We all experience stress from time to time in life. Sometimes, stressors cannot be avoided, so the stress we experience must be managed properly so that we can avoid serious health consequences. High stress levels can cause sleep disruption, poor health functioning, a lowered immune system, increased levels of “flight or fight” hormones such as cortisol, and even hair loss. While it is important to reduce our stressors as much as possible by setting healthy boundaries, managing expectations, and avoiding toxic situations in our lives, it is also important to develop coping mechanisms to help reduce stress directly. These can include self care activities, volunteering for charitable causes, and seeking counseling if needed to cope with a particularly stressful situation or time in your life.
Try these tips to help reduce stress:
Develop a self-care routine.
Self care activities can include anything that makes you feel rejuvenated, such as taking a hot bath, applying special essential oils, giving yourself a facial, getting a pedicure, or even treating yourself to a coffee and pastry.
Practice breath work.
Intentionally slowing your breath helps you tell your body that it is safe, even when you are worried about something beyond your control. Controlled breathing is an ancient method of reducing stress that people have practiced for thousands of years. Breathing exercises, performed regularly, have been proven to improve your immune system, lower your heart rate if elevated, and of course, boost your lung functioning. It is especially important to take good care of your lungs and your heart during the ongoing global pandemic.
Get regular massages.
If you can afford it, it can be life changing to receive a massage from a professional when you are trying to combat the effects of chronic stress. It is well worth the investment, because no amount of money can equal the value of a healthy nervous system. Massage helps restore balance in our bodies, minds, and emotions, and has been proven to help people return to a “rest & digest” state which allows stress to be managed more easily.
Focus on your nutrition.
When you are stressed out, it’s common to crave comfort foods–and very easy to give into these cravings. However, your body needs a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and other whole (not processed) foods, in order to get all of the vitamins and minerals that you need to feel your best.
Volunteer for something you care about.
Putting energy into a cause that you’re passionate about can help you generate feelings of positivity that can drastically reduce your stress levels by helping you focus on creating something good outside of yourself and your own concerns. Sometimes getting your mind off your problems in your own life by helping someone else, or even just helping out at a fun event, can help you manage your stress in the long run.
If you are having a hard time reducing stress, you can contact Chenal Family Therapy for help.