Whether it’s positive or
negative, stress has a profound way of seeping into our lives. While a
little bit of stress might not make a huge impact, constant stress over a
long period of time can have a significant effect on your health. In
fact, stress has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including
mood, sleep, appetite and even heart disease.
According to BioIQ, 77% of Americans experience physical symptoms as a
result of stress. Additionally, 33% state they are living with extreme
stress, while 48% blame stress for negatively impacting their personal
and professional lives. No matter how you look at it, stress plays a
major role in our lives.
Because of this, the month of April has been recognized as National
Stress Awareness Month since 1992. This month aims to increase awareness
about stress, its negative effects and how to relieve it. If you’re
experiencing stress, keep these ideas in mind for how to relax.
1. Meditate. This might seem confusing, but it
doesn’t have to be. Meditation simply refers to the practice of slowing
down and breathing deeply from your stomach. Take a short amount of time
every day to calm your body and clear your mind. Focus on centering
your thoughts on your breathing. Meditation has enormous benefits for
reducing stress, and has even been linked to lessening the risk of heart
disease. If sitting still is difficult, try including yoga or walking
in your meditation practice.
2. Unplug. Nowadays, it’s practically impossible to
get away from the constant stream of information, advertisements and
media impacting our brains. All of this input can significantly affect
our stress levels. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed by negative news, or
feel the need to immediately respond to work emails or want to compare
yourself to others on social media. Instead, take at least 10 to 15
minutes per day to unplug and be away from technology. Your stress
levels will vastly reduce.
3. Sleep. There’s a reason sleep deprivation is
considered a form of torture. A lack of sleep can increase anxiety and
depression, making it difficult to deal stressful situations. If you
feel continually stressed, check your sleeping schedule. Chances are
things are pretty irregular. To establish a healthy sleeping routine,
turn off all of your electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. Then,
review your nighttime ritual, such as reading or meditating. This
signals your brain that it’s time to relax and prepare for a restful
night of sleep.
4. Exercise. Not only is exercise good for your
physical health, but it can also benefit your mental health. Exercising
gives you an outlet to relieve stress through. Rhythmic exercises such
as walking, jogging and swimming have proven to be especially effective
at reducing stress levels. To avoid stress from the beginning, aim for
about 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, five days a week.
5. Eat. Even your diet can impact how your body
absorbs and responds to stressful situations. Eating fresh, whole foods
can keep your body energized and well-fueled, so you can respond to
stress naturally. On the other hand, stimulants like caffeine, alcohol
and nicotine tend to amplify stress, interfere with sleep and worse the
effects on your body. If you want to reduce stress in your life,
investigate the foods and drinks you consume.
6. Ask. Ultimately, if you find yourself constantly
stressed without any apparent solution, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Lots of people experience stress, so there is no shame in recognizing a
need for support. Talk with your friends and family about your
experiences, or seek out guidance from a professional counselor. Not
only will he or she provide a listening ear, but they will also have
personal insight to help you better combat stress.
At one point or another, all of us experience stress. This is why the
April was dedicated as Stress Awareness Month. This month, take time to
focus on any stress you experience and consider how best to reduce it.
Not only will you feel healthier mentally and physically, but your life
will be impacted for the better.