Stress Management May Reduce Health Problems Linked To Stress Which Include Cognitive Problems And A Higher Risk For Alzheimer’s Disease And Dementia
It’s not uncommon to feel disorganized and forgetful when you’re under a lot of stress. But over the long term, stress may actually change your brain in ways that affect your memory.
Studies in both animals and people show pretty clearly that stress can affect how the brain functions, says Dr. Kerry Ressler, chief scientific officer at McLean Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Scientists have seen changes in how the brain processes information when people experience either real-life stress or stress manufactured in a research setting. Either type of stress seems to interfere with cognition, attention, and memory, he says.
Stress affects not only memory and many other brain functions, like mood and anxiety, but also promotes inflammation, which adversely affects heart health, says Jill Goldstein, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Harvard Medical School. Thus, stress has been associated with multiple chronic diseases of the brain and heart. In addition, it can affect men and women differently, she says.
Take A Closer Look At Your Stress
Invisible stress is real, and it can build up into chronic stress. Sometimes we dont notice it because its been there the whole time, like a freckle or mole. However, changing freckles or moles are something you want to take the time to check out, right? Stress is the same.
If you notice a change in your patience or find yourself more easily triggered by slight noises or simple mistakes, consider whether you need to take a break and calm your mind, or if theres something bigger at play. Chronic stress can increase your risk for other mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety.
If these strategies arent giving you tools to cope, try seeking help from a professional.
Do A Short Breathing Exercise
This exercise is called square breathing. You might also hear it called box breathing, four-part breathing, or 4×4 breathing. To do the square breathing, follow the steps below:
Exhale all of the air out of your lungs.
Count to four slowly as you inhale through your nose only. As you inhale, you should feel the hand on your stomach rise. Your other hand should not move.
Lightly hold your breath in your lungs for another count of four.
Count to four a final time as you gently exhale the breath slowly out of your mouth. The hand on your stomach should fall again as you do this.
Repeat this exercise at least four times to relax and relieve stress.
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How To Be Mindful Of Your Thoughts
Learning how to be mindful and observe your thoughts non-judgementally can help combat rumination and may lead to better sleep, more effective downtime after work, greater focus, and increased creativity. The practice may even be good for your relationships. So investing some time in mindfulness strategies is well worth it.
If your thoughts about a stressful situation become “stuck” and thinking about an event no longer leads to positive change, its time to take steps to change your thinking.
That said, letting go of negative emotions is easier said than done. There are a few techniques to quiet your thoughts that you can try.
Ways How To Achieve Ease Of Mind
Every situation has a silver lining discover a mindset that heals and enlightens.
The energy of the mind is the essence of life.- Aristotle
Peace, calmness, quietness, relaxation These things sound so simple, yet sometimes they can be hard to obtain. It becomes hard to achieve ease of mind, because we get lost in our minds and get carried away from our normal lives and joys.
Luckily, theres always solution to every problem in this world. Here we explain how to ease your mind and find your inner peace and happiness.
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Talk To A Good Friend
Gaining social support from trusted friends can help you to process what you’re feeling, and supply you with an influx of new and helpful ideas for how to manage your stressors, which can help you know how to relax your mind by helping you feel less burdened by your stressors. That’s why maintaining a supportive circle of friends is important.
Getting out of a rumination rut by talking things out with a trusted confidante can help you feel more relaxed and provide the clarity you need to take action.
Cut Out Things That Add To Your Stress
Sometimes, the best way to reduce your stress is to cut something out of your life. Get rid of the things that are adding to your stress so you can experience more peace.
Watching the news, being constantly connected to your digital devices, drinking alcohol, and consuming too much caffeine are just a few of the things that may add more stress to your life. Making some changes to your daily habits could be instrumental in helping you feel better.
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Stress Relief Techniques To The Rescue
Activities that switch on the bodys natural relaxation response feel great, Buenaver says. And they have been proven by research to improve sleep. They help by reducing the release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and by slowing your heart rate and breathing. Your body and mind calm down.
Yoga, tai chi and meditation are helpful stress relief techniques. So are these two simple exercises that Buenaver recommends to patients who are struggling with sleepless nights.
- In a quiet place, sit or lie down in a comfortable position. It may help to close your eyes.
- Breathe slowly in and out for about five minutes. As you inhale, breathe down into your belly. Focus on your breath.
- If youd like, repeat to yourself, Breathing in I am calm, breathing out I am coping.
Progressive muscle relaxation:
- In a quiet place, sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
- Take a few gentle breaths, in and out.
