Are you constantly stressed out? Chronic stress can be dangerous – it can wear out your mind and your body. In fact, stress is one of the leading causes of heart attacks, increasing the blood pressure and putting more strain on the heart.
Lots of things can trigger stress from work pressures to the trials of parenthood. Avoiding these triggers isn’t always possible, however there are many ways to relieve stress once it kicks in. Here are just a few scientifically backed stress-busters that will help to keep your body and mind healthy and happy.
Take a hot bath
There’s nothing quite as relaxing as taking a hot bath at the end of a hard day. Hot water is in fact a great way to cleanse our bodies of stress. The rush of warm water stimulates all of our nerve endings and sends a rush of feelgood endorphins through our body, which flush out the stress hormone cortisol. The water also helps to relax tensed muscles and lower blood pressure caused by stress.
A hot bath may not be something you can do spontaneously in the middle of a working day, but if it’s the evening after a day stress, it could be the perfect way of de-stressing yourself before bed. Stress after all can prevent us from getting sleep by keeping out mind alert – a hot bath could be perfect for relaxing your mind and helping you to get some shuteye.
Get a massage
Massages are also good stress-busters for a similar reason as hot baths. As well as actively helping to loosen up tensed muscles caused by stress, they release endorphins as a result of nerves being stimulated, which helps drive out the cortisol from our bodies.
Regular massages are great for combating every day stress, but you can also use more specialized massages for fighting more specifically triggered stress. Chronic pain can often contribute to chronic stress. Certain injuries involving muscles and tendons could require a professional massage from a chiropractor that could help physically alleviate the pain as well as the stress – you can learn more about chiropractic services here. Alternatively, there are more holistic styles of massage to consider. There are also treatments such as acupuncture and hydrotherapy that could be worth looking into.
Use some aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is all about using stimulating scents. Such scents can help to provide the endorphin rush needed to relieve stress. Feelgood scents include lavender, sandalwood and myrtle.
Unlike a bath or a massage, you can use scents at any point in the day to relieve stress. You can put scents all around your home using scented candles, oil diffusers or even plants that releases the aromas in their raw form. If you get stressed in your car, you could always find an air freshener that releases these scents. Meanwhile, in the workplace, you could consider carrying bring something to put on your desk, or if you don’t work behind a desk you could simply try washing your work clothes using a detergent that uses these scents.
Try to keep these scents natural as chemical smells may have the opposite effect. You can learn about these scents here.
Physical activity is also a great way of relieving stress. This is because stress itself is a survival mechanism – the cortisol that causes stress helps prepare our bodies for a fight or flight situation by making us more energized. Physical activity helps to release this energy as well as giving us the feelgood release of endorphins required to beat stress. Remaining inactive when stressed could be allowing the cortisol levels to build up and simply making it worse.
Whilst going on a run or using the weight down your local could be a good way of expensing the energy and fighting the stress, these aren’t the only ways of combating the cortisol. In fact, you can fit physically activity into any part of the day. If you’re at home and stressed with parenthood, going out for a walk with them or doing some housework could be all that’s needed. If you’re at work meanwhile, you could try finding a few spare minutes to walk up and down some stairs or even do some “deskercises.” There are five minute high-intensity workouts out there that can be slotted into almost any part of the day – don’t think that you don’t have the time to exercise.
Listen to music you love
That favorite song you love to listen to could be more than a quick source of entertainment – it could be an effective stress-buster. Just as baths and massages stimulate our sense of touch and sweet aromas stimulate our sense of smell to release endorphins, music stimulates out ears in such a way that we release feelgood hormones all around our body. This is particularly the case if you immerse yourself in the music with headphones or loud speakers, or indeed if you can perform the music yourself (karaoke was in fact developed as a way of beating stress!).
Cull your clutter
Too much clutter can also make our minds stressed as we have more to focus on at once. The act of de-cluttering could be a great way of also de-stressing. This could include anything from tidying your desk at work to de-cluttering your living room. Try to focus on getting rid of clutter in rooms that you often feel stressed in. For example, if you often get stressed whilst driving and you have lots of rubbish in your car, cleaning this area out could be a good solution. Clutter could also come in other non-physical forms – if you work on a computer with hundreds of tabs open at once and disorganized files, it could be worth investing time in some digital de-cluttering.
Speaking of computers, too much time staring at a screen could be stressing you out too. This includes TVs and phones too – the bright screens can cause eye strain over too long a period. Allow yourself time occasionally to disconnect from digital life. If you work behind a computer, try not to spend your lunch break staring at a phone. Disconnecting is especially important in the hour before going to sleep, as bright screens can often trick our brains into thinking that it’s still day time, preventing us from producing the sleep hormone, melatonin.
Get more sleep
Stress and lack of sleep can form a vicious cycle. When you’re stressed, your body and mind become more energiszd and more alert, so you may find it more difficult to go to sleep. However, a lack of sleep can then cause you to feel stressed as you’re more likely to make mistakes throughout the day or feel achy since your body hasn’t had time to heal.
There’s no quick fix to lack of sleep as many things can affect our ability to rest. You may want to consider what you can do before you go to sleep to relieve stress from the day. As stated earlier, a long hot bath could be a great stress-buster for the relaxing yourself for bed, but there could be other stress-busters listed above that you could also use before going to bed. Disconnecting from bright screens is vital. You could also try listening to calming music or lighting some scented candles. Exercise might not be the best thing to do just before going to bed, however exercise throughout the day could help you to feel more tired when the evening comes around.
You can also make improvements to your bedroom environment to help you sleep. Adding stress-busting scents to your bedroom could be one way to help you sleep as well as keeping it clutter-free. You may also want to consider upgrading your bedding so that it’s cozier or adding blackout curtains to stop the sunlight getting into your room. If you’ve tried all this and still have trouble sleeping, it could be worth seeing a sleep therapist.
Meditation can also help relieve stress. This is a way of simply refocusing your thoughts, taking your mind away from the stress triggers and considering the bigger picture. Many people find it easier to close their eyes whilst meditating to take away the distractions of their current situation. This is something that you can do whenever you have a quiet five minutes. You can also combine meditation with other stress-busters such as listening to music, taking a hot bath or exercising (the likes of yoga and Pilates combine exercise and meditation).