Stress, whether physical, mental, or emotional in nature, can have a negative impact on your health. Ongoing stress can weaken your immune system, increase the likelihood of illness, and slow the healing process. Researchers believe that stress contributes to as much as 80% of all major illnesses. Eating a well-balanced diet, sleeping restfully, getting regular cardiovascular exercise, incorporating nutritional supplements, as well as introducing relaxation practices such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing into your daily life, can help buffer the effects of negative stress on your body.
Here are 12 tips for reducing your stress level:
Get moving. Physical activity can help reduce and prevent the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. (More is better!) Walking, running, biking, hiking – whatever you enjoy – just do it!
Eat well. Keeping your body nourished with nutritious foods can help you better cope with stress, so watch what you eat. Start with a good breakfast and eat well-balanced, nutrient-dense foods the rest of the day. Fruits, vegetables and nuts are great snacks, chockfull of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that help nourish the nervous system. Protein-rich foods like fish, poultry, eggs, and beans will also give you sustained energy throughout your day.
Reduce caffeine and sugar. They may provide a temporary energy boost, but you’ll soon come crashing down and feel more tired than before. When you need a lift, try natural energy boosters such as an apple with nut butter, carrots with hummus, or a protein smoothie instead.
Find a furry friend. Studies have shown that the simple act of petting a cat or dog can reduce blood pressure, and animals have a natural knack for showing us how to relax and enjoy ourselves. Spend some quality time with your four-legged friends and you’ll be reminded of the really important things in life.
Sleep. Adequate sleep is vital to your well-being and helps you cope with stress. Studies have shown that lack of sleep increases your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may seem like an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head-on and with a clear mind.
Don’t forget to breathe. Deep breathing is a great way to reduce stress, help yourself relax, and increase your energy level. It’s easy to do and can be done in any quiet spot. Here’s how to do it. Begin by sitting comfortably. Take a deep breath through your nose, counting from 1 to 4 as you breathe in. Exhale through your mouth as your count down from 4 to 1. Repeat 20 times.
Journal. Many people find that writing down their problems or their stressors can help them develop a plan of action to deal with them.
Get your “me time.” Set aside time just for yourself, for rest, relaxation, and FUN. Create a list of your top 10 favorite activities, things that you truly enjoy and that help you combat stress. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries. Turn off the TV and relax!
Learn to say “NO.” Know your limits and stick to them. Don’t take on more than you can handle – it just leads to more stress.
Learn time management. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead, you can avoid these stress-inducing pitfalls. Use timers, schedules, and calendars as tools to regain control of your most valuable asset.
Supplement. Along with a good quality multivitamin, omega-3 supplement, there are many additional nutrients can help strengthen your body and support your nervous system. You could also try Pathway Relaxation Support or Pathway Adrenal Support.