How Can You Help Yourself
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, such as work, family, relationships and money problems.
We mentioned earlier on that a moderate amount of stress can help us perform better in challenging situations,34 but too much or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems. This can include lower immunity levels,35 digestive and intestinal difficulties, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome ,36 or mental health problems such as depression.37 It is therefore important that we manage our stress and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
Get Breaking News & Relationship Advice Delivered To Your Inbox Daily
Step one helps you prepare for step two, although practicing step one alone is also fine. If you find it hard to calm your mind, ground yourself in your body to calm down. To do this, feel your feet strongly rooted into the earth. Notice or count your inhales and exhales, if that feels okay.
Take notice of one object. It may be the feel of your body against the chair, or your breath, or something else like a candle flame. Then , when your mind is more calm, notice whats up in your mind.
You might observe a thought as basic as, Oh, there is a lot of worry Just recognizing what you are thinking and feeling is mindfulness.
The practice is not about making your negative feelings go away, but rather about noticing, with curiosity, what your mind is up to.
Sexual Intimacy Reduces Cortisol
Did you know that people with healthy sex lives have lower cortisol levels? In addition to lowering cortisol after an initial uptick, sex also releases endorphins – your body’s feel-good neurotransmitters. And after orgasm, oxytocin levels increase, bringing relaxation and a decrease in anxiety.
Theres just one hitch. Too much cortisol can lower sexual drive. If you’re constantly stressed, you may not feel the urge.
If so, make sexual intimacy a priority if you want to receive its stress-reducing benefits and all its other perks. Set up a regular date night, slip into something comfortable, and set the mood with candles and music whatever works for you. Start with cuddles, hugs, and kisses, good ways to evoke the relaxation response.
Recommended Reading: Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Eczema
Can Stress Be Positive
Research has shown that stress can sometimes be positive. It can make you more alert and help you perform better in certain situations.2 However, stress has only been found to be beneficial if it is short-lived.
Excessive or prolonged stress can contribute to illness such as heart disease3 and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.4
Listen To Your Bridesmaids
Bridesmaids arent there just to look pretty. Your bridal party should be your number one go-to for everything to do with planning your big day. Whether you need a spark of inspiration or youre desperate for a second opinion, your bride tribe will be by your side to help you out. Trust us keeping things bottled up and trying to solve problems alone will only make things worse. At the end of the day, your bridesmaids are the girls that know you the best, so giving them your trust shouldnt be difficult. Keep an open mind and let your bridesmaids into the planning process, it will ultimately feel a whole lot easier.
Recommended Reading: How To Minimize Stress At Work
Learn To Recognize Stressful Thinking
Paying attention to stressful thoughts may help you reduce them.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a strategy that involves becoming more self-aware of stress-provoking thoughts, accepting them without judgment or resistance, and allowing yourself the ability to process them .
Training yourself to be aware of your thoughts, breathing, heart rate, and other signs of tension helps you recognize stress when it begins .
Recognizing stressful thoughts allows you to formulate a conscious and deliberate reaction to them. For example, a study involving 43 women in a mindfulness-based program showed the ability to describe and articulate stress was linked to a lower cortisol response (
Tending to your own happiness can help keep cortisol down. If youre feeling stressed, try listening to music or making yourself laugh.
Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation involves relaxing all the muscles in your body, group by group. To practice, you can start with a few deep breaths.
Then, practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes.
With practice, you’ll learn to recognize tension and tightness in your muscles and you’ll be able to relax more easily. Each time you practice, however, you should experience a feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body.
Don’t Miss: What To Do When Stressed At Work
Quick Stress Relief At Home
Entertaining. Prevent pre-party jitters by playing lively music. Light candles. The flicker and scent will stimulate your senses. Wear clothes that make you feel relaxed and confident.
Kitchen. Ease kitchen stress by breathing in the scent of every ingredient. Delight in the delicate texture of an eggshell. Appreciate the weight of an onion.
Children and relationships. Prevent losing your cool during a spousal spat by squeezing the tips of your thumb and forefinger together. When your toddler has a tantrum, rub lotion into your hands and breathe in the scent.
Sleep. Too stressed to snooze? Try using a white noise machine for background sound or a humidifier with a diffuser for a light scent in the air.
