Stress can seem like an inevitable part of life in our hectic modern world. So why is it important to know how to reduce stress? Stress can have devastating consequences for our well-being. Nearly 90% of all health problems are related to stress in some way. Chronic stress can even contribute to such catastrophic conditions as heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, cancer, depression and adrenal or chronic fatigue.
With all the terrible consequences stress causes, it’s essential to have a range of proper stress management tools at your disposal. Here are five simple, easy things you can do today to start feeling your very best.
What you put into your body matters. Studies show that certain compounds in food can have stress-fighting effects. If you want to know how to reduce stress mentally and physically, eating right is the way to go. By boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure, a healthy diet can help your body recover from stress, too.
Polyphenols found in green leafy vegetables and carotenoids in brightly coloured ones like capsicums and kumara have been shown to have stress-fighting effects. Foods high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, can help lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Some foods can boost your levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which stimulates feelings of calm. These include complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Don’t think you have to go without indulging - delicious dark chocolate has been shown to reduce stress at a molecular level!
Stress increases our needs for nutrients especially amino acids, vitamins B and C, essential fatty acids and minerals like magnesium, manganese and zinc. It's advisable to get an epigenetics test to assess your personal nutritional load. These tests are inexpensive and convenient, as they can now be done online in New Zealand. Knowing what our body needs takes away the guesswork and allows us to optimise our nutrition.
Want to know how to reduce stress almost immediately? Get more sleep. Research has shown that adults who sleep fewer than eight hours a night sufferer from higher stress levels. They’re also more likely to report feeling irritable, overwhelmed, impatient, and lack interest, motivation, or energy.
Sleep is an essential function - it’s what lets our bodies rest and our brains recharge. When we fail to get enough sleep, our bodies don’t have enough time to perform vital maintenance tasks. Even a little extra sleep makes a difference. Research has shown that most Americans would benefit from improved physical and psychological health with just an additional 60 to 90 minutes a night.
If you’re wondering how to reduce stress while boosting your physical health, exercise is the answer for you. In addition to its tremendous impacts on the body, exercise can also make a real difference to mental well-being.
Research has shown that exercise can reduce levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. In contrast, it stimulates the production of endorphins. These brain chemicals are the body’s natural painkillers. They are what’s responsible for the relaxed, optimistic feelings we get after a hard workout.
But you don’t need to be training for the Olympics to feel the stress-reducing impacts of exercise. Almost any form of exercise, including yoga, can help lower your stress levels and feel better. It is important not to over exercise especially if we have adrenal or chronic fatigue as this can have a detrimental effect on stress levels. Exercise helps us feel psychologically better but over exercising drains our energy resources which reduces the production of happiness neurochemicals.
Meditation is a form of relaxation focused on awareness of the present moment that can teach you how to reduce stress in the long-term. Meditation aims to acknowledge all your body’s thoughts, feelings, and sensations without reacting to them. Research has shown that it can improve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. It even enhances attention and memory and can promote self-regulation and empathy.
The best part of meditation is that it can be done by anyone, anytime, anywhere. It requires no special equipment, and you can do it on a walk, on the bus, or while waiting at the doctor’s.
While meditation has thousands of years of history in religious practice, it is commonly used these days in a secular manner, as a tool to practice relaxation. When it comes to knowing how to reduce stress, practitioners of meditation have had a long history to get it right. There are many different types of meditation out there, so there’s sure to be one that works well for you.
If you want to learn to meditate, let our trained experts help.
A strong social support network can play a huge role in fighting stress. It offers you the comfort of knowing you have friends, family, and peers to turn to when things get tough. On the other hand, a lack of social support can lead to isolation and loneliness, leading to a greater risk of health problems.
If you want to know how to reduce stress because of a busy life, don’t worry. Social support doesn’t have to take hours. Quick interactions like short chats, phone calls or coffee breaks are all great ways to develop relationships. Studies have shown that social support offers numerous benefits, like improving your ability to cope with stress, reducing stress, and even lowering cardiovascular disease risks.
But how do you connect with new people if you’ve just moved to a new city? There are many ways to do so. Try volunteering - pick a cause that matters to you, and you’ll meet people with similar interests and values. It’s a great way to learn how to reduce stress while making a difference. You could join a gym or fitness group, take a class, or even find an online social network based around an interest or hobby.
It’s essential to nurture your existing relationships, too! Stay in regular touch, practice good listening, and make sure to be there for your friends and family when they need you, too.