Stress, either real or perceived, is the biggest threat to our health and well-being. A rapid heart rate, a racing mind, and tense muscles are all natural and normal responses to real life threatening situations. During periods of extreme stress the body releases “fight or flight” hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, to give us the best chance of survival. But, those types of life or death situations are rare these days, since most of us are not fighting off predators daily, yet instead we live under a constant low-level stress caused by day to day life. This chronic stress increases cortisol levels, leading to weight gain, systemic inflammation, and increases our risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Most of us are not doing enough to manage our stress and when it is left unchecked, it can have serious consequences for our health. Therefore, it’s important to implement some stress relief tools to help manage the effect of stress, here are 5 suggestions to help you naturally manage the demands of daily life:
Include relaxation in your daily routine. Adding relaxation to an already super busy to-do list can seem counter-intuitive, but life was meant to be enjoyed. Make a list of activities you love and try to make time for at least one every day, such as reading a book or working on a creative project.
Focus on what is truly important. Most of us overestimate what we can accomplish in one day and feel disappointed when we fall short. Why not just choose 1 or 2 tasks to focus on and give each task 100% focus? Break your day up into short bursts of productivity that you can accomplish in 5 minute increments. During those 5 minutes focus on that one small task at a time instead of multi-tasking, which can increase our stress levels and make us less productive overall.
Try meditation. Meditation may sometimes seem daunting if you think you need to spend an hour in a lotus position with a blank mind, but it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Even 5 minutes of silence can help calm an anxious mind. Or try a guided meditation, where someone walks you through the process, if you can’t do it on your own. Meditation has consistently been shown to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety. A 2011 study found that regular meditation actually increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in emotional control and the ability to put bad situations into perspective.
Consider increasing your intake of calcium and magnesium. Both of these important minerals work to help muscles relax. Most adults are not consuming enough of either mineral, with adult men being the most deficient. A great source of both calcium and magnesium is green leafy vegetables, such as spinach. Calcium and Magnesium can also be found in our Stress Support supplement along with other stress-reducing vitamins and herbs.
Exercise daily. Regular exercise is hands down the easiest and most effective way to relieve stress. The benefits can be felt with after just a short 15-20 minute walk. If you have had a particularly difficult day, lace up those tennis shoes, put on your favorite music, and get outside for a walk.
Any balanced lifestyle should include some form of stress management. Make stress relief a priority and reap all the healthy benefits!
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