Ah, stress – it’s a fact of life. Stress comes from many places in many forms: work, school, family obligations, standards we set for ourselves, and just about every aspect of life. Even planning a vacation causes stress.
Unfortunately, too much stress within our brains and bodies causes many negative physical and emotional side effects. That’s why it’s important to figure out healthy ways to reduce stress.
Negative Effects of Stress
Stress manifests throughout our bodies in many ways. When you’re feeling anxious, what’s the first thing that happens? You may not notice it, but your body slowly (or suddenly) changes as you adapt to stress. For many people, their shoulders start to rise towards their ears and their muscles become tense. That’s right: stress can produce negative physical symptoms. This is why it’s so important to figure out how to relieve stress.
Stress-induced hormonal changes also take place throughout our bodies. This is especially damaging when exposed to long-term high-stress environments. When we’re exposed to stress, our bodies produce cortisol. Too much cortisol can wreak havoc on your adrenal system and physical health in many ways.
- Hair loss
- Stomach ulcers
- Tense muscles and tight joints
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Depression and anxiety
- Sexual dysfunction
How to Relieve Stress for Free
Don’t worry, you don’t have to write a novel or even start a journal. Just start writing things down. It sounds silly and simple, but writing down tasks in front of you gets them out of your head and onto a piece of paper. It can be hard figuring out how to relieve stress, so start with writing things down.
If you feel some tasks seem just too big to handle, break them up into smaller tasks. Start with the easiest part of the job and schedule steps.
If you’re dealing with other emotional or family stress, write down what’s causing it or any immediate thoughts on your mind. From there, you can decide which areas you are able to change and which areas are out of your control. Sometimes, admitting we simply can’t control things takes a lot of weight off our shoulders.
Schedule Your Time
Schedule your time about one week out. Write down when you’ll wake up, how much time you’ll have before work, your work hours, after work plans, and bedtime. You’ll probably have a lot of time scheduled for work, but what about the gaps either before or after work? How are you spending your time?
If you don’t plan how you’ll spend your extra time, you’ll probably end up doing nothing or staring at social media. Can you squeeze in anything in your to-do list before you spend some time relaxing? How will you unwind? Consider scheduling a time for a bath, reading, or cooking a nice meal for yourself. Whatever that is, schedule what you both want and need to do for the day, and make enjoyable activities a priority as much as possible.
Physical Activity, Yoga, and Meditation
Okay, you don’t have to rush into all three, we don’t want you to overwhelm yourself. If you don’t do any of these ways to reduce stress, pick one and start from there.
Physical activity causes our bodies to release endorphins that better equip us to properly handle stress as it arrives. If you’re not ready to start a new workout routine, just start with some jumping jacks or push-ups to get your blood flowing and heart pumping.
According to the Harvard Medical Association, yoga and meditation are also proven ways to reduce stress. Mindfulness meditation and yoga help train our brains to distinguish between which problems we can control and which problems we can’t.
Music, Podcasts, or Pets
Listening to music can actually reduce cortisol levels and help our bodies better adapt to stress. Pick your music wisely. If you’re usually into fast-paced punk or rap, try toning it down a bit to create a more relaxing atmosphere with some instrumentals, jazz, or experimental tunes.
Feeling bored of your music library? Look for some new podcasts or audiobooks. Whatever your interests are, there’s a podcast for that. Seriously.
Spending time with pets is another great way to reduce stress, especially stress associated with your job. Plan time to spend with your pets. No T.V., no phone. Go for a long walk with the dog, chase the cat around the house, or reorganize the fish tank.
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Tags: fight stress, natural herbs for stress relief, stress-busting activities