Stress is the body’s response to a situation.
It starts off as a feeling to make you more alert. Without stress, humans would go extinct. Our ancestors used the stress and anxiety to alert them for potential danger, such as a 350+ kg tiger.
During stress, the body gives the “fight or flight” response. Consequently releasing a mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine to make the body prepared for any danger.
This rush of adrenaline gave our ancestors the energy to either fight the tiger or run away.
In today’s world, stress is good when we face danger or a difficult situation. It pushes us to make everything we can to solve the problem.
But, being in a stressful state for a long time can harm our mental and physical health.
High cortisol levels for a long time can cause an increase in sugar, blood pressure levels, and a decrease in libido.
What causes stress?
There are a lot of factors and some of them include:
- Death of a partner
- Death of a close family member
- Loss of a job
- Being unhappy with the job
- Having a big responsibility
- Facing discrimination in your job environment
- Emotional problems such as anxiety, anger, depression, guilt, or low self-esteem.
- A traumatic event such as a natural disaster, violence toward you, or a loved one.
Consequences of stress
1-Several unpleasant emotional feelings: Tension, feelings of inadequacy, anger, dependency on others.
2-Obsession is with real or often with excessive worries about physical health.
3-Most emotional disorders are related to stress.
4-Social problems can be a cause or an effect of stress.
5-Feeling tired is common because stress saps our energy-Many bad habits (procrastination) and much wasted time in attempts to handle anxiety. They may help alleviate anxiety temporarily, but we pay a higher price in the long term.
7-Psychosomatic ailments arise from stress.
8-High stress almost always interferes with one’s performance. It causes inefficiency at school and on the job, poor decision making, accidents. It can cause even sexual problems.
9-Anxiety and fear cause us to avoid many things we would otherwise enjoy doing.
10-Gain or lose weight- Many people try to cope with stress by excessive eating which leads to obesity. But, some people when experience stress loses their appetite, and some of them lose weight fast.
Here are 12 simple, yet effective ways to reduce stress.
1. Exercise often
Exercise has numerous health benefits- It makes you lose weight, improves the cardiovascular system, and it increases the longevity of life.
How does exercise reduce stress?
- When you exercise the brain releases endorphins- brain’s feel-good transmitters.
- Exercise can make take off your mind from the problems. Sometimes, after a stressful day, you realize that you didn’t worry that 1-hour workout or during a soccer match.
- Exercise can improve your health, tone your muscles, and reduce weight. All these things can improve your self-esteem and confidence.
- Research shows that people who exercise regularly are more likely to experience less stress in difficult situations.
- Exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones- Adrenaline and cortisol.
Exercise doesn’t have to be another thing to do, but a healthy lifestyle.
Find a sport or a physical activity that you like doing and stick with it, even for a short amount of time.
2. Get more sleep
Sleep has a two-way connection with stress.
1 – Sleep can reduce the levels of stress. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Having a good sleep every night along with other techniques can have a significant impact on reducing and managing stress.
2 – Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep. And, when you don’t make a good night of sleep you are more likely to experience stress during the day.
What should I do to sleep better?
- Eliminate caffeine by noon- Caffeine has the ability to stay in the body 3-6 hours(it varies from person to person)
- Eat a healthy dinner
- Try 4-7-8 breathing technique – Inhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7s and exhale for 8s
- Follow a sleeping behavior- Everyday sleep and wake at the same time
3. Talk to someone
Spend more time with your friends and family. It is always better to talk to someone about your problems. It’s more healthy to not keep all your worries to yourself.
The best friend or family members can listen to you and help you find the best solution.
4. Do not procrastinate
Procrastination is delaying a task that can be done today for another time. People who procrastinate are more stressed and have low well-being.
A proverb says: “Don’t leave today’s work for tomorrow”.
If you have a task to do today, make a commitment to do it.
Remember that leaving that task for another day will increase your workload consequently making you more stressed.
5. Write your problems on paper
Try to write down exactly what is bothering you. Think and write all the possible solutions to your problem. Then decide what is the best solution and act immediately to solve the problem.
6. Chew Gum
Chewing gum reduces stress. A study from Japanese researchers showed that chewing gum for 10 minutes can help reducing cortisol levels.
The laugh is anti-stress medicine. It increases oxygen intake and releases endorphins.
Endorphins create a positive state of mind, boost optimism and confidence.
Laughter stimulates circulation and helps in muscle relaxation, which reduces some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Watch a funny movie or a stand-up comedy every day. It will not only reduce the stress but it will also improve your sense of humor.
8. Listen your favorite music
Everyone loves music because of its ability to make people feel good, relaxed, or confident. It can also relieve stress.
One way the music achieves a calming effect is by helping to slow down a listener’s palpitating heart.
When it comes to music, we all have different preferences. So, the best music to relax is the one you always enjoy. That kind of music you associate yourself with good and positive feelings.
Do you feel stressed? Just put on headphones, play your favorite song, and close your eyes. Focus on the melody and do not get distracted by the outside world.
9. Deep breathing
Under the stress body activates the “fight or flight” response- Your heart beats faster and your breathing quickens. So, to turn things back to normal you can use breathing exercises like diaphragmatic breathing or abdominal breathing.
10. Do something you enjoy
What is your hobby? Soccer, playing an instrument, or just taking care of the home yard? Whatever your hobby, you need to spend some time doing it.
When you are doing something that requires concentration is hard to feel stressed.
11. Kiss someone
Kissing releases oxytocin from the brain, creating a feeling of attachment, bond, secure.
A study showed that partners who kissed regularly had lower blood cholesterol.
12. Follow a healthy diet
As you know, consuming high nutrition foods on a daily basis is a fundamental condition for a great physical, emotional, and mental health.
What should you eat to reduce stress?
Foods high in B vitamins – are essential for proper mental health. They have a reputation as “the anti-stress vitamins. They work together with tryptophan and zinc is essential for the optimal production of serotonin.
Foods high in magnesium. A lack of magnesium can cause stress, anxiety, and insomnia. It is a vital mineral for our body, yet most of the people are deficient. Stress can also decrease the magnesium levels in your body.
More stress less magnesium. Magnesium can help reduce stress and it’s a great mineral for fighting anxiety.
You can consume foods such as (Dark chocolate, nuts, fish, potato, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds). Or, you can try a high-quality magnesium supplement.
Consume omega-3 foods. According to studies, being deficient in omega-3 may lead to mood disorders. moreover, taking omega-3 can help treat the condition.
Vitamins C is another crucial vitamin to fight stress. It is used to convert tryptophan into serotonin.
Patients with depression were found to have low levels of vitamin C compared with healthy people.
What to avoid?
You should avoid all processed, refined, or sugary foods. The sugar can higher and lower blood sugar during the day, which increases stress and causing cravings and fatigue.
Alcohol and Caffeine- Both can make the body dehydrated. They can also interfere with sleep which makes you more tired and unable to cope with stress.