What Are The Best Methods To Relieve Stress?
From minor challenges to major crises, stress is part of life. And while you can't always control your circumstances, you can control how you respond to them. When stress becomes overwhelming, or it's chronic, it can take a toll on your well-being. That's why it's important to have effective stress relievers that can calm your mind and your body.
And what works for you at home might not be an option when you're at work or in the community (dancing around your living room might be helpful but dancing in the grocery store might not be). So it's important to have a variety of stress relief tools at your disposal. Then, you'll be able to pick a strategy that works best for your current circumstances.
Stress is part of being human, and it can help motivate you to get things done. Even high stress from serious illness, job loss, a death in the family, or a painful life event can be a natural part of life. You may feel down or anxious, and that’s normal too for a while. Talk to your doctor if you feel down or anxious for more than several weeks or if it starts to interfere with your home or work life. Therapy, medication, and other strategies can help.
There are countless techniques for managing stress. Yoga, mindfulness meditation, and exercise are just a few examples of stress-relieving activities that work wonders. But in the heat of the moment, during a high-pressured job interview, for example, or a disagreement with your spouse, you can’t just excuse yourself to meditate or take a long walk. In these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible.
What Is Stress?
Just what is stress, anyway? Many experts define it as being more than the physical or mental symptoms of anxiety or depression. Stress, also known as psychological stress, is the mental or emotional state that can interfere with your ability to deal with your normal challenges and responsibilities.
Stress can put extra pressure on your health, taking away from the time and energy you may have for doing things you enjoy or even activities that may be good for you. It can interfere with your ability to stay healthy. And it can increase your risk of serious health problems. Stress is sometimes bad news, but many studies show that moderate levels of stress can have many positive effects. It can help motivate people to get things done.
Stress is your body's response to stressful situations. The fight or flight response triggers your fight or flight glands to produce the stress hormones epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, and norepinephrine. That’s why you feel tired, worn out, and a little bit nervous even if you haven’t been around dangerous situations.
You might even feel guilty or think you “shouldn’t feel so stressed” because it’s not good for your body. Scientists have found that the fight or flight response – like the need for caffeine in the morning – only lasts about 20 to 30 minutes. Thereafter, your cortisol levels return to normal. So there is no “good” or “bad” stress, just a normal response. But you can learn to manage your stress and turn it into something beneficial.
How Does It Affect You?
For most people, stress can take on many forms: physical, emotional, and cognitive. Physical stressors include over-exertion, injury, illness, travel, personal or family issues, etc. Excessive physical exertion can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cancer. Stress hormones can affect your heart and immune system, so when you're stressed, you may be more susceptible to illnesses.
Emotional stressors include family problems, financial stress, relationship problems, loss of a loved one, significant life changes, and even natural disasters. Stress is a natural response to adverse events, and sometimes we feel it as a protective mechanism. However, many people cope with it in unhealthy ways.
When your level of stress exceeds your ability to cope with it, stress can become a problem for you. Even brief periods of prolonged or extreme stress, in combination with other causes, can result in serious medical conditions such as:
- heart disease and/or high blood pressure
- irregular heartbeat
- brain swelling and/or swelling in the body
- high blood sugar
- excessive sweating
- poor circulation
- digestive problems
- pain and/or irregular/bruised muscles
- skin rashes or infections
The best thing to do is to identify the sources of your stress, learn how to cope with them, and find a balance between coping and giving in. You may need to change your usual patterns and take a more active role to get a handle on your stress levels.
Strategies To Relieve Stress
That’s where stress management comes in. You may be familiar with some of the approaches to stress management – meditation, exercise, relaxation techniques, and getting enough sleep. You can also practice some of these techniques or other relaxation methods at home. If you’re feeling more anxious or depressed, talk to your doctor about using some of the many other stress management techniques they prescribe.
Here are a few strategies to take advantage of for relieving stress:
- Stay mentally and physically active. Many people are distracted from activities that help their stress level, but get out and do activities that bring you joy. Take an evening stroll or go for a jog. Watch an interesting TV program. Go for a walk with a friend.
- Help others. Help people and ask them to help you. Volunteer your time or your skill.
- Express your love to a family member or friend. Notice something every day to be thankful for.
- Meditate. Don’t try to “go into a meditation state” when you feel anxious, nervous, or frightened. Just let your mind clear and let the thoughts flow. With a few simple strategies, you can reduce your level of stress and feel more energized.
