Tips for Reducing Stress
Written by Eli Ben-yehudaOn November 6, 2017
Here’s a detailed list we collected of great tips to reduce your stress
Keep a healthy, balanced diet
As tempting as it would be to think that mental health issues like stress exist in a bubble inside of a person and don’t affect the rest of the body, it would be entirely incorrect. Anyone who has ever suffered from stress knows that you feel it physically just as much as you feel it mentally.
It makes sense then that your overall health can impact your stress levels, both negatively and positively. Of course we want to focus on the positive, so here are a couple of diet tips for reducing stress.
Eat for your heart
When you’re experiencing stress, your heart is experiencing it right along with you, which means that over time it can actually put your heart at risk. Keep your heart in good shape by eating a low-fat diet with plenty of lean protein, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. This will help lower your blood pressure, which will help keep your heart from thumping hard when you start to feel stress.
Eat to actually reduce stress
Get ready for the science. When you feel stressed, your body responds by producing stress hormones, like cortisol, which increases sugar in the bloodstream. This is what makes us crave unhealthy food when we’re stressed.
However, giving your body simple carbohydrates like candy and white bread only gives your body a quick burst of sugars, so any good effects won’t last. That’s why you need to focus on complex carbohydrates with lots of fiber, like whole grains and sweet potatoes.
The carbohydrates in those foods will prompt your brain to produce more serotonin, a hormone that relaxes us, but the nutrients and positive effects will stay with you much longer.
One of the number one causes of stress is absolutely work and work-related issues, or how busy we feel overall. For many people, they’re on the go from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. It’s no wonder stress is such a common affliction. It’s also no wonder we turn to coffee to get us through. However, it would really be better for us if we didn’t.
The vicious cycle of caffeine
The more you ingest caffeine, the more you feel you need to ingest caffeine. Coffee will give you a quick boost, but the fatigue will catch up, which causes you to drink even more coffee, even though that fatigue or an inability to focus is a signal that your body needs rest.
Excessive caffeine consumption can actually lead to lapses in concentration and a decrease in our overall ability to be effective. So the work we’re pounding that coffee to complete becomes harder because we’re less efficient. So we drink more coffee.
Caffeine and your heart
Do you know that feeling when you’re stressed out, and you’re feeling your heart pumping? What you’re feeling is increased blood pressure. Bad for you, and bad for your heart.
Caffeine is a substance that naturally increases blood pressure anyway, so you pile that on top of the effects of stress, and that’s a lot of strain for your heart. Consider switching to decaf coffee after your first cup in the morning, or drink an herbal tea that is lower in caffeine.
You may be thinking that so far the tips we’ve been sending you look like tips you’d read in an article about living a better life, or increasing your overall health. That’s absolutely correct. It’s all related. Nonetheless, exercise absolutely has a direct effect on stress. Here are three great reasons to include it in your stress management plan.
Do it for the endorphins
This is often referred to as a runner’s high, but in actuality, pretty much any sustained physical activity will make you feel good mentally. Physical activity increases your brain’s production of endorphins, which have been found to be similar to opiates in the way they can produce a feeling of well-being.
Over time, regular physical activity has been found to increase self-confidence while lowering the symptoms of mild depression, anxiety and stress.
Do it to improve your sleep
The effect of exercise on poor sleep is actually a two-pronged attack. Not only does exercise naturally help us sleep better at night, but since regular exercise decreases our feelings of stress that will help us sleep better as well. Because who hasn’t lain awake at night because of stress?
Do it to distract yourself
This is a short-term solution, sure, but we know when we’re stressed, we welcome short-term solutions in addition to long-term. A good run, a beautiful hike, a game of racquetball, an exercise class: they’ll all give us a break from our stress because they’re so distracting. There aren’t many physical activities that don’t require our full attention. Wave goodbye to stress for 45 minutes.
Fake it until you make it
We’re not saying you need to tell people you feel great when you don’t, or avoid asking for help when you need it. If you’re struggling with stress, absolutely let your loved ones know what’s going on, and lean on your support network when you can. All we’re asking you to do with this tip is smile. That’s it! Okay, maybe laugh a little too.
Smiling through stress
Smiling is a two-way street. We tend to do it when we’re happy and relaxed, but the physical act of smiling can actually help us feel happy and relaxed.
Your grin transmits nerve impulses from your facial muscles to the emotional center of your brain, which will then tip your neurochemical balance towards calmness. So even if you don’t feel like smiling, paste one across your face once in a while for the greater good.
The benefits of laughter
Laughter may not actually be the best medicine, we’ll have to nominate penicillin for that honor, but laughing at your favorite TV show or comedy routine not only increases those feel-good chemical endorphins, but it also decreases the levels of stress hormones in your body.
Laughing can help you feel calmer, lower your blood pressure, and eliminate those cravings for sugary, unhealthy foods.
Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda
Eli is a licensed Registered Nurse with 17 years experience. Eli graduated with a major in nursing and a minor in psychology. His postgraduate training was in trauma, oncology, and cardiology.
With a passion for health advocacy Eli researches and writes many articles concerning improving the lives of people diagnosed with high blood pressure and the complication they experience. He believes educating people is the best way to improve their overall health.
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