will do wonders and keep you stress free.
Pick up a book and read it. Step away from the computer and other gadgets, and enjoy the feel and scent of a physical book in your hands. Choose reading material that is relaxing, inspirational and uplifting. Take your book and read outdoors in nature if possible. Take deep breaths; take time to close your eyes and visualize between chapters.Allow yourself to be whisked away into the relaxing realm of the imagination.
Get a Pet
Studies have shown that owning a pet can ward off depression and anxiety. Animals, especially dogs, make instant love connections with their owners. Spending time playing with animals or petting them can slow down the heart rate and respiration and promote a sense of playfulness and childlike joy. People with high blood pressure or heart disease can especially benefit from some furry friend time.Playing with your pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties. If you’re willing to get a pet, consider looking in an animal shelter before going to a pet store.
Be an Optimist
“Easier said than done,” you may groan, “in a world where economical problems, war and violence, a tiring job and numerous other stressors are bringing me down on a daily basis.”Try to limit the sources of “negative” information in your daily life. Filter what you watch on TV, and avoid switching on the news when you first wake up. Start your day with a few positive affirmations. Listen to happy music.When driving your car, play some self-help audio CDs that give you tips and keep you focused on staying positive – this is especially important when you’re sitting in traffic!
Live in the Now
If you really think about it, you’ll realize that the vast majority of people are surviving day-to- day, instead of really experiencing life. We tend to dwell on the past, worry about the future and pay very little attention to the present. Many self-help gurus and spiritual teachers – oldand new – talkabout the importance of living in the now. Count your blessings. Be in a state of gratitude, and enjoy what you have in the moment. As the saying goes “worrying about tomorrow drains today of its strength.”
Listen to Music
Nothing can beat the power of musictorelax you and uplift your spirits. You can effectively de-stress by playing some upbeat tunes really loud in your living room. Get up, shake your hands and feet; jump, dance, sing along, make some noise, release the energy! Alternatively, you can mellow out with some romantic ballads or soft and slow instrumentals. Music can lower cortisol levels – ahormone linked to stress – aswell as blood pressure.
Go for a walk or a jog, hit the gym, swim, take a dance class – the options are endless. Just get moving. Exercise rewards you with more than just a great looking figure. Apart from jump-starting your circulation and getting you to sweat and flush out toxins, physical activity releases endorphins, which instantaneously improve your mood and give you a natural high. This is one addiction you don’t want to quit!
Stress can lead to insomnia, and ironically, a lack of sleep is a major cause of stress. Your body will be much better equipped to deal with the stresses of daily life if you are well rested. An excessive number of late nights rob your body of the precious time it needs to restore itself. The ideal time to go to sleep on most nights is 10 p.m., and you should rise by at least 6a.m. Manage your daily schedule effectively so you can have enough downtime in the evenings. Unwind – have a warm, relaxing herbal infusion. Turn off your TV; stay away from laptops, phones and computers. Read or meditate, and prepare your body for a full night’s rest.