Stress Less

As April is National Stress Awareness Month, I thought it would be a good idea for me to look into ways to reduce my own level of stress. I found some interesting things as I researched this topic, and I wanted to share them with you.

Stress is a major part of our lives. Who’s to say whether it’s because of modern pressures or if this is just the way it has always been, but regardless of why, Americans are facing high levels of stress almost every day.

Stress is a big deal because your body doesn’t distinguish between a big stress or a little one. That means that any time you are feeling stressed it’s taking a toll on your body.

Excessive amounts of stress can lead to a number of effects on your physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, headaches, depression, anxiety, weight gain, elevated blood pressure, and chest pain.

The best thing we can do for ourselves is to learn how to control and ease our stress levels before they interfere with our health and our ability to enjoy life.

Here are five ways I’ve uncovered that will help you reduce stress in your daily life:

1) Deep Breathing
Deep breathing exercises have been proven to lower blood pressure and reduce the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Start by placing one hand on your stomach and on hand on your chest, just below your neck. Close your eyes and breathe into the hand on your stomach. You should feel your stomach extend. If only the hand on your chest moves, you are not breathing fully and will not experience all of the effects of the exercise.

2) Meditation
Carve some time out for yourself to practice meditating each day. Practice clearing your mind during this time and allow your stressors to fade away. If you have a hard time clearing your mind on your own, there are lots of guided meditation products available. Zen12 offers both guided meditation and relaxation music that allows you to achieve the full benefits of an hour of meditation in just 12 minutes.

3) Exercise
A high-intensity exercise session will trigger your body to release stress-fighting endorphins, but even if you don’t have time to head to the gym, taking a short walk will allow you to clear your mind. Moreover, studies have shown that time spent outside can have stress-decreasing benefits that last days.

4) Take a Nap
Much like deep breathing exercises, taking a short nap will lower your body’s cortisol levels and help relieve stress. But try not to nap for too long! Naps longer than thirty minutes may interfere with your restfulness at night.

5) Express Gratitude
Cultivating gratitude helps us better manage our stress and leads to a greater sense of emotional well-being. When we focus on the things we are grateful for, we are more likely to find happiness in life and a sense of appreciation for all the things that we have. This typically leads to healthier relationships both at home and at work, effectively reducing stress.

When you start feeling stressed, take a few minutes out of your day and practice one of these techniques. But remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for overcoming stress, so if one technique doesn’t work for you, try another.