Creating a sanctuary. If clutter is upsetting, spend 10 minutes each day to tidy. Display photos and images that make you feel happy. Throw open the curtains and let in natural light.
Here Are 6 Tips For Managing Stress And Keeping Your Immune System Strong Until The Coronavirus Is Contained
1. Remind yourself that we are all interconnected.
No matter how alone you may feel, you are always part of something bigger. We are all in this together.
Connecting with others, even virtually, strengthens bonds and immunity. It also helps to buffer us against depression and worsened anxiety. This is where virtual technology and some forms of social media are heroes.
And remember, we have a moral responsibility to take care of people in our community, especially people who are more at-risk.
2. Remember that we are each responsible for our shared environment.
Remaining self-quarantined decreases the spread of the virus. It slows down the rate of spread so that hospitals can manage treating the people who are most vulnerable. We are being asked to make personal sacrifices for the greater good.
We aren’t hard wired this way, but is what we need to do to move beyond the crisis.
3. Remember that we have the capacity for the tenderness and compassion needed to overcome obstacles, challenges and even a pandemic.
Once panic sets in, biology takes over. Fight or flight mode is front and center. Our brain is not able to access the prefrontal cortex, the part that helps with rational decision making. When we panic, we tend to make poor decisions.
Ignoring reality does not make it go away. Denial is tempting, but not a useful refuge. It is the extreme alternative to anxiety.
5. Be of service to others in some way.
You May Like: How To Cope With Caregiver Stress
Eat A Nutritious Diet
Nutrition can influence cortisol for better or for worse.
While all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, being mindful of the foods you eat may alleviate symptoms of stress and help you better manage your cortisol levels.
Regular high added-sugar intake may result in elevated cortisol levels. Interestingly, a high sugar diet may also suppress cortisol release during stressful events, making it more difficult for your body to handle stressful situations (
For better gut and mental health, opt for a nutrient-dense diet full of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and foods high in prebiotics and probiotics.
Tip : Make Quick Stress Relief A Habit
Its not easy to remember to use your senses in the middle of a minior or not so minocrisis. At first, it will feel easier to just give into pressure and tense up. But with time, calling upon your senses will become second nature. Think of the process like learning to drive or play golf. You dont master the skill in one lesson you have to practice until it becomes second nature. Eventually youll feel like youre forgetting something if you dont tune into your body during challenging times. Heres how to make it habit:
Start small. Instead of testing your quick stress relief tools on a source of major stress, start with a predictable low-level source of stress, like cooking dinner at the end of a long day or sitting down to pay bills.
Identify and target. Think of just one low-level stressor that you know will occur several times a week, such as commuting. Vow to target that stressor with quick stress relief every time. After a few weeks, target a second stressor and so on.
Test-drive sensory input. If you are practicing quick stress relief on your commute to work, bring a scented handkerchief with you one day, try music another day, and try a movement the next day. Keep experimenting until you find a clear winner.
Have fun with the process. If something doesnt work, dont force it. Move on until you find what works best for you. It should be pleasurable and noticeably calming.
You May Like: Can You Go On Workers Comp For Stress
Resolve Issues Before They Become Crises
Its human nature to avoid unpleasant topics and circumstances, but if you’re concerned about a brewing situation, whether it’s at work or at home, address it early to keep it from becoming more serious, harder to solve, and more stressful for you. Problems are always easier to handle before they develop into full-blown calamities.
Everyone feels stress it’s impossible to avoid it all the time. But it is possible to keep stress under control by setting realistic expectations of yourself, learning how to keep problems in perspective, and enjoying relaxing breaks from the daily demands of life.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Healthy Living Center.
Choose Your Mortgage Carefully
It used to be, the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible. Today, the debt an average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it may be better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year. This way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when your budget allows. Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you plan to stay in your new home for a long time, paying the points will save you money.
Recommended Reading: Who To See For Stress And Anxiety
Look After Yourself Physically
When you are physically fit and well, it is much easier to cope with stress.
When you become stressed, it is harder to motivate yourself to care about what you eat, or whether you exercise. However, not doing so can also make you more stressed. Get into good habits while your stress levels are fairly low, and you may find that they never go up again. These good habits include:
Taking regular exercise
Stressful situations increase the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in your body.
