Stress is something all of us will experience multiple times in our lives. Whether you’re rich and famous or feel like your life is a dream, stress will unfortunately creep up on you.
It is described as feeling as if you are under abnormal pressure and it can come from any aspect of your life such as your workload, financial stability. An argument with a loved one or even experienced through what should be an enjoyable task of redecorating your home.
We all get stressed over different things, but it is very important to not get too overwhelmed. As this feeling of overwhelm and stress if experienced throughout long periods can cause future health issues later in life.
To help you to take those first steps and begin to change your lifestyle, we have put together 7 top ways on how to reduce stress. Keep reading to discover how to incorporate these simple tips into your life today.
The effects of stress on our health?
We are all aware of the feeling of stress that creeps up out of no where. Whether physical, mental or emotional, the way that stress can affect our health is diverse and can cause bodily or mental tension.
By how does stress affect our health? A constant trigger that arises within the body’s nervous system, this stress response is most commonly referred to as the ‘fight or flight response‘. This response may be caused from the overwhelming feeling of a heavy workload or the completion of an activity that you fear, such as jumping out of a plane.
Although a useful addition and can help us to function to our best ability during these rare new experiences, when experienced daily, this can play havoc to our health. This is due to the constant feeling of stress causing wear and tear within the body and developing into distress. Causing both physical and emotional distress.
Symptoms of stress to be aware of
We are now aware of the effects of stress on our health, but before we can begin to discover how to reduce stress, first we need to look at the symptoms. Nearly 43% of adults suffer health conditions brought on from stress, being aware of what to look for is important.
Unsure of the key symptoms of stress? Here are some noticeable signs of stress:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings/changes
- Irritability/short temper
- Low self-esteem
- A feeling of overwhelm
- Eating more/less than usual
- Change of sleeping habits
- Upset stomach
- Chest pains
- Sexual dysfunctions
We all want to avoid the addition of stress within our lives as much as possible, but sometimes it’s inevitable.
Regardless of your working environment and your lifestyle choices, we are here to help. We have put together some top tips on how to reduce stress within your life.
1 – Have a Healthy Diet
Eating healthy can reduce your risk of diet related disease such as stress and anxiety. We all know getting sick can cause major stress as you’re missing work, not getting things done, and just overall feeling under the weather.
Similarly to this, food really does affect your mood. The more sugary, fatty foods you eat, the more you are going to feel low about yourself.
On the other hand, eating clean will make you feel good inside out. You won’t have a bloated or clogged feeling from eating greasy delicacies, but you will feel energised, refreshed and motivated to do things. This can make you feel a lot better about yourself by the end of the day because you can see the amount you have achieved, and how amazing you still feel hours after.
2 – Exercise
Going hand-in-hand with a good diet, a sustainable and beneficial fitness regiment is a perfect way to reduce stress. A good fitness routine is also beneficial to increase your concentration, fatigue and alertness.
Exercising releases a hormone called ‘endorphins’– this is essentially a chemical in the brain that works as a painkiller. It is commonly known as a ‘happy hormone’ as you are left feeling good and refreshed on the inside after exercising.
Your muscles, however, may be a little tender…
Similarly to this, a practical and somewhat challenging fitness routine will have a positive impact on your quality of sleep. After exercising, we feel like we need to collapse on our beds. Well, this feeling is somehow great! It means you have worked the body enough throughout the day to have the feeling of needing a recharge, so you will have a deeper, healthier sleep each night.
3 – Take Time Out
It is massively important to take time for yourself and find a moment of peace. It is all well and good, devoting a large section of your time to prioritising other people and becoming a responsibility to them. You need to remember that you come first- it is okay to put your own self care before that of others.
Taking a break is also very beneficial for your mental health and allows you to have a moment of cleansing and rejuvenation. From a spa weekend, nightly meditation, Forest Bathing escape or just a short couple of days at home away from work. This much needed down time allows you to stop and take a much needed break before putting and put your best foot forward after your time away.
