Whether it’s from work, school or just taking care of day-to-day responsibilities, stress has become a regular part of our everyday lives. However, you don’t have to resort to making unhealthy decisions, like alcohol or drug abuse, to find stress relief. And while medication can help, there are natural ways to combat stress. Taking advantage of the tips included in this article can help you navigate our mega-stressful world and greatly improve your quality of life. You’ll notice that these tips to combat stress are all easily within your reach, and that there is a strong connection between mental well-being and physical health, which is why it is important to find healthier methods of stress relief.
It simply cannot be denied; in terms of our physical and mental state, we are what we eat. While an unhealthy way to deal with stress would be to eat junk food, it only leads to temporary happiness. In fact, if you resort to eating junk food to find comfort from stress, you are only hurting yourself and will eventually find yourself consumed by stressful situations when your health starts to decline. Obesity, heart disease and diabetes – these are all health conditions that can result from a poor diet and can take a toll on both your physical and mental health.
To combat stress, lean towards healthy foods like salmon, tuna, green vegetables, fruits and grains. These foods contain Omega 3 fatty acids, the polyunsaturated fats that help the brain’s neurotransmitters function properly. Even a food you wouldn’t normally associate with good health, dark chocolate, when consumed in moderation (an ounce or so per day) can help lift your spirits to ward off stress. Dark chocolate can stimulate the same molecules in the brain that regulate our feelings of love. Having a healthful diet is a major contributor to happiness, and a major factor for fighting stress.
According to studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic, exercise is effective at fighting stress for both physical and psychological reasons. On the physical side, it stimulates production of endorphins (the feel good chemicals); on the psychological side, achieving exercise goals gives you a sense of accomplishment and increases self-esteem. It is also a great outlet for those times when you feel like you are about to explode because of the stress and burdens you are dealing with.
And, exercise does not have to entail pumping iron or running marathons. It can mean simple activities like riding a bicycle to work or even doing chores around the house. An active rather than a sedentary lifestyle can not only elevate your mood, it can lengthen your life. Live longer. Live happier. Exercise.
(If you want to know more about exercise and stress, read 10 Surprising Ways Exercise Relieves Stress.)
There are several types of meditation, including transcendental and mindful mediation, but one of the best definitions of meditation is contained, ironically, in the Web Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders:
“... focusing the mind upon a sound, phrase, prayer, object, visualized image, the breath, ritualized movements, or consciousness in order to increase awareness of the present moment, promote relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance personal or spiritual growth.”
While classes and books about the proper way to meditate abound, simply sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, and controlling your breathing for 15-30 minutes a day can do wonders to make you forget what ails you and redirect your mental energy toward the positive. And when you’re feeling positive, you aren’t feeling stressed out.
Like meditation, yoga’s popularity is growing in leaps and bounds. It raises energy levels, lowers stress and calms anxiety; three potential benefits that can do wonders for your health. In addition, yoga instruction is usually done in a group setting, so the social interaction itself can be helpful for alleviating tension and stress.
However, if you prefer the quiet and comfort of solitude, yoga can easily be performed as a solo activity. You can find numerous books, websites and media that provide tips and proper instruction for performing yoga, all of which can be used in the comforts of your home.
Yoga involves intense levels of concentration, and can also be intense from a physical perspective. But if properly practiced, it can also provide ample psychological benefits, one of which is a healthy and natural way to combat stress.
(To learn more about the benefits of yoga, see 10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Yoga.)
While these are effective and natural ways to combat stress, it is important to seek professional assistance and care if you suffer from severe bouts of stress. In some cases, a quick and simple remedy might not be enough to help a person deal with stress, especially if he or she is suffering from a condition that requires proper medication and clinical observation.