Stress is present in all of our lives, today more than ever, mostly due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and all the health and economic issues it brings. While we can’t escape our reality, we can take better care of our mental health and reduce some of the daily stress we struggle with. Here are a few tips all of us can take up to manage stress:
If you’re a busy businessperson, you might think multitasking will help you keep all your tasks at hand, but this habit might be causing you a lot of stress. When you feel overwhelmed, try to give up multitasking and do one task at a time. Start your day by making a list of all things you need to do. When you finish one task, get on to the next one and tick off the completed task—it’s so satisfying and motivating.
If you want to rely on food to help you with stress, there are various dietary supplements you can try. For instance, lemon balm is a member of the mint family and it has amazing effects on anxiety. Omega 3 fatty acids are also beneficial. Students who took omega-3 supplements reported a 20% reduction in anxiety. Beverages like green tea contain polyphenol antioxidants that have many health benefits, one of them being stress reduction by boosting serotonin levels. And valerian is a well-known sleep aid with strong tranquilizing properties. Add these foods and drinks to your daily diet and you will feel healthy and relaxed.
Chew a gum
If you need a quick way to reduce stress, just grab a chewing gum and give your jaw some exercise. According to research, people who chew a piece of gum report lower levels of stress, but why? There are different theories: one states that chewing encourages the brain to produce waves similar to those of a relaxed state, but another states that chewing promotes blood flow to the brain which helps relaxation. The harder you chew the better the relaxing is going to be, so prepare your jaw for some hard work.
Take a break
No matter if you’re at home or at the office, when stress becomes too strong to handle, you should leave your chair and go outside for a 5-minute break. Spending some time outside will clear your head and help you ban stress from your life. Bring your cup of coffee or tea to keep you company or grab your cigarettes (not recommended in any way). If you’re a smoker, you can reduce some of the stress of addiction by switching to vaping and gradually quitting your habit. There are different vaping devices on the market, but if you’re a beginner, just grab the best disposable vape pen on the market and quickly satisfy your habit. Vaping is less harmful than tobacco and it definitely stinks less!
Take up exercising
One of the most efficient ways to combat stress is definitely exercising. Putting your body through physical stress can do wonders for mental stress relief, especially if you do it regularly, at least three times a week. According to studies, people who exercise regularly experience less anxiety than their couch-potato peers. Exercise blocks the production of cortisol and other stress hormones while helps the production of feel-good hormones that boost mood and reduce pain.
And don’t think that the only way to get exercise is to hit the gym. You can easily opt for something less demanding on the body like yoga. Yoga is a great stress-relief method that can benefit everyone no matter their age, sex, stress level or fitness level. What yoga does is increase your body and breathing awareness which can enhance mood (in some cases, as effectively as antidepressants). Yoga exercises, poses and breathing routines affect our nervous system and stress response which achieves great stress reduction. This ancient practice lowers your cortisol levels, blood pressure and heart rate while increasing GABA which helps with feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear.
When you’re stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode triggered by your sympathetic nervous system. When we’re in this state, our bodies release stress hormones and we experience symptoms like heart pounding, fast breathing and constricted blood vessels preparing our body to pounce. If you notice these symptoms, try to battle them by practicing breathing exercises that can activate other parts of the nervous system and trigger relaxation. There are various types of breathing exercises, the most commonly practiced ones are diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing and paced respiration.
Spend time with those you love
The physical touch from those you love (partner, family member, friend or close acquaintance) can reduce stress and instantly boost mood. If you have to be isolated due to the pandemic, you can rely on your pets. Petting an animal can boost the production of oxytocin that promotes positive feelings. Having a pet also gives you a purpose during quarantine, keeps you active and occupied—all of these qualities can help with stress reduction.
Laugh as much as you can
Laughing is great for health, but it can also reduce stress in many ways. A portion of laughter a day can lower stress response, relieve tension by relaxing your muscles and improve your immune system and mood. While it can be hard to find something to be happy about when you’re stressed, you can always find a comedy show to watch or give your funny friends a call and let them cheer you up with their jokes.
Practice saying ‘no’
The word ‘no’ can be your best weapon when fighting stress. If you tend to bite off more than you can chew in your career or private life, you can quickly get overwhelmed. Make a list of your priorities and just say ‘no’ to tasks, meetings and hangouts that are not at the top of your list.
While stress is almost impossible to avoid today, you can at least try to reduce it with these easy tips and practices. When you feel overwhelmed and ready to burst, rely on these stress-relief practices and you will feel better and more stable.