Stress is often called “a silent killer” because of the physical toll it can take on your body. It can lead to health concerns such as heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pain and an irregular heartbeat.
Most of us have a pretty high level of stress. Every day, we try to juggle our lives successfully— career, hobbies, spouses, children, finances, and more. Stress can even be triggered by mundane things like commuting, waiting in long lines at the bank, or going to the grocery store. It truly is all around us.
Fight Stress with Healthy Habits
- Dish out a self pep-talk. It’s an immediate way to deal with stress. We all talk to ourselves; sometimes it’s positive (“I can do this!”), but sometimes it’s negative (“There’s no way I can’t do this.”) With practice it can be very beneficial. Just remember to keep the negatives out!
- Talk with friends and family. Sharing how you feel with people you trust is a good way to get support. Their reflection can also put the situation in a more manageable perspective!
- Lace up for some physical activity. It’s a scientific fact that regular physical activity helps relieve tension.
- Remember to laugh. It is also a scientific fact that laughter makes you feel good. It relieves physical tension in your body, but also releases endorphins (happy hormones). So if you feel it in the moment, let loose and get a good ol’ belly laugh going!
- Slow down, take time to breathe. Deep breaths flood your brain with oxygen, improving function. It can also help decrease the tone of your sympathetic nervous system and increase the tone of your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the portion of your nervous system that promotes relaxation and good digestion. Besides that, taking a minute for a few deep breaths can simply give your mind a minute to slow down and process what’s going on.
- Get enough sleep! While we’re sleeping is primetime for our body to recoup and recover from the toll of the day, physical and mental. Give it the chance!
- Get organized. Use “To Do” lists to prioritize and help focus on the most important tasks. Take them one step at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. You may need to clean your house but not today.
- Practice giving back. Helping others will help you.
- Find your happy place. Sit back and picture yourself in a peaceful place, wherever that might be to you. Maybe on the beach, walking in the mountains, floating the river…
- Practice visualization. As author Wayne Dyer says, “You’ll see it when you believe it.”
- Get proper intake. Make sure that you are getting the nutrients that you need for a healthy nervous system. While it’s important to your overall health that you eat a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet, it is also important for your emotional health. Try to get an adequate amount of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin D.
- Be prepared. Support your body’s “fight or flight” system, the adrenal glands, as well. These are the little engines that produce and distribute stress hormones.
- Take a timeout. Set aside some quiet time everyday. Spend it with prayer, meditation, yoga, stretching…take your pick! Choose a calming meditative activity to center your thoughts.
- Indulge your spirit. Try to do at least one thing, daily, that you enjoy— even if it’s only 15 minutes. (Art, reading, yoga, crochet, cards, walking…)
Stress can be overwhelming, but take a minute and give one of these tools a shot. You may be surprised how small adjustments in your life can help lessen the pressure. Or at least help you to be more equipped to handle it.