Relieve Stress in your Mind & Body with these 5 Simple Steps
Stress is no joke. While a little bit of stress is fine when facing a big presentation, chronic stress is a major problem.
That’s because nature intended the stress hormone cortisol to be used in small doses – say, when you’re running away from an angry mastodon. But when it hangs around all the time, as it does for many people in modern society, the results are grim: heightened chances of obesity, heart disease, cancer, insomnia, chest pain, and other nasty outcomes.
Plus … it’s just plain unpleasant, isn’t it? If you want to stop stress in its tracks, though, you’re not powerless. By making a bit of effort every single day, you can bring stress down to manageable levels pretty quickly. Here’s how.
1. Meditate 5 Minutes a Day
Studies show a huge range of benefits stemming from meditation, including a reduction in the size of the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for fear and stress. Want to keep anxiety in its place? Meditate.
2. Move, Move, Move!
Exercising does more than make you sweat … although that’s nice too. It also produces endorphins, which are your body’s natural euphoria-inducers and painkillers. Even if you can’t get in a hard workout, try walking around the block a few times at lunch.
3. Listen to Music
Yep, it’s not just a feeling you get: Music really does chill you out. In fact, studies show that even when you listen to music and don’t feel more relaxed, tunes still help to moderate your cortisol levels beneath the surface.
4. Chill Out
And lastly, you need to decompress as often as possible. This can take many forms, from a hot bath to warm compresses to a foam roller to release tension in tired shoulders and backs. Other forms of recreation also help:reading, cooking, spending time with friends and family. Just avoid stress reducers that cause more stress in the long run, such as engaging in addictive behavior (more common than you think) or spending money you don’t have.
5. Reach Out
Humans need other humans to feel safe, secure, and happy – and to avoid feeling stressed out. Isolation, see, is highly nerve-wracking.
When you begin to feel anxious, reach out to the people in your life. Go for a walk with a spouse, talk to a friend on the phone, or get lunch with your mom. A simple break with a coworker may be enough to calm you down in moments of extreme stress.
Stress also affects your thyroid, and adrenal making it hard for you to lose weight, keep your metabolism up, sleep at night, feel fully rested or make the right dietary decisions. Unfortunately, slugging metabolisms, poor diets and too little sleep are all causes of stress – you can see the vicious cycle here.
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