Stress is natural, and can actually be beneficial providing alertness in intense or dangerous situations. However, prolonged and chronic stress can cause negative effects on your health like anxiety, fatigue, headaches and depression. When dealing with stress it’s important to identify any causes that can be eliminated. If the stress is due to uncertainty there are ways to manage it.
Exercise. Physical activities such as jogging or cycling that increase heart rate, release endorphins. Endorphins are hormones naturally produced in the brain that alleviate pain and reduce stress. Exercising also decreases other hormones which cause stress, like cortisol and adrenaline. Find an exercise that naturally interests you, so it doesn’t feel like a chore.
Relaxation Techniques. In a state of stress, people tend to restrict their breath since their heart is racing. Breathing techniques can help slow down heart rate. Try inhaling 4 seconds, holding for 7 seconds and exhaling for 8 seconds. Other meditation techniques, like yoga, aid to lower cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone.
Sleep. Functioning with a lack of proper rest makes it harder to function. The stress hormone, cortisol stimulates your body making it more alert and more difficult to fall asleep. Getting a sleep schedule in order improves your circadian rhythm, the body’s “internal clock”. This will put your body in sync to fall asleep easier at a usual time. Establish your sleep routine and avoid any distractions such as phones. These devices make it harder to fall asleep. You can also try a bedtime ritual like reading a book or enjoying a warm bath before bed to calm your body.
Diet. Key nutrients and proper nutrition can also reduce stress. Look for foods with Vitamin C to lower blood pressure. Some examples are broccoli or cauliflower. Foods with complex carbohydrates increase the production of serotonin to elevate your mood and happiness. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables all contain complex carbohydrates. Magnesium also helps to alleviate headaches and fatigue. Some foods containing magnesium are spinach, salmon and soybeans.
When trying out any of these techniques it’s important to understand what works best for you. Everyone manages stress differently. Finding what works for you is a process of trial and error.