Life can be stressful, and when that stress builds up, it can be damaging to your health. A little bit of stress isn’t an issue and is simply part of life, but if times are too tough and stress goes unchecked, bad things start to happen. Luckily, there are some relatively simple ways to reduce stress.
Whether it’s work, family, relationships, or any other number of potential areas of stress, the negative effects can stack up against you and cause numerous issues.
Negative Effects of Stress
- Disrupted sleep/insomnia
- Muscle tension
- Digestive issues
- Lack of focus/inability to concentrate
- Reduced sex drive
All these negative effects can be bad enough on their own, but when combined and/or lasting for prolonged periods, the effects can be detrimental. Unhealthy weight gain/loss can occur, blood pressure and heart health can be impacted negatively, drug or alcohol abuse can become a problem, and outbursts of anger can damage relationships. These are all obvious things you should do your best to avoid for your own good and for the well-being of those around you.
Simple Ways to Reduce Stress
- Listen to music – Calm, relaxing music can reduce stress and bring down your blood pressure as well as helping to reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
- Write it down – Putting your thoughts down on paper or typing them out on a computer or mobile device can have a therapeutic effect while allowing you to realize exactly what it is that’s causing your stress.
- Reduce caffeine intake – If you drink coffee regularly, simply stopping may not be in the cards, but even reducing your caffeine intake will bring down the level at which your nervous system is taxed, and that can help bring stress levels down. Plus, when stress is acute, the stimulant effects of caffeine can make you feel as though your stress is amplified. Junk food and sweets should be reduced, too.
- Laugh – Find a good sitcom, comedy movie, or stand-up comedy act to watch (or listen to). Laughing can alter your mood, reduce cortisol production, and simply make you feel happy. It’s hard to be stressed when you’re happy.
- Exercise – One of the best ways to relieve stress is through physical activity. Hormones are released, your mind is occupied, and it’s a great way to simply let it out. A short walk is fine, but anything from a mild trip around the block to yoga to a full-fledged high-intensity workout can do wonders for reducing your stress levels.
- Nap – Sure, you may have trouble sleeping at night if you’re overly stressed, but a midday recharge can be a huge help. If you can lay down somewhere quiet for a 20- to 30-minute power nap, great. If not, even sitting in a quiet car with your eyes closed for 10 minutes can be recharging and give you a chance to let some of the stress slip away.
- Breathe – This one’s helpful at any point during the day when you need to bring it down a notch, but particularly in those moments when the stress gets nearly unbearable. Simply pause, take 5-10 slow, deep breathes, and you should feel a noticeable decrease in stress as you oxygenate your blood and clear your mind a bit.
- Eat Well – Nutrition plays a vital role in hormone production, feelings of contentment, and feeding your body the nutrients it needs to fight off the effects of stress. Whole foods are always best, and when you’re in a rush, on the go, or just need a little snack or some extra nutrition, make sure to use plant-based protein like RawFusion or its nutrient-enhanced meal-replacement version, RawFusion Complete. The bars are also great when you’re on the go, and they fill you up enough to avoid any added stress from hunger pangs.
It’s not realistic to try to go through life avoiding stress, nor would that really be beneficial. Many good things come from normal amounts of stress, but when it becomes acute or chronic, stress can do much more harm than good. When it goes beyond just taking things in stride and you find the stress has become overwhelming, hopefully this list of simple ways to reduce stress can help you cope.