5 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress
In our fast paced world, stress is something we live with – day in and day out. It isn’t going away. We need to learn to live with it – and get the upper hand. Or it will take its toll on our health.
Stress is defined as our reaction to the external environment as well as our inner thoughts and feelings. It isn’t only what happens to us that creates stressful feelings, but it’s how we feel about what happens to us. Learning to control our thoughts through meditation, yoga, and other mind quieting techniques can be very helpful in reducing stress levels. Like the Buddhists say, become the calm in the center of the storm.
During times of increased stress, our body’s nutrients are used more rapidly to meet these needs so we require increased amounts of many of these nutrients. The antioxidant vitamins A, E and C, the B vitamins and the mineral zinc, selenium, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, sulfur and molybdenum are some of the nutrients that are commonly depleted by stress.
Fortunately there are a number of ways to prepare the body for stress. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Meditate, pray, or do yoga each morning. The simple technique of quieting the mind, following the breath, and relaxing the body can put you in the right frame of mind for getting through a stressful day with a positive mental attitude.
- Show Some Love
Induce the relaxation response by cuddling your pet, giving an unexpected hug to a friend or family member, snuggling with your spouse, or talking to a friend about the good things in your lives, (Transforming Stress by Deborah Rozman, PhD) When you do, you’ll be reducing your stress levels.
Why? Experts say social interaction helps your brain think better, encouraging you to see new solutions to situations that once seemed impossible. Studies have also shown that physical contact — like petting your dog or cat — may actually help lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones.
- Breathe Deeply: Feeling stressed evokes tense, shallow breathing, while calm, is associated with relaxed breathing. So to turn tension into relaxation, and change the way you breathe.
Try this: Let out a big sigh, dropping your chest, and exhaling through gently pursed lips. Now imagine your low belly, or center, as a deep, powerful place. Feel your breath coming and going as your mind stays focused there. Inhale, feeling your entire belly, sides and lower back expand. Exhale, sighing again as you drop your chest, and feeling your belly, back and sides contract. Repeat 10 times, relaxing more fully each time.
- Reduce Caffeine Intake: Consuming caffeine too late in the day can affect sleep quality, which impacts stress levels. Consuming too much caffeine in general can make you more emotionally reactive to stress. Learn how much caffeine is too much.
- Time Management: Honing your time management skills can allow you to minimize the stressors that you experience, and better manage the ones you can’t avoid. When you are able to complete everything on your “to do” list without the stress of rushing or forgetting, your whole life feels easier.