Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations, whether they’re real or perceived.
Nowadays we generally use the word “stress” when we feel that everything seems to have become too much,
when we feel overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us.
Some possible effects of stress on your body:
- A tendency to sweat
- Back pain
- Chest pain
- Cramps or muscle spasms
- Erectile dysfunction
- Heart disease
- Muscular aches
Stress is a part of life: we cannot always avoid it, but we can try to avoid those situations that can cause it and prevent it from spiralling out of control again in the future.
Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem: smoking, drinking too much, craving junk food or spending hours in front of the computer…
If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones!
Here’s a list of 7 healthy ways to reduce and prevent stress:
- Drink Tea
Instead of coffee or energy drinks, try green tea. It has less than half the caffeine of coffee and contains healthy antioxidants, as well as theanine, an amino acid that has a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system.
- Get plenty of sleep
Your body recovers from the stresses of the day while you are sleeping. If your worries keep you from sleeping, you can keep a notepad by your bed to record what you are worried about. This will help you let it go while you sleep.
- Get moving!
Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress, but you don’t have to be an athlete or spend hours in a gym to experience the benefits. A short walk around the office or simply standing up to stretch during a break at work can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation.
- Listen to music
If you’re feeling you are getting into a stressful situation, try taking a break and listening to relaxing classical music or nature sounds (the ocean, a bubbling brook, birds chirping). Playing calm music has a positive effect on the brain and body.
- Engage socially
Lose the smartphone and start a conversation! There is nothing more calming to your nervous system than communicating with another human being. This experience of safety – as perceived by your nervous system – results from nonverbal cues that you hear, see and feel.
- Spend time outdoors
Being outdoors reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to a nature-rich environment not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
- Adopt healthy habits
Eat a healthy diet, limit how much alcohol you drink and don’t smoke: staying healthy is your best defence against stress. Stress levels and a proper diet are closely related. Unfortunately, it’s when we have the most work that we forget to eat well and resort to using sugary, fatty snack foods as a pick-me-up…
No single method works for everyone / in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies!