Published March 11, 2012
In modern society, stress has become as unavoidable as death and taxes.
While the term tends to carry negative connotations in today’s world, stress can be normal and even useful. It prompts your brain to take precautionary measures designed to help your body respond to challenging or threatening situations, usually described as a “fight or flight” reaction.
However, it is when stress remains at high levels for extended periods of time that the situation can become more problematic. Increased stress levels can strain your body and harm your health, leading to serious physical and emotional issues, including depression, insomnia, ulcers and heart disease.
Here are five simple measures to help avoid these complications and increase your overall quality of life:
Whether it’s walking or weightlifting, virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever. Exercising regularly can help improve sleep and relax your muscles. It also causes your body to generate extra endorphins – neurotransmitters which work to relax you and improve your overall mood. A brisk walk or swim can be a great way to gather your thoughts and temporarily remove yourself from the usual stresses of everyday life.
2. Eat healthier
By eating a balanced diet, you can ensure that your body is well-equipped to tackle life’s daily challenges. Make sure to begin each day with a sensible breakfast and eat small, balanced meals regularly. You could also try reducing your caffeine intake, as it tends to disrupt sleep and cause irritability, which can exacerbate stress responses.
3. Time management
Using your time efficiently will help relieve stress. If your workload is particularly heavy, set a daily schedule to remove some of the uncertainty from the coming day. Similarly, identifying specific stressors will allow you to anticipate and prepare for them. If possible, try leaving a few minutes earlier for your morning commute to avoid starting the day in a rush.
4. Personal time
For many people, the demands of a job extend well beyond the hours of 9 to 5. That’s why it’s important to designate a short period of time each day for personal relaxation. Turn off your phone, power down your computer and spend some time doing something you enjoy. Put your stress on hold and take respite while reading, exercising, meditating, getting a massage or taking a bath. If your daily stresses become overwhelming, you may even consider taking a short vacation.
5. Holistic remedies
Certain herbal remedies have been known to relieve tension and reduce stress and anxiety. Substituting green tea for your regular cup of coffee is a healthy way to improve sleep by reducing your caffeine intake. Chamomile and black tea are renowned for their calming properties, while ginseng and licorice root help normalize the body during times of stress.