Stress has become a part of our everyday lives. With mounting pressure at work or home, we may be falling behind on taking care of ourselves. Stress can degrade our mental and physical health, leading to dangerous repercussions in future. Often we turn to smoking, alcohol, and other "stress relievers", forgetting that these substances are harmful to our body and will provide only temporary relief.
Here are a couple of ways to deal with stress in a healthy way -
Sleep can be one of the best ways to cope with stress. Whether a midday nap , or sleeping earlier at night, sleep can help our body calm down. Additionally, sleep also helps with our cholesterol and blood pressure, regulating them and preventing heart disease. A good night of sleep can also make you calm and rested for the next day, reducing your stress. This works in a loop: the more sleep you get, the less stressed you are, and therefore the more sleep you can get.
Studies have shown that meditation and yoga are one of the best ways to deal with stress. Meditation allows us to temporarily leave the stressful situation so we can make a more informed decision. Additionally, meditation and breathing exercises allows for more oxygen to enter the brain, allowing it to run better and make better decisions.
Sometimes the best to deal with stress is to take a break from the situation. When you come home from a long, stressful day at work, don't come and immediately open your laptop. This will only stress you out further, and unless it is an emergency, put away all your electronic devices. Instead, talk a walk, pamper yourself, cook some comfort food , listen to good music, and allow yourself some time to do the things you love. These activities will calm you down and it will allow you to relax after a long day.
The benefits of exercise are numerous, with stress relief being only one. Exercise allows us to get our heart rate up, lose weight, and releases "feel-good" chemicals and neurotransmitters. Endorphins, neurotransmitters that make us feel good, produce what is known as a "runner's high." Additionally, exercise can have a meditative effect, which allows us to focus on just the movements of our body. Slowly, the stress and irritations of the day just melt away, and you are able to live in the moment.
When we are stressed, we tend to reach for the carb-heavy, sugar filled food. This temporarily satisfy our stress induced cravings, but can increase our overall sugar, fat, and carb content. Down the road, this can lead to obesity, heart disease, and a multitude of other maladies. Instead, when you are stressed, try eating some of the following foods (in limited quantities): Dark chocolate: eating dark chocolate can regulate the amount of stress hormones and your blood pressure.
Sweet potatoes: provide optimism-boosting carotenoids and provide the carb and sweet taste without a spike in blood sugar
Curry: chilies can release endorphins, which make you feel good, and the other spices in curry can actually shield your brain from stress
The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun - and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. Effective stress management will help you achieve the goals.