Remember those sleepless nights after a bad day at work or after an altercation with your partner? Really, it wasn’t your boss, annoying co-workers or your spouse who caused this; it was a popular enemy of most, known as stress.
It comes in a variety of shapes and forms, and can sometimes be mistaken for other common ailments, which makes it a worse enemy than many other illnesses.
Stress manifests itself in a multitude of ways on your body, mood, and behaviour. Starting with frequent headaches, sleep disorders, reduced libido to constant restlessness, social withdrawal, and changed eating habits etc. to serious diseases, including blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease – stress can cause them all!
Good news is, this enemy can be defeated by making few adjustments to your lifestyle and food habits.
Here are a few smart tips that can help in reducing your stress levels so that you can go back to your happy self –
1. Workout beats stress hands-down
Exercise is great for building muscles, body toning, and reducing weight and all but did you know that it is extremely effective in bringing down the stress levels. If performed regularly, exercise lowers down the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. And it helps in increased release of endorphins, chemicals responsible for a better mood.
In addition, it improves your sleep quality, which again keeps your stress levels in check. And with regular workouts, you are naturally more confident, physically fit and competent, which means you’ll defend yourselves against stress in a much better way.
2. Laughter is the best medicine
Finding it difficult to laugh? Try clicking selfies and a smile will naturally adorn your lips. A good dose of laughter improves your stress response, makes you calmer and relieves muscular tension.
And fortunately, a person with a positive mindset can find humour in small things. Whether the humour comes to you by watching a stand-up comedy show, a funny movie or in the company of good friends, choose your way to find humour and it will certainly bring down the stress levels.
3. Coffee, tea and sodas aren’t your friends in stress
Just like good friends, your favourite drinks such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, and your favourite soda accompany you during your good and bad times. While they help in lifting the mood, their intake in excessive quantities can cause anxiety, sleep disorders and thus, worsen the effects of stress on your health. You should be careful and consume these drinks in moderate quantities only.
Bonus Tip – Stay away from drinking coffee, tea or energy drinks during the late evening hours or right before you hit the bed.
4. Smoking – You already know it’s carcinogenic
Nicotine consumption in any form, whether it’s smoking, chewable tobacco, or nicotine gums, is harmful to your overall well-being. While its ill effects on your health are already well-known, it is especially not favourable for anxiety, restlessness or any stress symptoms. Of course, it is best to quit tobacco consumption altogether. However, given that it is a challenging goal for many, reducing the daily intake of nicotine can go a long way in improving your stress levels, to start with.
5. Learn to say, No
A common situation that causes stress is feeling compelled to do something you’re not willing to do or you know you can’t handle. Most such situations can be avoided if you start saying no to things that can leave you overwhelmed.
In a few cases, it might not be practical. In most cases it is indeed possible to say no. Once you start saying no, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how the people around you will appreciate you for letting them know your limitations.
6. Pursue your hobbies, follow your passion
While cutting down on things/activities that drain your energy is a definitive stress-buster, focusing on what energizes you sends pleasant signals to your brain that keep the stress at bay.
Few such energizing activities may come straight from your hobbies or things you always wanted to do but could not, such as maturing a talent you had as a child. Whether it is a form of art, such as singing, playing an instrument, dancing, learning a language, or anything else, it’s never too late to begin following it all over again.
7. Massage your way into relaxation
Physiologically, stress has its roots in muscular and nervous tensions. That is why any activity that helps relieve the tension of your muscles and nerves will help you de-stress. Such as a relaxing massage.
A massage yields multiple benefits, such as lifting your mood, nourishing your skin, relieving your muscle strain, reducing muscular pains and body aches and best of all, curing your stress
Just choose a good massage oil, such as virgin coconut oil and find someone who could give you a massage, a professional or a family member, and you’re good to go. Even if you don’t have someone to give you an extensive massage, you can just use your own palms to massage your head for instant relief from stress.
In addition to the above tips, you should identify what makes you happy and include such things and activities into your lifestyle. It could be spending time with your friends and family, a change to your home décor, change in your job or just a few habits. Everything that makes you happy or sad has an association with your stress levels and thus, your overall well-being.
Just take charge and bid goodbye to the enemy called stress!