7 Best Healthy Ways to Alleviate Stress
Are you tired of letting stress run your life?
It seems like everything you do leads to more worry, and it’s not even your fault. We live in a society that almost literally breeds stress. But you’re not powerless. In fact, there are quite a few things you can do about your stressful situations.
Here are 7 of the best healthy ways to alleviate stress.
Although this may seem like the obvious answer, if you’re not doing it, you need to start. Sometimes, we overlook the advice that appears commonplace just because we’ve heard it so many times. But when you hear something a lot, it’s probably because it has merit.
Here’s how exercise relieves stress:
When you exercise, you actually cause physical stress on your body. It sounds counter-intuitive, but as your body attempts to fight the stress, it makes you feel amazing. Seriously. In an effort to help you feel better, the body releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals, to help mitigate the pain. And after you stop putting stress on your muscles (working out), most of what’s left are endorphins. It’s difficult to worry about anything when you have endorphins coursing through your body.
There’s a lot of research backing meditation as a stress-relief method. One of the ways it works is by training your mind to exist in the present moment. And if you think about the source of your stress, it’s usually either in the past or future. You’re rarely stressing about something that’s currently happening. So, as you become more mindful, you’ll naturally stop stressing as much.
If you’ve ever had a massage, professional or not, you don’t need convincing of this one. Massage can help reduce stress by relaxing your tense muscles. When you’re dealing with chronic stress or anxiety, your muscles will get used to existing in an anxious state. But you can use massage therapy to retrain your muscles to get back to their natural, relaxed state.
Yoga is a great way to reduce stress levels because it combines the practices of exercise and mindfulness. While you’re exercising, you’ll learn to focus on your breaths and connect the mind to your bodily movements. They call this the mind-body connection, and it completely immerses you in the movement and the motion. Again, since your mind is less likely to wander, you’re less likely to feel stressed.
By now, you may start noticing some overlap in these techniques. But try not to feel cheated – because when you combine these techniques, results will come much faster and easier.
Breathing techniques are good to reduce stress levels any time, but they’re especially great for bringing stress levels down in the moment. So, if you feel a panic attack coming on, for example, this is a great time to practice breathing exercises. All you really have to do is take a few intentional deep, slow breaths and focus on the inhale and exhale. This will force your heart to slow down, which will have an instant impact on your stress levels.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
This one can be difficult because when you’re feeling stressed, you’re probably not sleeping well. So, when you wake up in the morning, you’ll want to reach for the coffee. And at night, you’ll need to wind down, so you reach for the alcohol. But these things will only enhance your stress. It’s okay to have a cup of coffee in the morning but try to limit yourself to one or two. And if possible, avoid alcohol altogether. If you must drink, again, limit yourself to one or two glasses every so often.
Talk to Someone
Everyone needs someone to talk to when times get tough. So, if you feel like you’re constantly on a hamster wheel, struggling to keep your head above water, reach out and talk to someone. This may be someone in your family or a friend. Or it may be a professional counselor. Do what feels right to you at the moment.
We can’t always change stressful situations, but we can make some simple shifts to help alleviate the effects of stress on our lives.
What’s your favorite healthy stress-relieving activity?