Let’s face it; stress is everywhere, and not in a good way. We live in stressful times of the coronavirus pandemic, financial worries, and how to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
At the same time, the very nature of our modern lives makes it hard to slow down or opt-out. The result is that millions of Americans are suffering from symptoms and ill-health related to stress, including insomnia, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, headaches, heart disease, and high blood pressure to name a few.
Being under unrelenting stress feels bad, suppresses your immune system at a time that you need it to be strong, and affects the quality of your life.
Solutions to overwhelming stress are unique to each individual. In addition, finding time for stress-relief activities can be one more stressful thing to fit into an already busy day. That said, the payoffs of doing something, anything, are big in terms of better physical and mental health. Here are some suggestions on ways that you can manage your stress:
Begin your day by meditating. This can be as simple as consciously breathing for five minutes before you get out of bed. Just breathe normally and pay attention to each inhalation and exhalation. Equally as relaxing is resting in your favorite place, simply by filling in all the details of that particular spot. Be sure to engage your senses in your visualization; your brain doesn’t know the difference between your visualization and you actually being there.
Move your body. A little exercise releases feel-good and releases calming endorphins in your brain. Also, movement helps to relieve muscle tension and clear your mind.
Get a massage. Booking a massage is making an appointment for stress relief. The massage itself is relaxing and helps to relieve tight and achy muscles. It is a time that is completely focused on your well-being. And if you don’t want the close contact right now, get down on the floor and stretch your tight muscles. It will help loosen them up, relieve tension, and it flat out feels good.
Put your stress down on paper. Keeping a journal allows you to download all the thoughts and feelings that are stressing you. By writing these things down, you’re committing them to paper and allowing yourself to release them. Journaling is not judgmental. It is unfiltered and allows you some clarity on the issues that are bothering you. This often leads to solutions.
Step away from the stress. To avoid becoming completely burned out on stress, do what it takes to remove yourself from your stressful situation whenever possible. If you’re able, take a personal day or two to do something that you enjoy. Turn off all electronic gadgets for one day a week. All the emails, texts, and tweets will be there tomorrow. Set aside an hour or two as often as possible to sit quietly and read a book or listen to music.
Go outdoors. A number of research studies have documented that spending time in a natural setting can lower your stress, decrease your blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, and improve your immunity. Look for a wooded area or park nearby and spend some time soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors.
Get some acupuncture. Many people think acupuncture is only about treating pain. However, research has shown that acupuncture activates feel-good endorphins in your brain to bring a sense of calm and well-being for hours to days after treatment. Research has also found that acupuncture can boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. In addition, your acupuncturist can prescribe a herbal formula and/or dietary regimen that can help smooth your emotions and address any stress-related symptoms that you may be experiencing.
Stress-related health conditions have become an epidemic, but they don’t have to be. Acknowledging that your stress is impacting your health is a first step in reversing this pattern. The second step is making a plan and a commitment to dealing with that stress. You’ll feel better, your life will feel a little bit easier, and your body will thank you.