Stress and anxiety are increasingly common complaints affecting mental health of much of the population. Infact as many as 3/4 of adults in the US say they feel stress or anxiety on a daily basis.
The effects of stress and anxiety on our bodies are now thought to be the cause of many modern ailments. From insomnia, fatigue and migraines to more serious chronic diseases – stress may actually be the root cause.
Common Symptoms Of Stress
Being able to recognise symptoms of stress can help you manage and reduce its effect. If left unchecked stress can contribute to more serious health problems.
Some of the Common effects of stress on the body include:
- Muscle tension or pain
- Reduced sex drive
- Stomach upset
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritability or anger
Here are 14 effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety
1. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is one of the key remedies to counter the effects of stress, by helping reduce cortisol – a stress hormone in the body. Exercise also helps release endorphins which improve your mood.
2. Adjust your Diet
Eating more Omega-3 fatty acids found in olive oil, oily fish and nuts – has been found both to reduce stress in studies and also improve the make up of your gut bacteria – which is linked to depression, anxiety and mental health together with many other chronic illnesses.
3. Have a cup of tea
Green teas contain polyphenol antioxidants, which are thought to help reduce stress and anxiety by increasing serotonin levels.
4. Cut down on coffee
If you find you are drinking many cups a day and getting jittery you may need to reduce your intake. While coffee is thought to be healthy in moderation – high levels of caffeine can aggravate stress and sleep disorders
5. Keep a diary
A Great way to reduce stress is to express your thoughts and feelings on paper. At the end of each day write down accomplishments and highlights of the day – helping you focus on positive aspect.
6. Have a laugh
The age old saying, laughter is the best medicine has much to support it – laughter has been found to be a great stress reliever. Find time to enjoy comedy shows or stand up, joke with colleagues and friends.
7. Listen to music
Music has been shown to aid relaxation, reducing blood pressure and stress hormones. However choose carefully, not all music will be effective. Try to find soothing or uplifting music that appeals to you or reminds you of fun memories. I personally opt for The Beatles when I need something uplifting – or some soothing Jazz when I want to calm down.
8. Lose yourself in a good book
A good story is a great way to forget about the events of the day and find inner calm before bed. Reading can even relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles. One study at the University of Sussex, UK found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%.
9. Have a cuddle
From Sex to simple Hugs – all these activities increases levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin, which helps reduce stress levels, improve heart health, amongst other factors. Lost your libido then find a friend, loved one, or a pet to cuddle; research suggests the most beneficial hugs are with someone you trust.
10. Have a massage
One recent study found that massage therapy can improve mood, sleep quality and aid muscle relaxation. In a separate study researchers found that after receiving massages, the levels of the stress hormone cortisol were reduced.
11. Hang out with your pet
People with pets have been found to live longer, suffer less stress and enjoy better health. There are a number of theories and explanations as to why this is – including the benefits of companionship, regular exercise and social interaction.
12. Learn to say no
Last but by no means least – you need to learn to say no. Address the root cause of your stress. Whether from the workplace, home life or financial problems – you need to confront the cause and prevent unmanageable pressures piling up further.
13.Practice deep breathing
Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system – often referred to as your ‘Croc brain’, which instigates your “fight-or-flight” mode – releasing stress hormones and causing your heart to beat more quickly. Deep breathing helps to limit this – and slow down your heart rate – reducing the effect of stress.
Meditation has been found to reduce stress and improve overall health. This simple technique practiced for as little as 10 minutes per day can help you control stress, reduce anxiety, improve your heart health, and allow you to relax more and sleep better.