Life throws a lot at us. Often more than seems humanly possible to accomplish in a 24 hour period for sure. Do you get stressed out managing your house, office, family and personal work? Trying to eat healthily, find time to go to the supermarket, do laundry, get in some exercise, put in a full day of work, go to school, date, spend time with loved ones, and still find time to be social. The list goes on and on.It is a lot! No wonder we are stressed. While many people push how they feel to the back of their minds, thinking there is no time to pay attention to your tired, aching body, you’re grumpy moods, being sleep deprived, it is actually really important to take the time to stop and de-stress yourself every now and then. Prolong stress leads to anger, a reduction in productivity, and is super harmful to your health.
Stress is a silent killer
Chronic stress is linked to cancer, lung disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and mental illness. It is also linked to weight gain, premature aging, a weakened immune system and heart attacks. Stress is way more damaging than most people think and builds on itself.
Imagine if got became sick and had to miss work, wouldn’t that add more stress to your life? Which, in turn, might cause more illness, and the cycle repeats itself.
What you can do TODAY
Alright, don’t let that last bit get your stress levels up even higher. I was just trying hammer in the importance of addressing the stress you might be feeling right now.
The best method of dealing with a problem is preventing it from happening. So before stress takes a toll on your life, take some time to unwind and relax.
Here are 5 simple things you can start doing today to keep yourself happy and healthy.
1. Eat the right food
Some foods like dark chocolate, citrus fruits, and omega-3 fatty acids (most commonly found in fish or supplement form) help manage stress levels. Dark chocolate has antioxidants which reduce stress by lowering the stress hormone levels as well as your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which helps to boost your mood. However, eat only chocolates containing at least 65% cacao and a maximum of 1-2 ounces every day.
Avocados, flaxseed, walnuts and fatty fish like tuna have omega-3s which lower stress, depression, and anxiety. Citrus fruits like oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, and kiwifruit are good for you. Likewise, tomatoes, broccoli, and both green and red peppers are delicious to eat and contain vitamin C which helps relieve stress.
2. Take a soothing bath
Here is one of the best excuses to indulge in a warm bath. Water has a soothing effect on the mind and body. Adding some essential oils, like lavender, or lighting aromatherapy candles help to promote the tranquil effects. Another pro tip is to give yourself a head massage while in the tub. Start at your scalp with your fingertips moving from the hairline to the back of the head and feel the tension melt away.
3. Get a Swedish massage
While I am all for massages of all sorts, a Swedish massage is specifically designed to reduce your stress levels. It involves using gentle and soothing strokes to improve blood circulation and help you feel relaxed. If you don’t have time or money for a Swedish massage, just partner with a friend and give each other a shoulder, back, or neck massage. These are the areas where most people tend to carry their stress, and by targeting them, your body will be able to release a lot of tension. This means you won’t feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Just the act of sitting still while being massaged allows your body a few minutes of rest and restoration that it desperately needs.
4. Fit in some exercise
One of the healthiest ways to reduce stress is by exercising. It not only helps reduce stress by producing feel-good endorphins, but it also makes you sleep better, which is exactly what your body needs to recover from all the hustle and bustle of daily life. Exercise boosts your energy levels to give you more stamina, allowing you to work better and faster. This will help reduce some work stress at least. Get your project done on time and you won’t have to worry about deadlines or delays.
Last, but not least, exercise helps make you feel more calm and focused. With a clear head, you’ll be able to tackle all your daily to-do lists.
If you find it difficult following a regular exercise regime, start with something you love and look forward to doing like walking, swimming or playing your favorite sport. If possible, get a friend to join in to make exercising more fun and as a motivational partner. Laughing is one of the best medicines for stress, and what better way to enjoy exercising than with a friend.
5. Use essential oils
Essential oils offer many therapeutic benefits that support relaxation routines. Breathing the scent of the oils activates your limbic system, the brain center of emotions and memory. The oils help increase the flow of blood to your muscles which relaxes them. They also increase the oxygen flow in your blood, which helps to remove and reduce toxins in your system. Certain scents and oils can effectively promote a good night’s sleep.
Find the right oils depending on what you need. Lavender and valerian help promote a good night’s sleep by restoring the parasympathetic nervous system. Or try sandalwood which releases natural melatonin in your body and stimulates the immune system. Wintergreen supports sore muscles while peppermint promotes alertness by carrying oxygen to your brain and blood.
Which method is right for you? Pick one method or all five and try them today. With so much going on today, it is easy to put off taking care of yourself for a later day, but this is damaging in the long run. Remember to unwind and give your body the rest it needs. Soon you’ll feel more alert, relaxed, and rejuvenated.
Imagine your body is like a car. Instead of being constantly stressed out and running on fumes, let your body and car fill up on what they need (rest and stress-free relaxation), so they work at their most efficient state! Get started today.