With the crazy constant stimuli and stress we face every day with social media, advertising, deadlines, expectations, family, raising children, relationships and finances its no wonder we are experiencing more stress than ever before. Everyone knows Stress= Bad Health, but we might not fully understand just how harmful it can be for our mental and physical health. Going back to a study in 1956 researcher Selye (Selye H. The Stress of Life. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1956. ) found prolonged periods of stress can cause tissue breakdown and disease. It seems like almost every day there is more and more research on the harmful effects of stress especially when its experienced over prolong periods of time. The great news is you can literally restore brain matter, reverse aging, and experience less stress by practicing the following:
5 Ways to Decrease Stress Today!
- Meditate- Even if its only for 5 minutes! Find a nice quiet spot where you wont be interrupted. Maybe turn your phone onto airplane mode to ensure it doesn’t distract you. You can sit or lie down, as long as you’re comfortable and just focus on the sensations you feel when you breath. Notice how it feels as the oxygen comes through your nostrils, down your esophagus and into your lungs. Notice how your lungs feel as they expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale. Try to do this daily (if you skip a day or two you can always pick up where you left off) and in the morning if you can.
- Turn off unnecessary alerts or alarms on your phone!- I don’t know about you but when my phone chimes indicating I have a text, email, social media friend, etc. I actually feel anxious and my mind is itching to know why it chimed. I recently took off the social media apps from the interface part of my phone (As I was wanting to check my newsfeed and updates throughout the day). I also turned off the sound or vibration alarms for emails. Truly, I immediately felt better when I did this! I have also noticed I focus my attention better on tasks throughout the day which increases my productivity for work and let me have more time for my private life.
- Get Outside- Yes, I’m referring to that place you drive by with the trees and squirrels and grass. Seriously though, getting outside, especially in nature, can help us feel connected to nature. The stress from your day will take a back seat as you spend time in nature. One way to do this is to take your breaks outside. You could even ask a coworker to take a walk with you.
- Take your breaks- Yes you workaholics I’m talking to you! Believe it or not when you take your breaks you actually feel happier and are more productive! AND Just try it- You’re worth it!
- Talk to someone- This can be a helpful friend, family member or a therapist. There is so much research on the power in talking with others. One thing to be mindful of is to not “unload” all our problems daily to a single person as we could burn them out. We also need to be using other methods to reduce stress along with talking with others to empower ourselves to actively work on healing ourselves.
If you’re skeptical or want to try measuring whether this is helping try rating how you feel on a scale from 1-10 (1 being the horrible and 10 being mazing) before you try any of the above and then measure again when you have completed the activity/ intervention.
Many feel that if you are young and in good health you are at less risk. While this may be generally true this is still something to consider for all ages as we are finding younger and younger people experiencing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia and other chronic medical issues normally seen in “older populations”. Also, to live in a state of chronic stress is also to have a lower quality of life for any age.
We all want to live a happy life with good health. Practicing these tips will help you with that goal!