Monday, April 13, 2020

9 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress (April is National Stress Awareness Month)! #NationalStressAwarenessMonth

Photo Courtesy of our daughter, Rose

Stress is a common factor that most adults, and even children, face in their daily lives. Here are 9 easy ways for you to reduce that unwanted stress in your life.

Listen to Music
Listening to calm music, such as classical pieces, has a positive effect on the brain and body, can lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. However, there are times when rocking out to a good song or getting emotional over a love song can release some pent up stress as well!

Talk to someone
When you're feeling overwhelmed, take a break to call or meet with a friend or family member and talk about what is causing you stress. Good relationships with friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle and invaluable when you're under a lot of stress. Sometimes an outside opinion can put everything in perspective.

Eat Right
Stress levels and a proper diet are closely related. Unfortunately, when we are overwhelmed and really busy that we forget to eat healthy and resort to using sugary, fatty snack foods as a pick-me-up. Try to plan ahead if possible. Fruits and vegetables are always good, and fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress. I try and cut up fresh fruits or veggies the night before work so I have something to snack on when I am on the go or crunched for time and need to eat something fast.

Laugh. Yes Laugh!
Laughter releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease levels of the stress-causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Laughing tricks your nervous system into making you happy. I will step into my coworker’s office and help myself to one of her Laffy Taffy treats which always have quirky jokes on them for a quick laugh. At home, my husband and daughter tend to provide much needed comic relief!

Get Moving – Exercise
Exercise doesn't necessarily mean power lifting at the gym or training for a marathon. I take a short walk around my office or stand up to stretch during a break at work – it definitely provides an immediate relief when I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can improve your mood almost instantaneously.

Get More Sleep
Everyone who has felt overwhelmed or under stress knows it can cause you to lose sleep. Unfortunately this is a vicious circle because lack of sleep is also a key cause of stress and only gets worse with time. Make it a point to get seven to eight hours of sleep. Turn the TV, computer and devices off earlier, and do your best to get into bed for a good night’s sleep.

Take a Deep Breath
I am sure it seems cliché, but it holds true when it comes to stress. For centuries, Buddhist monks have been conscious of deliberate breathing during meditation. For an easy three- to five-minute exercise, sit up in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on top of your knees. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest. While shallow breathing causes stress, deep breathing oxygenates your blood, helps center your body, and clears your mind.

Know Your Limits
Between working full-time, blogging, spending time with my family, karate, working out and our countless other activities, I get overwhelmed a lot trying to find balance and accomplish everything I feel I need to. I have to remind myself that I am only one person and I have my limits of what I can accomplish each day. Learning to say no is an important part of reducing stress and will help me focus on what’s really important.

Find Time for You
Finding time for you is very important in helping reduce stress. We tend to get so busy in our day to day lives and tasks that we neglect to do something good for ourselves to recharge. Read a book or magazine, get crafty, watch a movie, listen to music, take a 20-minute power nap, get physical (walk, run, dance, yoga), get outside, or simply do nothing…the list is endless and can do wonders to improve our well-being.
April is National Stress Awareness Month. What do you do to help keep your stress level at a minimum?

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