Tips for Reducing Stress
Stress has become a feared six-letter word. It’s a sign of danger. The Merriam-Webster definition even includes a scary entry: a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation. Check out these tips for reducing stress!
Need tips for reducing stress?
It’s important to note that not all stress is bad for you. Stress can give you the energy to do important tasks and is a built-in tool for survival.
However, too much stress with no relief can be hard on your body and mind, leading to all types of physical problems.
This is why learning what stress is, what it does to your body and how to manage it can prove beneficial.
Types of Stress
There are two types of stress: acute and chronic.
Acute stress is temporary, with short duration. It can be helpful when you’re on a deadline, for example. It can also be damaging (e.g., the response to severe trauma).
Chronic stress is present over a long period of time, without control. It can chip away at the body’s defenses. This type of stress most benefits from stress management.
It appears the stress response for men and women is different. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), women are more vulnerable to stress hormone receptors than men, making their results of stress all the more problematic.
Negative Impact of Stress
Stress can lead to brain shrinkage and the death of brain cells. Below are just some of the examples where stress can be bad for your brain:
- Stress opens the way for toxins. The brain’s gatekeeper, the blood-brain barrier, is vulnerable to breaches when you are confronted with stress
- Stress causes a rush of the hormone cortisol, damaging the hippocampus (the region of the brain associated with learning, memory and emotion)
- Stress causes the adrenal glands to release the hormone adrenaline, too much of which is tied to a number of health problems and illnesses
Tips for Reducing Stress
To protect your brain, you can relieve stress and promote overall health by partaking in the following:
Even a few minutes of meditation and mindfulness can be helpful. Work your way up to a daily 20-minute session for best results. In a blog for the Huffington Post, New Jersey neurosurgeon Dr. Arno Fried confirmed that, “Multiple sources have provided evidence on the connection between mediation and positive brain changes.”
Deep breathing can physically reset you. Try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Inhale through your nose to the count of four; hold your breath for a count of seven; exhale strongly through your mouth for a count of 8. This will help you relax.
Regularly hitting the gym, walking, biking, jogging or cycling all help you decompress. Exercise promotes overall health. Moreover, your body is better able to deal with stress if you are fit.
Yoga and tai chi
Yoga for stress relief is not limited to the physical aspect. It also includes breathing and meditation techniques. Tai chi, an ancient Chinese tradition, is a slow and meditative form of movement guaranteed to promote mindfulness.
Eating stress-relieving foods
Green leafy vegetables, turkey breast, oatmeal, salmon, yogurt, blueberries, avocados, nuts and seeds—these are all foods that contain elements known to combat stress.
Listening to music
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation, try taking a break and listening to relaxing music. Playing calm music has a positive effect on the brain and body, lowering blood pressure and reducing cortisol, a hormone linked to stress.
Getting sufficient and restful sleep
Unfortunately, lack of sleep is another key component to stress. It causes the brain and body to get out of whack and can cause many of the health problems related to stress.
In addition to the above, you should avoid:
Alcohol and recreational drugs
While drinking and drugs are often a method of relieving stress, in the long run, they often add to stress while reducing the ability to handle it.
Caffeine, a stimulant, is counterproductive to promoting relaxation, which is necessary for decompressing from stress.
Should stress compromise the brain, all is not lost.
There are many ways scientists have discovered that the brain can grow and be recharged.
Ultimately, stress is a lifestyle issue as much as anything else. Take a deeper look at some techniques to get a grip on stress and how you can keep it from getting out of control. Get started on these tips for reducing stress!
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