Heart racing, running late, no time for anything, ready to rip your hair out.
Those are just some of the sensations and situations we find ourselves in when we're stressed.
And if we don't learn how to take the proverbial "chill pill," our life can quickly descend into a complicated mess of poor health, reduced quality of life, and void of happiness.
Therapists tell us all the time that we need to stress less and relax. But that's much easier said than done.
So here's what the experts say we should be doing to find more relaxation in our day.
How stress negatively impacts your life
Stress is a negative emotion caused by the perception of danger. Stress can be caused by a variety of things, including work, family, and personal relationships.
When you are stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is designed to help you deal with a perceived threat by preparing your body for fight or flight. However, when cortisol is released too often, it can have negative impacts on your health.
Stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. It can also cause problems with memory and concentration, and make you more susceptible to illness.
In short, stress can take a serious toll on your health and wellbeing. That's why it's important to find ways to relax and reduce stress in your life.
Ten tips for relaxing according to therapists
Knowing how vital relaxation is to your health and wellbeing, let's go through ten of the simplest, yet most effective tips that therapists swear by.
1. Identify the sources of stress in your life
It's no secret that anything in life has the potential to be stressful. Whether it's juggling a busy work schedule, caring for your family, or managing finances, there are many things that can cause us to feel overwhelmed.
One of the best ways to combat stress is to identify its source. Once you know what's causing your stress, you can develop a plan to deal with it.
For some people, work is the primary source of stress. If that's the case, you might need to find ways to better manage your time or delegate tasks. Others may find that their personal relationships are the main source of stress. In that case, communicating openly and honestly with loved ones can help to reduce tension.
Whatever the cause of your stress, there are steps you can take to ease your anxiety and regain a sense of calm.
2. Take some time for yourself every day to relax and rejuvenate
It can be tough to find time to relax, especially if you're always on the go. But it's important to take some time for yourself every day to unwind and recharge.
One way to do this is to schedule some "me time" into your day. Set aside at least 30 minutes to an hour each day to do something that you enjoy, without stress or obligations. This can be anything from reading a book and taking a bubble bath, to going for a walk-in nature or taking a yoga class.
Make sure to avoid using your phone or being on social media during this time, as this will only add to your stress levels. Instead, focus on being present in the moment and enjoying your chosen activity.
By making time for yourself each day, you'll be able to relax and rejuvenate, which will help improve your overall wellbeing.
3. Exercise regularly to reduce stress and anxiety
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Additionally, exercise can help to improve sleep quality, which is often negatively impacted by stress.
Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. This can be anything from going for a run or a bike ride, to playing a sport or taking a fitness class. Choose an activity that you enjoy so that it doesn't feel like a chore.
In addition to the stress-reducing benefits, exercise is also great for your overall health. It can help to improve heart health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and boost cognitive function.
4. Practice yoga or meditation to calm the mind and body
Yoga and meditation are two of the most effective ways to calm the mind and body. These practices can help to improve breathing, focus, and flexibility.
Yoga involves both physical and mental components. The physical element consists of various postures, or poses, that are designed to stretch and strengthen the body. The mental element is focused on breathing and relaxation, which can help to calm the mind.
Meditation is another effective way to reduce stress. This practice involves focusing on the breath and clearing the mind of thoughts. It can be done sitting, lying down, or even walking.
5. Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables
What you eat has a big impact on your mood and overall wellbeing. When you're stressed, your body needs nutrients to help it cope. Eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will give your body the nutrients it needs to deal with stress.
Additionally, try to limit the amount of processed foods you eat, as these can make stress worse. Eating sugary foods can also cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, which can leave you feeling irritable and exhausted.
Understandably, quick processed foods and snacks may be the most accessible food for your time and budget, but where possible, try to cook from scratch and use whole foods.
6. Get enough sleep each night
Sleep is essential for both physical and mental health. When you're stressed, it's important to get enough sleep so that your body can recover and repair.
Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. This may be difficult if you're struggling to cope with stress, but it's important to make sleep a priority.
There are a few things you can do to improve your sleep quality. Avoid using screens for at least an hour before bed, as the blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle.
Establish a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Make sure you incorporate the time it takes to fall asleep and wake up properly in your sleep schedule.
Finally, create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you wind down before sleep.
7. Take breaks during work to stretch and move around
When you're stressed, it's important to take breaks to move your body and get some fresh air. Sitting in the same position for long periods of time can make stress worse.
Set a timer on your phone or computer to remind you to take a break every 20 minutes or so. When the timer goes off, stand up and stretch, or take a quick walk around the block.
If you can't leave your desk, try doing some simple exercises at your desk, such as neck rolls or ankle swirls.
8. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can aggravate stress levels
Caffeine and alcohol are two substances we often rely on when stressed that can actually aggravate stress levels. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can increase anxiety and make it difficult to concentrate.
Alcohol is a depressant, which can initially provide some relief from stress. However, it can also lead to feelings of sadness and loneliness, and can disrupt sleep.
If you're struggling with stress, it's best to avoid caffeine and alcohol. If you can't completely give them up, try to limit your intake.
9. Spend time with loved ones who make you feel happy and relaxed
Spending time with loved ones is a great way to reduce stress. When you're around people who make you feel happy and relaxed, it can help to take the edge off of stress.
If you can't be with loved ones in person, spend time talking to them on the phone or via video chat. You can also send a text, email, or letter to let them know you're thinking of them.
10. Seek professional help if the stress is too much to handle on your own
If you're struggling to cope with stress and can’t relax, it's important to seek professional help. A therapist can help you understand and manage your stress, and provide you with tools and resources to help you cope.
Additionally, medication may be an option if the stress is severe and impacting your daily life. If you're considering medication, be sure to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.
Let relaxation be your life's philosophy
Stress can be a difficult thing to manage, but with the help of a therapist and some self-care, it is possible to reduce stress and live a happier, more relaxed life.
Follow the tips above, and you'll be a pro at dealing with your stress in no time!
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