How we live our lives today is so much different than 20 or 30 years ago. Even though we’re technologically advanced, we’ve also been carrying the burden of being alert and ready 24/7. We have everything at our fingertips.
You open your laptop or smartphone and the whole world is at your disposal. Unfortunately, it’s a 2-way street which means that just like you can get in touch with anyone at any time, they can also find you wherever you are and whenever they please.
This is why nearly 80% of all doctor visits are stress-related. While some stress response is good for you, having it on all the time leads to major physical, psychological and emotional problems.
And since stress doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon, it’s up to us to learn some ways to manage and lower stress levels.
Here are a few ways to alleviate tension and stress:
1. Eat right. Foods high in magnesium, calcium, vitamin B-12, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids all help uplift the mood, protect the heart and boost brain power. Try to avoid foods rich in processed sugars and fats, too much caffeine and alcohol which all increase anxiety, fatigue and inflammations.
2. Exercise. Getting regular exercise is a natural stress-buster because your body releases endorphins; feel-good hormones in the brain which lift your mood as well as act as natural painkillers. Your blood sugar levels and metabolism are boosted, helping you eat less and burn more calories at the same time. Exercise also regulates your sleep cycle, what experts refer to as your circadian rhythm, so you get quality sleep and wake up early, energized and ready to start the day.
Want to double the benefits? Exercise outdoors, preferably where you are surrounded by nature. Studies have proven that getting direct sunshine stimulates the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals. Add to that the soothing effect nature has on you, and your mood is sure to soar, squashing with its levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
3. Meditate. Meditation has been used for centuries as a way to calm the nerves and become in tune with your inner self. And the best part is that it can be done anywhere and at any time. Pick a quiet corner in your home, sit in a comfortable chair and focus your attention on your breathing for 5 - 10 minutes. You can also practice mindfulness which means being present in the moment. To enhance your meditation, you can light up some scented candles, essential oils or listen to soft music or nature sounds.
4. Be more social. Spend time with friends and family because it’s nice to feel connected to those who know and love you. That sense of belonging relieves tension while increasing self-confidence. Volunteering is also a great way to lower stress. When you become part of something bigger than yourself, it changes your perspective.
5. Find a hobby. Doing something you enjoy means you’re disconnecting from social media, slowing down and using your senses to take in everything in the present moment. Plus, you’ll have something to show and be proud of. It’s a great confidence booster, whether you like reading, painting, knitting, or race-car driving.
Stress is an integral part of our lives which, if left unmanaged, can lead to health problems. But, with some patience and a few simple lifestyle changes, you can lead a happy, well-balanced life and enjoy all it has to offer.