Why You Should Reduce Your Stress
According to a 2007 article in the British Medical Journal, as many as one-third of the U.S. population has experienced clinical depression. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability, costing the United States $57 billion annually.
People with depression often lose weight, have trouble sleeping, and, in some cases, have suicidal thoughts. If you are feeling down, or can't seem to shake a prolonged feeling of depression or anxiety, then there are likely other factors at work. In a study that surveyed 652 patients hospitalized with heart failure, doctors found that only 20% of patients considered themselves depressed.
While a wide variety of causes of stress exist, the link between higher levels of stress and disease is real. You can reduce stress by reducing the stress that causes disease, so your stress level is lower overall. Here are ways to manage your stress levels more effectively and to relieve your symptoms, pain, and fatigue.
- Learn to Laugh – Laughter and other forms of positive and stress-relieving laughter are good for your health. You can turn to humour and be less concerned about other people's reactions. A good laugh helps relieve stress, helps your body release endorphins that help you feel better, and helps you start each day with a positive attitude.
- Make Time for Yourself – Take time to be alone. Find ways to relax each day.
How To Reduce Your Stress?
You can't eliminate your stress entirely, but you can learn to reduce your stress. Here are some strategies for doing that: Know your stress triggers and Pay attention to when you feel anxious or stressed. Knowing your triggers helps you better deal with stressful situations. For example, did your day start off with your cat waking you up? Or did it start with a long commute or a conflict with a co-worker?
Start an exercise routine – Exercising regularly can help you manage stress. Getting in regular physical activity can calm your body down and help you focus. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week can reduce your stress level by up to 40 percent. Don't panic and remember that things could be much worse than they are.
Check your attitude. Once you’re aware of stressors in your life, take some time to think about how you are responding to these challenges. Are you worried that things are never going to get better? Do you feel stressed out all of the time? How much better do you think things could be if you were willing to find a different perspective?
Seek out support. While some stress is unavoidable, there are many ways to minimize stress. Ask for support. Whether you want to join a support group, make some extra time for prayer and meditation, or just let someone know how you feel, it is important to know that you are not alone.
Therapy And Self-Help Strategies
If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, you might need to seek outside help. Therapy can help you learn to handle your emotions, find a strategy for dealing with stress, and work with others to solve problems. A licensed therapist can help you develop a coping skill that works for you and can improve your quality of life.
There are a variety of different approaches to help reduce your stress, but you have to find the one that works for you. Therapy can help you identify the cause of your stress, work on your problem and come up with a solution. It can help you come up with coping strategies and learn ways to control your feelings.
Some people prefer a psychologist or therapist to learn more about how to deal with stress, including skills to help you relax and stay calm. Meditation can help you relax and focus on your breathing. Meditation can also increase your self-awareness and awareness of your thoughts and feelings. There are even apps that can help you get meditation or breathing exercises on your smartphone or tablet.
A doctor may recommend therapy if you have a serious illness, major life changes, or a past history of stress-related medical conditions. It can be helpful to talk to a therapist to get a clear diagnosis of the underlying causes and to learn more about stress and how to cope with it.
Also, if you have experienced stress-related problems in the past, and have trouble remembering events that could be affecting your current feelings, talking to a therapist can help. Another option for those who can afford it is self-help therapy. These options involve working with a therapist to develop new coping skills to reduce stress, or practicing new strategies in advance of a stressful situation.
Your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, such as benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin), for a short-term way to relieve stress. Long-term use can lead to rebound anxiety or the sudden re-emerging of symptoms. A behaviour-based stress management program (BMP) may also help. You will work with a trained counsellor to change your negative behaviours.
Practicing relaxation techniques and practicing relaxation memory aid can also help. Anxiety problems can be treated with talk therapy as well as medication. Ask your doctor for referrals to mental health professionals, particularly those who treat anxiety. You can also check with your insurance company to see what assistance they may provide. If you take anti-depressants, you may be able to get discounts on the prescription.
Anxiety and depression can often be treated with antidepressants or talk therapy, but there are other drugs that may help.
- Xanax® – this prescription anxiety medication has been approved by the FDA to treat panic disorder. It can also help treat agitation, tension, panic and insomnia.
- Valium® – this drug is a tranquillizer. It can be prescribed to help you fall asleep and also can help you manage symptoms of anxiety and other conditions.
- Ambien® – this prescription sleeping pill is also used to treat insomnia.
- Naltrexone® – this medication is used to treat alcohol abuse and help prevent a person from having alcohol-related problems.
