We all face different challenges these days. Perhaps it's money troubles, an increase in drive time, or the burden of caring for a sick family member. Whatever the reason, there are times when we can feel overwhelmed and in a pressure cooker of uncertainty about how to meet all of the demands placed upon us. It is interesting to note that 75% to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. While chronic levels of stress or tension can play havoc on our health and reduce the body's ability to cope well under stressful situations, not all stress is considered bad. Sometimes, like jumping out of the way of a speeding car, our response to stress can be very helpful. That fight or flight burst of energizing hormones from the adrenals can come in handy as a life saver. Are you tired of being stressed out? If you answered yes, then read on for seven practical stress-busting tips to help keep your stress levels from getting the upper hand.
Natural Stress Busters
1. High Octane Fuel
Do you reach for a candy bar or a cup of java when your body sends out an SOS signal? If you do, then you may also want to know that while these foods can offer a quick energy boost, you may also be setting yourself up for a later energy crash that can further compound your body's physical stress. The idea of fueling your body with food can be compared to the fuel that you put into your car. If there isn't enough gas or the wrong type of octane, you may have trouble reaching your destination. Instead, try reaching for a satisfying slice of whole-grain bread and spread on some nut butter such as peanut butter or almond butter. Top it with banana slices or raisins. The general recommendation from health experts is to refuel the body every 3 to 4 hours in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and keep your stress levels in check.
2. A Good Night's Sleep
When your body is sleep deprived, it reduces your ability to concentrate and can negatively affect your memory and daily performance. These negative effects can add up quickly and become physical stressors. One of the best ways to help ensure that you rest well is to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. In addition, it's wise to avoid eating a big meal before bedtime to help ensure that most of the digestive work occurs before sleep. A good policy is to avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine-containing beverages close to bedtime because these beverages act as diuretics and are stimulating. Instead, you may want to try a relaxing activity such as taking a warm bath, reading, or listening to soft music before bed.
Certain dietary supplements can play an important role in promoting sleep. For example, L-theanine (an amino acid found in green tea) has been shown in human studies to promote a relaxed mental state and to increase the production of alpha waves in the brain. The result is that L-theanine helps to reduce anxiety and promotes a state of relaxation without drowsiness. ,
Vitamins B6 and B12 are needed for the production of serotonin - the feel good brain messenger, and the important mineral magnesium promotes healthy muscle relaxation. Herbs that can help with sleep include chamomile, which exerts a mild sedative-like effect, and lavender oil, which has relaxing properties and can be added to a bath, sachet or directly to the skin.
3. Deep Breath
Stress can also be a response to a fear such as public speaking. Oftentimes when one is afraid or believes that he or she is in danger, their breathing becomes shallow and rapid. When this happens, the diaphragm is not used properly and the breathing is solely from the chest and does not incorporate the abdomen. The result is less oxygen is available for the body - especially the brain for clear thinking - and levels of stress hormones go up. Instead, take a deep breath in to center and calm yourself and breathe out the stress.
4. Moving the Muscles
Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help you calm down. Regular moderate exercise helps promote a positive effect on both physical and mental well-being. The fact that exercise stimulates positive brain chemicals can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than before your workout. Another added benefit is that you will probably begin to look and feel better.
5. Reading a Great Book
For an instant de-stressor, pick up a book and let the world of literature take you away from the current situation for an adult time out. Just disengaging your mind from the stressor can give you a different perspective and clearer insight for resolution.
6. Mind Set
Just knowing that you do your best everyday at whatever you attempt can take the stress out of the outcome.
Try holding a big smile for 5 minutes and see what happens. You may find that it's hard to feel stressed while you are smiling.
Whether you choose to settle down with a good book or commit to some regular physical activity, select a couple of de-stressing strategies that resonate with you. Incorporating such strategies into healthy daily habits that can lend a hand to help you block and bridge over your next stressful challenge.