These are the fight or flight hormones that evolution has hard-wired into our brains and which are designed to protect us from immediate bodily harm when we are under threat. However, stress in the modern age is rarely remedied by a fight or flight response. Physical exercise can be used as a surrogate to metabolise the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state.
Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime. Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.
You can assess your levels of daytime sleepiness with the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
Healthy Ways To Keep Your Stress Levels Down
For many people, 21st Century life seems to be a lot more stressful than it should. You know how it is, bills to pay, work or University deadlines to meet, personal issues to resolve, all eating at your attention around the clock so that you eventually end up missing out on sleep and feeling even worse.
Luckily, the grim spectre of stress can be kept at bay, and not by drinking the pain away, either. Here are some healthy ways to keep your stress levels down.
Eat More Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are already known to be packed full of essential nutrients like iron, vitamin A, vitamin K and magnesium, but theyre also a rich source of folate, which helps the body to produce feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
At least one study, done in 2012, found that subjects who consumed more folate were less likely to suffer from melancholic and depressive mood states.
Other research has found similar effects from consuming fruit and vegetables in general, with a 2013 study finding that eating fruit and veg calmed the nerves of young adults being evaluated.
Eat Enough in General
Not eating enough food makes people irritable, upset and stressed. This is a cast-iron fact of nature, known to all dieters across the land, as well as anyone whos ever interacted with them.
Break the cycle and find time for a proper meal.
Get More Sleep and Take Naps
Spend More Time in Nature
You May Like: Does Natrol Stress And Anxiety Work
Ways To Relieve Stress
The best way to manage your stress is to learn healthy coping strategies. You can start practicing these tips right away. Try one or two until you find a few that work for you. Practice these techniques until they become habits you turn to when you feel stress. You can also use this coping strategies form to see how you respond to stress.
Stress-relief techniques focus on relaxing your mind and your body.
Social And Job Issues That Can Cause Stress
- Your surroundings. Living in an area where overcrowding, crime, pollution, or noise is a problem can create chronic stress.
- Your social situation. Not having enough money to cover your expenses, feeling lonely, or facing discrimination based on your race, gender, age, or sexual orientation can add stress to your life.
- Your job. Being unhappy with your work or finding your job too demanding can lead to chronic stress. Learn how to manage job stress.
- Unemployment. Losing your job or not being able to find work can also add to your stress level.
Also Check: How To Reduce Stress Levels Immediately
Natural Ways To Lower Your Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a stress hormone the adrenal glands release. It helps your body deal with stressful situations, as your brain triggers its release through the sympathetic nervous system the fight or flight system in response to many different kinds of stress .
While the short-term release of cortisol can help you run quickly from danger, when cortisol levels are too high for too long, this hormone can hurt you more than it helps .
Over time, this can lead to an array of health issues such as weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, insomnia or difficulty sleeping, mood irregularities, and low energy levels (
This article discusses 11 ways to help naturally lower your cortisol levels.
What Happens When You Are Stressed
Stress is what you feel when you have to handle more than you are used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight stress response.
Some stress is normal and even useful. Stress can help if you need to work hard or react quickly. For example, it can help you win a race or finish an important job on time.
But if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can have bad effects. It can be linked to headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, and trouble sleeping. It can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off disease. If you already have a health problem, stress may make it worse. It can make you moody, tense, or depressed. Your relationships may suffer, and you may not do well at work or school.
Recommended Reading: Can Stress Lead To Depression
Types Of Relaxation Techniques
However, a whole range of relaxation practices can help you power down and de-stress.
There’s no one shoe that fits all, Smith says. He points to five or six approaches based on scientific observation and experience that really do work for stress reduction. There are other therapies, too, that you might find helpful. You can do one at a time or you can practice some together.
Taking Steps To Manage Stress
The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and distributed for noncommercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association. Any electronic reproductions must link to the original article on the APA Help Center. Any exceptions to this, including excerpting, paraphrasing or reproduction in a commercial work, must be presented in writing to the . Images from the APA Help Center may not be reproduced.
Don’t Miss: How To Get Stress Leave Approved