- Begin tensing groups of muscles one at a time as you breathe. Hold the tension as you inhale, then release it as you exhale. Take a few breaths as you notice how relaxed each muscle group feels.
- Start with the muscles in your head, neck and face. Move down to your shoulders, hands and arms, back, stomach, buttocks, thighs, calves and feet.
- Repeat for any areas that are still tense.
As you go through this exercise, feel the presence and absence of tension so you can spot lingering tension and do something about it, Buenaver says.
Highly Effective Tips For Relieving Stress
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to stress relief, however. What works for one person might not work for another.
And what works for you at home might not be an option when you’re at work or in the community .
So it’s important to have a variety of stress relief tools at your disposal. Then, you’ll be able to pick a strategy that works best for your current circumstances.
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How To Relax And Unwind
This is something we all need to do from time to time. Whether its at work or at home, we sometimes simply need to step aside and find ways to relax, ways to calm down and engage our mind in relaxing things to do. How we unwind is different from person to person. We all have our own ways to calm down and chill out. For some, this could mean stepping out for a few minutes, taking a nice and relaxing walk. For others, it could be playing some type of sport, doing meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises. Some just learn how to chill out by watching their favorite TV show or corking up a bottle of wine, on a Friday evening.
The important part is that we all find the ways that work for us, ways that allow us to unwind and enjoy wellness. Being able to fall back onto relaxing things to do will help us learn how to relax. If its a work-related matter, and you are just about to do a big presentation, take a few minutes to step aside and try the square breathing exercise mentioned above. By following these simple steps you will instantly feel a sense of calm coming over you. In addition, for the next time you get this feeling again, youâll have a better sense of how to calm yourself down effectively.
Pay Someone A Compliment Genuinely
Though it might seem counteractive to compliment someone else when youre feeling stressed out or down, but it has been found that when we take the time to give others encouragement, it will release the hormones in our brain that make us feel good. It takes the focus off of ourselves and point out the positive in others. The real trick to this is that the compliment has to be genuineso mean what you say!
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When Does Stress Become ‘toxic’
To face stress, the nervous system responds by releasing hormones and neurotransmitters to increase the individuals heart rate and blood pressure to face the perceived danger. The muscles tense up and breaths shorten. Once the stressor has been confronted, the stress response then deactivates and returns back to homeostasis, which is a balanced and relaxed bodily state.
How To Use Water To Reduce Stress And Soothe Your Mind
Research has shown that exercising in the water can reduce stress on our joints. But water can also relieve stress from another very important part of us our minds.
Do you have fond memories of being around water? Think back to the beaches you went to as a child, the seas you snorkeled in on your honeymoon, the lake you vacationed in early fall, the river or streams you fished with family, or the neighborhood community pool you swam at with your childhood friends.
Most of us find water, in all its forms, to be quite therapeutic, and theres a reason these memories of water make you feel calm. Research shows that aquatic scenes can help you lower stress levels and find joy.1 In fact, people who live along coastlines tend to be happier and healthier than people who dont, according to the European Centre for Environment & Human Health. Water makes you happier, healthier, more connected to other people, and better at what you do, says Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D., author of Blue Mind.
Also, being in that stage of life , dealing with hot summer days, or any day really, can be unbearable. Water fitness is an excellent way to combat the heat of the summer and the flashes of heat from this life stage by cooling your body temperature, which will also enhance your feel good mood.
Debbie Moore is the Director of Aquatic Fitness at American Family Fitness. To learn more about water safety or to register for swim lessons, please
Questions? Contact Debbi Moore at
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Stress Triggers In Life
Many things in life can trigger our stress response from everyday matters like managing our workloads, financial worries or relationship conflict, all the way to bigger events like moving, having a baby or going through bereavement. Physical health struggles can also weigh us down mentally and may require extra emotional self-care.
We may be particularly vulnerable to this if we have experienced difficulties in the past, such as childhood trauma, bullying or abuse, or if we have genetic vulnerability in the family towards mental health problems. In such cases, its all the more important that we take good care of ourselves and stay mindful of the amount of stress in our day-to-day lives.
As you can see, sources of stress are all around us in the world and they are impossible to avoid. While we can have some control over the amount of stress in our lives, sometimes the most we can do is to learn how to better manage the effects of stress and how to sufficiently recover from it.
As the saying goes you cant stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf!
The best way to handle stress is to build up multiple pillars of support in our life. Below, you can learn about many techniques and activities that could form the right pillar for you. The more we can incorporate these practices into our routine, the greater our strength and resilience will be in the face of stress.
