Stress is everybody’s business. We’ve all experienced it. (Even if you’re some weirdo who never has, you will at least know someone close to you who has and that may have even impacted on you indirectly).
You might think you have it under control, but the truth is that stress is a sneaky little bugger that has a way of creeping up on you without you knowing until you physically feel it.
We live in a hectic world, one where our stress hormone, cortisol, often works overtime. However, that poor little hormone was never meant to act that way! The body’s stress reaction was supposed to be called into play when your survival was threatened, not when you were 5 minutes late for work! Let’s give poor old cortisol a break and try to deal with stress in a different way eh??
Consider trying the following natural ways to reduce stress:
Exercise has massive benefits on physical health, but can also help regulate your emotional wellbeing, and naturally reduce the negative results of a stressful lifestyle. Here’s the science bit…..exercise elevates levels of beneficial brain chemicals, known as endorphins, which elevate mood, promote relaxation and counter stress. On top of that, exercise also increases testosterone levels, which shares an inverse relationship with cortisol (as one goes up, the other goes down).
To get the best results, you should exercise a minimum of three times a week, making sure to include weight-bearing exercises as well as cardio.
Eat dark chocolate
Woo hoo! Any excuse! Eating any chocolate makes you feel better, right? However, we’re not looking at milk chocolate varieties, which are loaded with sugar and not much else (sad times), but rich dark chocolate, which contains a compound known as epicatechin (good times – except for me who doesn’t like dark chocolate).
This compound is in demand because it has loads of beneficial effects on improving heart health, brain function and more, but also the ability to reduce the effects of stress, and perceived stress. What’s perceived stress I hear you say? Perceived stress is defined as a relative level of stress since what affects one person may not affect another. Makes sense, right? When your friend is stressing because she got a spot on her forehead before a big event, you’re over here thinking, fuck that, I’ve only got £6.42 in the bank until payday! Improving your threshold that causes negative effects is mega important because it can help you to stop stressing, particularly about things you can’t control.
Try a massage
Why is it that we often opt for massages when we feel stressed? Durr, because it works! Stress is much more than psychological, its effects manifest through your whole body; muscular pain, tension, inability to sleep and much, much more. These are often the first signs that alert us to the fact that we’re stressed and in reality, they are ones that come further down the line when the stress is getting out of hand.
A massage can help address some of the manifestations of stress, such as pain and tension which we often hold in our neck and shoulders. And our face. Wrinkles anyone??
Everyone should meditate. Fact. There is likely no other technique that has a more profound effect on many aspects of human health as meditation, yet so many people don’t do it or dismiss it as hippy mumbo jumbo.
Meditation doesn’t need to be a complex science, but at its core, it involves focusing the mind on absolutely nothing beyond the immediate present. It’s a welcome break from whatever is going on in your head and your life at that time. A totally natural way to reduce stress!
Laugh and have a good time
The number one enemy of stress is fun. Laughter is the best medicine and all that. It’s been proven that laughter can reduce blood pressure, mediate pain responses, and help manage the negative effects of cortisol. Stressed people rarely take time out to smile and have fun, which only sends you into a downward spiral of more stress. Make time for memories, have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. (Although I do draw the line at Laughter Yoga, I’m too self-conscious, but you go girl!)
What strategies do you have for managing your stress? Share them in the comments and let’s inspire each other with some new things to try
Go for a walk, short or longer. Preferably in a green place, County or city. Forget why you are going for the walk and actually LOOK at what is around you. For example, up at the sky, clouds can be mesmerising. Trees, the way they look & move in a wind. Also, listen to what’s around you. Birdsong, the sound of wind in trees, moving water, your own footfall on the ground, etc. Feel the elements, wind, sunshine, even rain or snow. Be aware of taking large breaths if you are in a clean air place. Focusing on these simple, natural, FREE things help you forget the reason you NEED the walk in the first place, and WILL make you feel physically, mentally better. AND, happier !!! 🙂
LOVE THIS!!! That’s exactly what it’s all about! 🙂