4 – Get Some Rest
Struggling to sleep at night is a very common cause of stress as many other issues come trailing after a poor night’s rest- you just want your brain to shut off!
Getting a good quality sleep at night (no more than 7.5 hours, preferably) will allow you to feel well rested and motivated for the next day ahead. Annoyingly, too much sleep can only contribute to the issue of feeling rather dull during the day. Many of us assume a huge night sleep is the perfect medicine to feel better, but sadly it is not.
If you are having trouble getting enough sleep, you can use a sleep tracker like the Oura Ring to improve your sleep.
5 – Reduce Alcohol and Smoking Consumption
Many people smoke or drink alcohol as it gives a temporary feeling of comfort and somewhat ‘Zen’. Drinking alcohol (like exercising) releases the brains ‘feel good’ chemicals. Yes..I am on about endorphins. Smoking acts on the receptors in the brain to stimulate the pleasure centre. It is the nicotine in cigarettes and alcohol in our drinks that cause changes in the brain to bring a sense of calm and content-perfect if you are stressed out..right?
However, doing these things only brings a temporary change. A temporary sense of calm and contentment, which is why so many people become hooked and addicted as they want to obtain the feelings released from doing this full time.
Using these two stimulants actually only makes the feeling of stress worse. In fact, becoming hooked and almost reliant on these things only causes more stress to yourself. This is because it becomes a part of your day to smoke or drink alcohol to feel good, and, when you can’t get to either it causes an intense amount of stress.
Similarly, especially with smoking, it has been found that adults who do it are far more tense and anxious than those who do not smoke.Tension and anxiety are one of the biggest causes of stress because you feel trapped and want to calm down but your body just won’t let you.
6 – Don’t be Too Hard on Yourself
As a person, having opinions on everything around us and even on ourselves, is normal. Sometimes our heads can get slightly carried away and we can critique our own features or work very harshly. You don’t realise initially, but recognising these things and keeping them in your mind induces a huge amount of stress, usually because the opinions are based on things we cannot change.
Continuing with having a bad day, it is a common thing for us all. Some people can brush it off easily and take each day as it comes, but it hits down quite hard on the rest. One important thing you must remember to reduce stress is that a bad day is universal, everyone has one and the world is not out to get you. You are allowed to have a bad day and feel down about it, but tomorrow is a brand new. Try not to bring yesterday’s problems with you.
Similarly, you are allowed to feel like you have failed, or haven’t accomplished as much as you would have originally liked, it is all part of being human. So don’t neglect yourself or feel like you are not good enough- because you are, you’re just causing more stress for yourself by thinking these things, which is something you’d like to avoid!
7 – Have a Fulfilling Social Life
We don’t always have the free time to go out and see friends, or go for meals with loved ones, sadly. But, it is good to make arrangements when you have free time.
Getting out of the house and doing something as simple as a dog walk, is still being social and it is a perfect way to reduce stress and clear your mind for a while.
Socialising , without even realising, boosts your confidence and your mental health. Positive relationships in which you can socialise with regularly is a perfect way to reduce stress as it increases the hormone that fights back at anxiety levels to help you feel as great as possible.
From helping out in your local area to volunteering at a care home. You will be helping both yourself, and others by socialising with them, while also helping you to feel really great after.
It may feel at times, like you don’t have the motivation to go out and see people on your only day off. But, by having just having a small catch up with someone can be beneficial, and will take your mind off nagging thoughts. Regardless of whether these thoughts are work, money or related to your personal life.
Feeling stressed is natural, and we will all face it at some point. But learning how to reduce it or control it before everything gets too much is very important.
Along with using our recommended top tips of how to reduce stress, by being aware of the symptoms of stress to look out, you are more able to tackle stress head one when it arises.
Although beneficial and able to assist us in small quantities, the daily addition of stress can in fact lead to health issues and the development of distress.
Conquer stress head on and work to create and happier and healthier lifestyle.