Make Your Working Space Clean And Organized
People with mental health challenges can be triggered and affected by a messed up working space. They get extremely crossed if they see their desk cluttered with wires, cords piles of papers, stationery, and files, all this drives them crazy. They desire a clean and organized space to work efficiently without any disturbance.
For the clear and peaceful mind, you must have to keep your place clean and organized while working in an office, at home or anywhere.
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Clean Your Room Desk Or Dishes
Besides removing clutter and giving you relief from a crowded space, cleaning is an effective mindfulness practice. One study found that students who washed dishes had greater states of mindfulness and positive moods.
If you dont have time to clean thoroughly, take this opportunity to organize items or tackle one cleaning task at a time. For example, if you have a load of laundry, use each washing and drying load to time your breaks.
Chillax With Some Chocolate
When you need a quick break, break off a square of dark chocolate to boost your brain health and reduce stress Berk L, et al. . Dark chocolate increases acute and chronic EEG power spectral density response of gamma frequency for brain health: enhancement of neuroplasticity, neural synchrony, cognitive processing, learning, memory, recall, and mindfulness meditation. DOI: 10.1096/fasebj.2018.32.1_supplement.878.10 . As an added bonus, dark chocolate is lower in sugar than milk chocolate, but it hits the sweet tooth sweet spot.
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Once Youve Identified Your Go
Whether it’s a walk in the park, a luxurious bath with a book and a beverage, a little self-love, or rewatching your favorite rom-coms, it’s all about scheduling an unbreakable appointment with yourself.
“I tell women to look for small opportunities for relaxation. Fifteen minutes at lunch, an hour before bedtime, a few hours on the weekend,” Kaplin says. “Itâs the ‘pay ourselves first’ concept. If we relax and take care of ourselves first, the rest will easily fall into place. If not, we wonât show up the way we want to, and we will never feel rested.”
For more ways to live your best life plus all things Oprah,
Keep A Thought Record
One of the ways that people better understand their anxiety symptoms is by recording their thoughts. This can be done in a traditional paper journal, but there are other options, especially when it’s inconvenient to carry an extra notebook everywhere. The app Thought Diary is a simple interface, letting you write down your mood and any details about it. It also includes other thought exercises, such as practicing gratitude and analyzing a thought.
Reviewing your thought record occasionally can help you draw connections, including things like how sleep, exercise and nutrition impact your anxiety symptoms.
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Improve Your Mental Health With These 6 Mind
Thought exercises can help you reframe your negative thinking and control worrying.
If you live with anxiety, chronic stress or another mental health disorder, you know how negative thinking can affect your well-being. Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing you can do but have the thoughts, letting them influence your emotions, behaviors and actions. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
Thought exercises can help you see experiences in a new light, and change how much power your negative thoughts have over you. Not only can thought exercises help you ease stress in the moment, they also can help us to make our subconscious thoughts go in more productive, helpful directions over time. Let’s go through the top six thought exercises you can do to improve your mental health. We’ll even show you how to perform them.
Use Cognitive Defusion Exercises
Cognitive defusion exercises are all about getting an outside perspective on our thoughts, or strategies that help us detach and look more clearly at our thoughts. They are used frequently in CBT and other types of cognitive therapy.
- Use a silly voice: Some people find it helpful to detach from their thoughts by using a silly voice to say something like, “Oh, you think this is very concerning, do you?” or some other observation about the thought.
- Leaves on a stream: Some people use the visualization that their thoughts are floating down a river, coming to them and then going away, as a way to see the thoughts as separate from their core identity.
- Label your thoughts: Some people find it helpful to identify “that is an anxious thought” or “this is a fearful thought” as they have the thoughts, helping to take them out of being an assessment of reality and treating them as separate items which don’t have to be believed outright.
- “Thank you mind”: When our minds tell us a warning in the form of an anxious thought, we can offer gratitude to our mind for trying to help us and warn us.
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Make Eye Contact With Others
When youre feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the number of tasks swirling around your mind, take a deep breath, look in your someones eyes, and breathe out. Even a small moment of connection can help when everyones rushing around, says Dr. Clay Drinko. Why? Taking a moment to look at your spouse, kids, or friends to make strong, connected eye contact reminds you why youre working so hard. Eye contact is also a good way to remind yourself youre in a physical space, surrounded by people you can talk it out to. It helps moor your thoughts on whats in front of you, not whats next to do.