We all know that stress is not good for your mind or body. It can be a catalyst towards so many injuries and illnesses, but it's hard to know how to reduce stress within us, once we begin on that downward decline.
Stress gives us wrinkles, headaches, poor posture, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as negatively affecting our every day mood. It can lead to depression and anxiety too, affecting your work, family and friends.
Often, we feel that we have no control over being stressed; a stressful day at work is out of our hands, rush hour traffic, too much to do. However, although we cannot affect stressful situations, we can affect how we react to them and how we reduce stress within ourselves.
Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine us a top tip for stress reduction. Often these are our go to treats when we are feeling down. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, and therefore will increase our stress levels, as opposed to reducing them. Alcohol is also a stimulant in small quantities, and a depressant in large quantities, therefore not a good solution either.
Hydration, on the other hand, is key to improved mood. Studies suggest that feelings of anxiety and stress can be improved when we are properly hydrated, so drinking water and eating salads should help to keep stress levels more under control.
It seems obvious, and we know it helps, but still many of us are not getting the required amount of sleep to allow our bodies to function properly. Lack of sleep plays havoc with our hormones, affecting our moods, and reducing our ability to be able to deal with stressful situations. Irritatingly, increased stress can also affect our sleep, so we can find ourself in a viscous circle with the whole stress-sleep problem. Even if you have trouble sleeping, still ensure you are giving your mind a body rest, by meditation or similar, to allow yourself the best opportunity to calm the mind and relax the body.
We know it's good to talk, but we don't always use this simple stress reliever. By offloading your troubles to a friend, colleague or professional, can help to put things into perspective. Communication also has a way to lift your mood, distracting you from the stresses of your days, and giving you some time of leisure. People want to help, allow them to help you, as you want to help others in their time of need.
Physical activity has a great impact on your mind and body. It releases hormones which help to balance your mood, and combat so many of the problems which stress can cause. Fresh air can also improve your mood and reduce stress, so if you can exercise outdoors then you can double up on the benefits. Exercise can also improve the quality of your sleep, putting things back into a positive upwards cycle.