Sources of stress come in all sizes, from momentary frustrations to heartbreaking issues that seem to go on endlessly. A certain degree of daily stress is natural, but extreme ongoing stress can cause the body real damage. Under stress, our heart rates and blood pressure increase, and our bodies produce stress chemicals such as cortisol that may be harmful if they continue to circulate unchecked. This can strain the cardiovascular system and impair mental function. [This article, “Top 5 Hacks to Reduce Stress” was originally published in HealthXWire]
People may begin to ask if you’re ok — and you may say that you’re feeling fine — but are you, really? In this article, we will look at the top five chemical-free hacks to reduce stress.
Make a to-do list
To-do lists create structure and a sense of control as items are identified and organized. While constructing a list can be difficult, distinguishing between goals and specific tasks can be helpful.
The daily work routine often presents a number of repeating tasks that seem like they are never finished. From responding to work messages to finishing reading assignments, there are a multitude of ongoing jobs that need to be addressed, and to-do lists may help establish a rhythm for completing “open cycle” tasks.
Lists also make it easier to keep track of larger pending tasks, and when these are written down, it’s not necessary to expend as much energy continually trying to recall them, so they occupy less mental space. Also, checking items off a list is rewarding, and creates a record of accomplishments that is pleasing to review.
Cut back on coffee consumption
Consuming coffee or other caffeine-laden beverages in reasonable amounts may improve your mood and provide you with a better ability to focus. Nevertheless, caffeine can elevate cortisol levels, which can in turn contribute to the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Caffeine also has the potential to remain in your system for as much as eight hours at a time, so to ensure a restful night’s sleep despite consuming caffeine, limit consumption to the morning hours.
Get adequate sleep
Sleep is a way to recharge for the next day, and getting enough of it is critical. According to the American Psychological Association, “Adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night are more likely to report symptoms of stress.”
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule enhances one’s ability to concentrate and increases the capacity for reasoning and choice. With enough rest, both the ability to deal with stressors and tolerance for stress increase significantly. On the other hand, not getting enough sleep may cause a loss of patience, feelings of irritability and anger, less ability to think clearly, and more overall stress.
This can lead to a “sleep-stress cycle:” lack of sleep causes stress, and that stress in turn causes more sleep deprivation. Many report that their stress increases when the length and quality of their sleep decreases. Adults with high stress are also more likely to say that they are not getting enough sleep because their minds are racing, and 43 percent report that stress has caused then to lie awake at night.
Because cortisol is produced at night, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule helps regulate stress. Good sleep hygiene (such as waking up at a consistent time) also helps the heart, immune system, and memory.
Write it out
Writing in a diary or journal can be a helpful way to release stress, especially if a good support system isn’t available. Like making a to-do list, writing in a journal helps clear the mind. Journaling may also yield insights into what’s essential by allowing greater concentration on troubling issues, and writing things down may clarify what to do next. Mindful awareness while journaling can also reduce stress by itself by reinforcing focus on the present moment.
For journaling to be most successful, it must be done consistently. Committing some time to doing this on a regular basis is the ideal way to get started and to reap the greatest rewards in stress reduction and mental health. Remember: what may work for one person may not for another, so you need to create a schedule that suits you, and take it seriously. This writing practice may help regulate your thoughts and emotions so that you can enjoy a greater sense of well-being and remain calm regardless of stressors that may come along.
Exercise through it
Exercising may increase the brain’s endorphins, which are powerful neurotransmitters that can relieve pain and give a feeling of well-being. Altering your lifestyle to incorporate more exercise can actually have a favorable impact on the brain’s physical structure and functioning.
Stress relief may be achieved through the practice of almost any kind of physical activity, from gymnastics to yoga to walking. You may be hesitant to commit to a program of exercise because you’re not very familiar with the type of activity you choose, or perhaps because you’re out of shape, Don’t be. You can still benefit significantly from even a small amount of physical activity in terms of managing your stress.
The repeated actions associated with exercise change your focus towards your body and away your mind. You may get the same advantages available through meditation if you consciously focus on the rhythm of your movements when you are exercising. It’s also possible to feel energized and upbeat by concentrating on a single physical action. Focusing on the present moment may help provide you with sense of peace and clarity.
Healthline recommends these physical activities to reduce stress levels:
- brisk walking or jogging
- swimming or doing water aerobics
- playing tennis or racquetball
Yoga is another good form of physical exercise. It incorporates a variety of physical postures, deep breathing exercises, and muscle relaxation, lowering both the pulse and systolic blood pressure. It’s also doable by nearly anyone. Through the integration of both physical and mental practices, yoga aims to bring about a state of balance that includes relaxation and stress management.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a number of studies have shown that yoga may reduce stress. It may also help manage symptoms of depression and anxiety that arise out of difficult situations. In addition, yoga may enhance mood and an overall sense of well-being.
In the end, you must remember that stress is very common and can come and go. It is up to you to figure out strategies to reduce stress for you. If one method doesn’t work, try another.
This article does not contain health or medical advice, and the information contained herein is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any disease, condition or health problem. Before beginning any program of diet, nutrition or supplementation, seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional in order to determine the possible effects on your health, given your individual sensitivities, needs and objectives.