Our daily lives are filled with situations and challenges that cause us to feel stressed and anxious. Although it’s often perceived as a negative sensation, the stress we feel can be good, especially when it’s a feeling we experience short-term and in small doses.
Stress produces a fight-or-flight response, which can help us perform well under pressure, increase our ability to adapt to challenges, and even aid us in the decision-making processes. This is often referred to as eustress (positive stress).
On the other hand, there is distress, the second type of stress. It’s the type of stress that can wreak havoc on our bodies if left unmanaged, often leading to chronic diseases. In this article, we’ll be focusing on the latter type of stress, exploring the different ways wellness and fitness can help you de-stress and keep this negative feeling under control.
Make an effort to eat better every day.
The fast-paced lifestyle of the modern world often has us prioritizing convenience over health and nutrition. Grabbing a doughnut to go with your morning latte is much less time-consuming than preparing a healthy breakfast at home.
While there’s nothing wrong with indulging in little sugary foods occasionally, the truth is, sugary foods can spike your blood sugar levels. This, in turn, increases the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, and results in rapid blood sugar level fluctuations that can leave you feeling stressed out and anxious. The same goes for artificial sweeteners, alcohol, excess caffeine, and processed carbohydrates.
Avoid these stress-causing foods, and instead focus on eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Make an effort to eat better every single day, discover new, healthy recipes, and try planning your meals well in advance.
Include healthy supplements into your diet
Other than focusing on a nutritious and balanced diet, it would help if you also considered supplementing it with healthy add-ons. Supplements can be a great addition to a person’s diet. Depending on their type, they can boost your performance(e.g., pre-workout supplements), protect your immune system, and reduce anxiety symptoms.
Taking supplements such as organic aloe vera powder will help boost your immune system that’s been weakened by long-term stress. This, in turn, will increase its ability to ward off antigens and make you more resistant to infections. Other supplements you should consider including in your diet are omega-3 fatty acids, green tea, lemon balm, and valerian root.
They can help with stress and anxiety reduction, but you should consult with a doctor before taking them if you have an existing medical condition.
Good exercise routine
One of the best things you can do to protect your overall health and combat stress is to exercise regularly. And it doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym every day or engaging in overly strenuous activities you don’t particularly enjoy. In fact, this mindset is why so many individuals feel discouraged from exercising. The other common reason is the lack of time.
Studies show that individuals who engage in moderate physical activity display higher self-esteem and confidence levels, lower stress levels, decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression, improved memory, and better sleep.
Walking and jogging prove to be especially effective as stress relievers, and the same goes for cycling, swimming, and dancing. Find an activity you enjoy and stick with it.
Experience the outdoors more often
Spending most of your time indoors can easily leave you feeling down and stressed out. Negative thoughts may start to creep in, and you may find yourself feeling exhausted, depressed, uninspired, and disconnected. These feelings show that you need to re-energize your body and mind and change that negative outlook on life.
One of the ways to combat those negative emotions is to spend more time in nature. Studies show that getting some “green time,” especially in places abundant in trees and greenery, can result in lower cortisol levels, better mood, and reduce chances of developing a mental health condition. You can reap similar benefits by bringing the outside in, tending a garden, and spending time in urban green spaces.
Get extra sleep
Sleep, just like nutrition and exercise, plays a vital role in managing and reducing stress. Not getting enough sleep on a daily basis doesn’t only make it more difficult for your body to function normally. It also takes a huge toll on your mental health, causing you to experience low energy levels, a bad mood, and difficulty concentrating.
On the other hand, when a person is well-rested, they can tackle stressful situations with more ease. Getting a good night’s sleep also reduces the risk of conditions such as stroke, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. To take advantage of this powerful stress reducer, aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night.
The best ways to achieve this include ensuring a good sleep environment and relying on peaceful, stress-lowering techniques before bedtime.
Socialize with others
We all go through some stressful times every now and then. Those are the times when we feel particularly vulnerable. Depending on the severity of the situation, we can find ourselves feeling lost, hopeless, or like we don’t belong anywhere. It is in those times that we need social support the most.
Spending time with friends and family members who understand what we’re going through can be a powerful stress reliever. It can do wonders for our self-worth and a sense of belonging and acts as an effective mood booster. Therefore, do your best to maintain relationships with those closest to you, and you’ll have no trouble warding off stress.
Give your body the best care you can
The never-ending list of tasks often leaves us with little to no time to ourselves. However, putting your mental and physical health on a backburner won’t do any good. In fact, it can make the overwhelming feeling of tension and stress even worse.
While prioritizing self-care and tending to your individual needs can feel challenging when you’re strapped for time, it’s an essential component of effective stress management. Everyone has different things that work for them, so spend some time figuring out what feels right for you.
Aromatherapy, along with long baths or showers, can work wonders when it comes to engaging your senses. Nourishing your body with skin and beauty treatments can leave you feeling rejuvenated while getting a massage will promote relaxation.
Practice mindfulness and deep breathing
Heading to the spa can be a perfect way to reduce tension and stress. That said, sometimes all you need to do to banish stress is to remind yourself to live in the present. Instead of looking outward for solutions to your anxiety and stress, look inward.
If you catch yourself thinking negatively or feeling stressed, put a couple of deep breathing exercises to the test. Focus on your breath, breathing slowly and more deeply, and anchor your mind to the present moment. Meditate whenever you feel the tension rising, and make it a part of your daily routine.
Keep a journal and identify the causes of your stress.
Last but not least, combating your stress also means addressing it effectively. A good way to start is to write down your thoughts and feelings whenever you feel stressed.
This is known as stress journaling, and it allows you to take a closer look at what’s stressing you out. It lets you work through the negative feelings you’re experiencing, inspecting everything from your habits to your attitudes and excuses. It helps you identify your anxiety and stress roots, which you can then address more quickly.
You can journal your feelings daily, weekly, or as often as you need to. After writing it down:
- Reflect on your feelings, your reactions to stress, and how you cope with it.
- Come up with a plan on how you can handle the stress more positively and make the necessary changes.
- If possible, remove the source of your tension.
- If not, be willing to adapt, change what you can, and compromise on the things you can not.
Stress is an inevitable part of life. Although we don’t always have control over it, we can all do our best to reduce and manage stress. Try different de-stressing methods, see what works, and stick with it. Not only will you feel better and happier, but you’ll also help protect your physical and mental well-being.