Stress Relief that Doesn’t Involve the Spa
Let’s face it: life can be stressful. Busy schedules, challenging jobs, a constant flow of information and news can all contribute to feelings of anxiety, overwhelm and stress. We don’t always have time to book a massage appointment or take a vacation, but we can find less expensive and less time consuming ways to reduce stress and take a breath.
Sleeping 7 or 8 hours per night is one of the best ways to reduce stress. If we’re feeling tired and overrun, stress can build and cause us to make other unhealthy choices that lead to more serious health concerns. While a full night sleep is sometimes the biggest challenge with busy lives, making sleep a priority will help. Set your alarm one hour before bedtime to remind you to slow down, unplug and get ready for some shut-eye. Eat dinner earlier in the evening so aid in digestion, which will in turn ensure you sleep more soundly. Avoid caffeine after 3PM, especially if you’re aged 40 plus.
Mindfulness and meditation may be having their moment in North America, but they have been an integral part of a balanced life for generations in the east. Dedicating 10 to 30 minutes per day to meditation can help to relieve stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health and achieve more relaxation by calming the mind and focusing on clear, positive thoughts. Removing the cluttered, often negative thoughts from your mind, even for a few minutes a day can help to restore relaxation and decrease anxiety.
Exercise has a similar effect as meditation because it gives you the time to be alone with your thoughts, or let them go. Exercise of any kind will help to relieve stress as it releases endorphins in the brain, which improves your mood. It also reduces the risk of other health conditions such as obesity and high cholesterol, which can cause stress.
Eating healthy foods helps to reduce stress because nutrient-rich foods help regulate energy levels and provide you with the vitamins and antioxidants necessary for a balanced lifestyle. Eating junk food plays games with your body, and subsequently your mind by giving a temporary high, followed by a significant crash. These highs and lows make us irritable and less capable of managing stressful situations.
Don’t underestimate the power of unplugging. We are constantly connected through our devices that offer us social connection and convenience, but also produce stress through their constant access to information and news. By turning off our cell phones and computers, we are at the very least disconnecting from a few channels that bring stress into our immediate environment. Try unplugging and connecting to your loved ones face-to-face, take a walk in nature or pick up a book. These no cost, simple activities can enrich our lives in ways we might have been missing.
Whenever possible, connect to friends and family. Personal, meaningful connection is harder and harder to find in today’s fast-paced world. Take the time to speak to friends over the phone instead of texting. Make plans to see one another weeks in advance if your schedules are packed. The power of face-to-face contact should never be overshadowed by the online world.