Are you often stressed? If so, you're not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, stress is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States.
There are many different approaches to managing stress, and whatever works best for you will likely depend on your own needs and preferences. However, some tried-and-true methods address stress's physical, mental, and emotional aspects.
For example, getting more physical activity, positive thinking, maintaining good sleep hygiene, a healthy diet, and stable blood glucose levels can all reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Whatever strategies you choose to try, ensuring that you take care of your physical and mental health is key to overcoming stress. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get started.
One of the most effective ways to relieve stress is by incorporating exercise into your daily routine.
Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. It also helps to improve sleep quality, which can be adversely affected by stress, can distract you from stressful thoughts, and help to increase feelings of self-efficacy.
Because of these benefits, even a moderate amount of exercise can be an effective stress reliever. If you're wondering what that is—the recommendation is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week for adults.
In today's fast-paced world, it's more important than ever to take care of your body and mind. When it comes to stress relief, what you eat can be just as important as stress-relieving practices like meditation.
The food you consume provides your body with the nutrients it needs to function correctly. When you’re under stress, your body works overtime, depleting those nutrients quicker. A diet of whole, nutrient-dense foods helps replenish those nutrients and gives your body energy to cope with stress.
Some great examples of nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, fresh berries, and wild-caught fish. Including these foods in your diet can help improve your mood, increase energy levels, and reduce stress.
In today's modern world, we're constantly connected. All our electronic devices, from smartphones and laptops to TVs and video game consoles, provide entertainment and help us communicate, but they come with significant downsides.
One of those downsides is that constant exposure to media can be stressful and distracting, pulling us away from the tasks at hand and making it difficult to focus on the present moment.
The bright lights and images found on TV, laptops, phones, and tablets can overstimulate your brain and increase stress hormones. Disconnecting a bit will help you calm down and regain mental clarity.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can give you a much-needed energy boost, but it can also lead to increased anxiety and restlessness.
Caffeine can also aggravate existing stress by raising your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also make you more likely to experience anxiety and panic attacks.
Caffeine acts on the nervous system, making it harder to relax, and it can also cause sleep problems, adding to your stress levels. If you're struggling with stress, limiting your caffeine intake may help you feel more relaxed.
If you work long hours, rush from one chore to the next, and then go to bed thinking of all the work you still have to do, you're not giving your body or mind a chance to relax.
Between work, family, and other obligations, it can be hard to find time for leisure. But it's essential to find ways to relax, de-stress, and engage in activities that don't seem important enough to press pause on your responsibilities over.
Why? Because when you're under pressure all day, every day, your body can go into fight or flight mode, releasing stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. It can lead to physical symptoms like an increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, and tense muscles.
Over time, chronic stress can contribute to serious health problems like anxiety, depression, heart disease, and obesity. That's why it's so important to find ways to let off steam and relax.
Meditation and yoga are two popular stress relief techniques that help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Yoga is a form of exercise that helps improve flexibility, strength, and balance. It also helps focus on breathing, which can be very calming. Meditation allows you to focus on the present moment and clear your mind of racing thoughts.
Both practices involve focusing on the breath and being present in the moment, which can help calm your mind and body. Research has shown that meditation can help lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Taking a nature hike or walk can be a great way to reduce stress. Studies have shown that being in nature can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Walking in nature also helps boost your mood and increase feelings of wellbeing. In addition, hiking or walking gives you a chance to get some exercise, which is another excellent way to reduce stress.
Immersing yourself in nature can help reset your mind and body and recharge your batteries.
When it comes to coping with stress, many people turn to alcohol to relax and unwind.
However, drinking alcohol is not an effective way to manage stress long-term. In fact, drinking too much alcohol can lead to additional stress and anxiety.
Here's why that may sound surprising: Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means that it can initially help to calm the nerves. However, over time, alcohol consumption can disrupt the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, leading to further anxiety and stress.
Sometimes, trying to alleviate stress can be the thing that leads to more stress! So when it comes to stress relief, make sure you set realistic goals.
It's crucial to recognize that you can't change or control every situation and learn that it's okay to accept these as they are. Setting unattainable or overly ambitious goals can lead to frustration and disappointment, causing stress to snowball out of control.
As with any form of change, progress will likely happen gradually, so try to stay positive, even if you don't see immediate results. With time and patience, you will learn to effectively manage your stress and improve your overall quality of life.
One of the most effective stress relievers is human contact. Whether it's a hug from a loved one or a handshake with a new acquaintance, physical touch can help to release oxytocin.
Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone” because it is released during physical contact like hugging, kissing, and physical intimacy.
When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting and pain-relieving properties. Laughter also helps increase oxygen intake, which can improve brain function and help to reduce stress hormones.
Getting good quality sleep is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and improve mental health. Studies show that poor sleep can significantly increase stress hormones like cortisol, which can play a significant role in feelings of anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions.
Getting enough rest each night and prioritizing sleep hygiene can improve your moods and boost overall mental wellbeing.
When you focus on the things you're grateful for, it can help shift your perspective and enable you to see the positive aspects of your life. In turn, this will help reduce stress levels.
Practicing gratitude is simply taking time each day to reflect on what you're grateful for. It can be done first thing in the morning, before bed, or at any other time that works for you. The important thing is to be consistent.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. What works for one person might not work for another, and your needs can change over time. That's why it's helpful to have a tool like a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
CGMs are wearable devices that continuously monitor your glucose levels and provide real-time feedback on your lifestyle habits. When you sign up for the CGM Program with NutriSense, you can identify patterns and spot potential problems before they become serious. You also get personalized feedback from a team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists to help you read and understand the data in the innovative app.
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