Chronic stress can exacerbate existing depression, making it hard to cope with your symptoms and to do simple things like sleep or eat, so depression medication may help. This is especially the case for anxiety, which is often treated with medication for depression.
Also if you have a condition that makes you more vulnerable to stress, such as depression, severe hypertension, or heart disease, you may be put on medication. How do you take medication for stress? Medication for stress can be taken in pill form or, if necessary, by using a patch or a nasal spray.
Diet And Exercise
These days, it seems that most health books are full of people telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat, and this one is no different. Most of us know that too much fat or too much sugar is bad, but often we don’t know what the right balance of these is for a healthy diet. For this one, I like David Ludwig, a Harvard Medical School professor.
He researches both behaviour and genetics and says that while genetics is important when combined with food choices, eating patterns and exercise, we can greatly influence our weight and overall health. I like his approach, which is to eat as much as you want of the healthiest kinds of food. Fruits and vegetables are a good place to start, and other foods high in vitamin D and calcium, fiber, and antioxidants will help keep you healthy.
The best way to feel good is to eat well and move your body regularly. But physical activity alone doesn’t eliminate stress. Eating well will help you feel great in all kinds of ways. It will also help you achieve other key results, such as losing weight, boosting your energy, reducing stress, or providing a sense of calm.
It’s also easy to stay in your comfort zone if you don’t change anything. You can regain your lost weight, lower your blood pressure, and even protect against disease by keeping your body in shape. That’s why it’s vital to find new, healthy ways to stay active and keep your body healthy. You can make these healthy changes one by one or set them up as a long-term, sustainable lifestyle change.
Keeping your weight in check and getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily can help lower your stress level. Maintaining a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats can also help.
A 2010 study from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass., found that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oils, nuts, and seeds, and in various supplements) may lessen the impact of stress on mental health. And in a 2006 study, depressed patients receiving omega-3 fatty acids for 12 weeks experienced less depression and anxiety after the treatments ended.
Take a slow, deep breath slowly. Hold your breath for five seconds and let the air out. Repeat five times. Inhale slowly through your nose. Hold your breath for five seconds and let the air out. Repeat five times. Get into a comfortable position. For example, lie on your back, lie on your side, or sit comfortably with your feet on a chair or footstool. Put your hands together and close your eyes.
As you inhale slowly through your nose, imagine a sparkle of light coming from the top of your head and illuminating your hands. Let your breath out slowly, watching as the sparkle of light appears and eventually begins to dissipate. Repeat several times. Use your hands to gently stroke your face and neck. Hold your breath for a few seconds and imagine a cooling sensation.
What is the best way to relax? Relaxation techniques are different for everyone. But here are a few ways to help you start. When you’re sitting at your desk at work and you feel tense and uptight, you probably find yourself needing a drink of water to get your bearings. But water is not always the most satisfying way to relax.
You can drink water when you're at work, but if you really want to chill out, there are other options. You could pick up a book, take a walk around the office, or switch on a calming music CD. You can also try something new. For example, you can try a guided relaxation tape such as the Positive Meditation method on YouTube.
Research indicates that these techniques, which you can do at home and are easy to remember, can help manage stress, improve sleep, and help you build confidence and a sense of control.
- Tai Chi
- Mindfulness and Exercising
Depression, insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain, and so many more problems are all common complaints about many who suffer from chronic illness. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of specialists who can help, and the options you have may not always be as healthy or healing as they should be. For example, many in chronic pain often turn to medications that can have harmful side effects, addictive properties, or may interfere with your daily routine.
The wrong pain relief approach can hinder your recovery by taking up your time and preventing you from going about your business. Doing some research and asking questions can lead to better treatment options and other options for managing your illness so that you can better manage the chronic pain that you are suffering from.
Here's my best advice: if you’re having difficulty keeping up with daily tasks, losing sleep or have problems with your appetite, then it’s time to think about getting help. You may have depression or another condition that is likely to be helped with some form of therapy, medication or other help.
Don't try to put it off any longer. While there may not be a quick fix, at least you can start the recovery process by getting some help now. You can also take steps to keep from becoming overwhelmed and stressed in the future. Just be open to suggestions about how to handle the stress in a more effective way.
I trust you enjoyed this article about What Are The Best Methods To Relieve Stress. Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly.
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Thoughts? Ideas? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Please leave me your questions, experience, and remarks about What Are The Best Methods To Relieve Stress in the comments section below. You can also reach me by email at Jeannette@Close-To-Nature.org.
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