Stress affects almost everyone at one time or another. Some stress is good, such as when our bodies pump up the hormones we need to get the extra boost of energy required to meet a deadline at work — or stop a child from falling down the stairs. But not all stress is good stress. Too much can be detrimental to our mental and physical health. So what can be done to stop stress from adversely affecting your life? Try these common and effective ways to help combat it.
Taking a few minutes to quiet your mind can be a a powerful way to beat stress. When negative thoughts and worries begin to clutter the mind, simple meditation exercises can banish them and help regain clarity. Meditation has been practised throughout history as an effective way to centre the mind and body.
The body needs an adequate amount of sleep to help cope with stress but often a stressed-out mind plays a factor in insomnia. Since the body needs time to repair and regenerate, a good night's sleep is a key stress reduction. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding stimulants a few hours before bed and knowing how much sleep is right for you are just some of the ways to ensure a proper night's sleep.
The benefits of exercise in managing stress are two-fold. First, exercise acts as a distraction. By engaging in a sport or work-out, the mind becomes more focused on that activity and less focused on the unhealthy thoughts that are stress-inducing. Second, exercise that gets the heart rate going will naturally increase the production of endorphins. Endorphins are those wonderful chemicals that make a person feel better. Take a walk, join a yoga class, head to the gym or do whatever else interests you — just be sure to include it as a regular part of your lifestyle.
While a balanced diet that's rich in vitamins and nutrients will promote a healthy body that is better able to handle stress, inadequate nutrition can play a role in fatigue, mood swings, poor concentration and reduced immunity. Keep your body and mind in stress-busting shape by following the recommendations outlined in "Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide," found on the Health Canada website, or by seeing your healthcare practitioner for other suggestions.
Cry it out
A good cry is an emotional release that can also be effective in removing harmful chemicals that are generated during stress, suggests the Tranquility Is Yours website. So go ahead, grab your tissues and let the waterworks begin.
The need for touch is ingrained in us. When we have a hug or a shoulder to lie on it helps us feel better and takes away our feelings of stress. Take this one step further, to sex, and you have a stress-relieving activity that you can share with your partner. There are many benefits to regular sex, but since it reduces tension and produces endorphins it's a natural way to combat stress.