Running late. Paying bills. Moving. Caring for an elderly parent. These are all events that can cause stress. Some stress in life is normal and even beneficial, as it helps us adapt and better respond to difficult situations. But left unchecked, stress can cause many physical problems. The American Institute of Stress lists 50 common signs and symptoms of stress, ranging from headaches to heartburn to high blood pressure. Stress can affect pretty much every part of the body; fortunately, there are countless healthy ways to reduce stress!
Laughter – Laughter lowers cortisol, which is your body’s stress hormone. Whether it’s watching funny videos or having a conversation with someone who makes you laugh, get a good laugh in every day!
Music – It doesn’t matter if it’s calming nature sounds or your favorite rock album; listening to music can lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Sing out loud and dance for added benefits!
Walking – Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress. Yoga and walking are great for calming your mind, or some people prefer more high-intensity workouts like running or kickboxing. Find what works for you, and try to fit in 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Meditation/Breathing Exercises – This one can take a little practice, as it can be hard to slow your mind down during times of stress. Find a quiet, comfortable spot, then slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Let all thoughts, positive or negative, pass by while you focusing on breathing deeply.
Be Social –Talking to a friend or family member will not only help you feel supported and loved, you may also get new perspectives on your situation that you hadn’t thought of.
Remember that everyone experiences some level of stress. Try some of these techniques to see what works for you, and always make managing stress a priority in your life!