5 ways to reduce stress

“If you know the point of balance, you can settle the details.  If you can settle the details, you can stop running around.  Your mind will become calm.  If your mind becomes calm, you can think in front of a tiger.  If you can think in front of a tiger, then you will surely succeed.” Mencius, Chinese philosopher

Stress happens. These past 7 months have probably been the most stressful we, as a nation, have seen in our lifetime.  The fear of the coronavirus, the shutdown of our world, the loss of income, along with any personal stresses you may have experienced, all have contributed to greater challenges in our lives.  How you deal with these stressors, however, will determine if you are more likely to suffer health problems or other complications. If you commonly experience stress that overwhelms you and affects other areas of your life, you can overcome this tension by applying some of these five tips into your daily routine.

In with the good air and out with the stress

When you are feeling stressed out, take a timeout to take a few deep and controlled breaths to help you calm down. According to The American Institute of Stress, when you breathe deeply you can actually change the physical and emotional effects of stress on your body. Probably the most expected outcome of deep breathing is that it slows down your respiration. But when your breathing slows down, your heart rate also slows down, muscles relax, and blood pressure is lowered as a result. Deep breathing also helps to slow down your mind so you are better able to concentrate on the situation. The next time you start to become anxious over a stressful situation, take time to take a few slow, deep breaths to help you remain calm and focused.

Move it to lose stress

Harvard Medical School notes that regular exercise can help reduce stress hormones produced by the body, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Moderate to vigorous activity can also increase the production of endorphins, which help to improve mood and provide a sense of well-being. In addition, maintaining a regular exercise regime can increase self-confidence and self-discipline, which can carry over to other areas of your life. As an additional stress-busting benefit, exercise helps you to sleep better, which helps you to better handle daily stress.

Soothe stress with tea

A study reported in Science Daily found that regular tea drinkers are better able to bounce back after experiencing stress. Those who drink black tea daily experience quicker reduction in cortisol and blood pressure following stressful situations. Green tea has stress-busting benefits as well. Green tea contains an amino acid called theanine that helps promote calmness and relaxation in the brain. This amino acid also helps in the production of another amino acid called Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, that reduces excitation in the brain. Both theanine and GABA increase levels of calming neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, which help you to feel calm.

Snicker stress away

The old adage “laughter is good medicine” is true, at least when it comes to reducing the negative effects of stress on the body and the mind. Laughing or simply smiling can reduce tension in the face while also triggering the production of endorphins in the brain. Laughter also helps to lower cortisol levels to help reduce this hormone’s harmful effects on the body.

Eat a healthy diet to ease distress

The foods you eat can both contribute to stress as well as reduce stress. Foods and ingredients that are known to increase anxiety and stress include caffeine, alcohol, fried foods, processed foods, and sugary foods and beverages. Eating a healthy and balanced diet full of lean proteins, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, dairy products, and fresh fruits and vegetables can provide you with the vitamins and minerals you need to reduce stress hormones, boost the immune system, and increase calming neurotransmitters. Chewing healthy, crunchy foods, such as nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits, can also help reduce stress by releasing built-up tension in the jaw.

Resources:

The American Institute of Stress; Take A Deep Breath http://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath/

Harvard Health Publications; Benefits of exercise – reduces stress, anxiety, and helps fight depression, from Harvard Men’s Health Watch; Harvard Medical School http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benef…

University College London; Black Tea Soothes Away Stress; reported in Science Daily October 27

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