We are all too familiar with the harmful effects of stress on our body, skin and mental well-being. For many of us, stress is something we’ve learned to live with. But most of the time, this means that stress is getting the best of us and all we seem to be doing is the occasional damage control. The truth is that we must learn to manage our stress daily and seek ways to reduce it. Yes, we know it’s easier said than done. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 20 simple ways to help you ease the effects of stress. Your mind and body (and skin) will thank you!
- Slow down. Take a moment to decompress and organize your thoughts. Be in tune with your body and how and when it feels extra tense.
- Breathe. Whenever you feel anxious, take some time to just breathe for a few minutes. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This slows down your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. Studies also show that deep breathing lowers the level of cortisol in your body, reducing your anxiety.
- Don’t skimp on your skincare The key is to stay consistent even during the rough times. This is when your skin needs the most TLC from you. Stick to a daily morning and evening routine. Check out last week's blog for skincare tips to fight the effects of stress.
- Exercise. Get moving. A simple walk can often do wonders for your state of mind. Exercise is also a good way to channel your anxiety and reduce your stress levels. It also releases those feel-good endorphins.
- Eat a balanced diet. This applies always but it’s particularly important when you’re stressed. Avoid the temptation of mindless stress eating. Be purposeful with what you ingest.
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine (and nicotine for the smokers out there) are stimulants, so they’ll increase your anxiety levels if you’re stressed. Alcohol, although technically a depressant, can also act as a stimulant by releasing the feel-good dopamine in your brain. Sneaky! So, no matter how many times those songs tell you, the answer is unfortunately not at the bottom of a bottle :)
- Get enough sleep. Most people need at least 7-8 hours. Make sure you avoid work and technology right before bedtime. Take a warm bath, have some herbal tea and relax before you hit the sack. Napping is also a great way to recharge and lower your cortisol levels (remember how we hated naps as kids??)
- Meditate. Practicing some relaxation techniques for as little as 10 minutes a day can go a long way in reducing anxiety and regulating your emotions. If you’re new at this, there are some great apps that can guide you through it. Try Breethe or Headspace.
- Set boundaries. Reduce your workload, prioritize your to-do list and manage your time more effectively. Most often, stress is caused by having too much to do and too little time to do it in. This requires you to say ‘no’ more often and that’s perfectly ok! And yes, we also mean stop multitasking so much! Manage things one step at a time.
- Do the things you enjoy. Whether it’s binge watching your favorite show, reading a good book, going on a bike ride or heading to the movies, the point is to spend time doing the things that interest you and having some fun. Savor the simple pleasures in life!
- Socialize. Nothing spells stress relief as much as time spent with friends and family. Talk to them. There is comfort in discussing life pressures with the people who understand you and care for you the most.
- Cuddle. Yes! Cuddle, hug and kiss! This increases your levels of oxytocin and serotonin (think ‘happy’ chemicals) and reduces levels of cortisol.
- Laughter really is the best medicine. The act of laughing releases tension. Pull up your favorite comedy show and laugh it up!
- Listen to music. Music is an instant mood-lifter and stress reliever.
- Aromatherapy has been shown to have many benefits including stress relief. It can reduce cortisol levels and increase the perception of well-being.
- Pray. Many people turn to spirituality during times of anxiety or stress. And data from a growing number of studies backs up the fact that spirituality is a powerful stress reliever. It gives people a mechanism with which to cope with stress and anxiety better.
- Play with your pets. There is no greater therapy than cuddling and playing with a pet. Playing with your pet reduces stress levels. Studies also show that pets help reduce your blood pressure.
- Chew gum. Yes, you read right. Chewing gum actually relieves stress and increases blood flow to the brain! A study in Tokyo, Japan found that subjects who chewed gum twice a day for 14 days showed improved levels of anxiety, mood and fatigue.
- Practice self-care. Me time and self-care activities are so precious. Carve out some time every day to pamper yourself.
- Go outside. Get some fresh air. Get some sun. Connect with nature. It’s amazing how spending some time outdoors can quickly lift your spirits and reduce your anxiety.
I liked how you mentioned that it’s a good idea to practice relaxation techniques for 10 minutes a day. I have recently been trying different ways of stress management and meditation. I usually try guided meditation on youtube, but I am willing to try new things. Thanks for the useful tips! http://gutfeeling.com.au/mental-health/