Stress is something that everyone has experienced at some point in his or her life. Whether it is school, work, or a major life event, stressful situations can cause both our mental and physical health to suffer. Anxiety, depression, even cardiovascular disorders and infectious diseases, can be caused or intensified by stress. In 2011, the American Psychological Association reported that 22% of Americans experienced extreme stress. But there are things you can do to reduce stress and, in turn, live a happier life.
What to Eat
Food can help stress both by comforting us and elevating chemicals in our brains. The following foods have been proven to reduce current and combat future stress.
Serotonin, the chemical in your brain that makes you happy, is increased after eating any type of carb. However, consuming complex carbs, such as whole grain breads or oatmeal, causes this release to be slower and longer. Simple carbs, like candy and sodas, can be consumed in moderation to help deal with stress. But, they are digested quickly, causing an immediate rush of serotonin to the brain, so they are not as effective in the long run.
Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in salmon or tuna, lower surges in stress hormones in the body, preventing stress from happening in the first place. Make an effort to eat at least 3 ounces twice a week to reap the full benefits.
One stress-related benefit of drinking this beverage is the faster stress recovery time. According to a study, people who drank 4 cups of black tea daily stated that after experiencing stressful situations, they felt calmer and showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who drank another beverage.
Healthy fats are evident in many nuts and seeds, including pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. This can help lower cholesterol and ease inflammation, which, in turn, reduces stress levels. Almonds are filled with Vitamin E and B, which strengthen the immune system and increase your resilience during stress.
Calcium has been proven to ease anxiety and reduce mood swings. Drinking milk before bed, in particular, can help calm you and make you sleep better.
What to Do
Apart from food, certain activities and habits can be used to help calm the mind and release tension from the body. This wide array of activities can work wonders.
An enhancement in oxygen circulation and release of endorphins are two of the stress-reducing benefits of staying active. Running, dancing, riding a bike, or even walking can significantly reduce stress and heighten your mood. Aim for 30 minutes of activity at least 3 to 4 times a week.
This ancient form of exercise is not just good for your body, but helps you to keep your mind quiet through disciplined breathing and meditation. Also, spinal twisting relieves tension and can help sleep.
Mindful breathing and thinking can help to calm and dispel stress and worry from your mind. Meditation has also been proven to reorganize brain patterns, increase heart rate consistency, and reduce blood pressure.
Listening to songs that speak to your soul and increase happiness can destroy stress and heighten your mood. It can take away your focus on the stressful things in your life and has also been linked to heart rate consistency improvement. From classical to rock, find your sound and listen to it consistently.
A Warm Bath
Soaking in warm water at the end of the day helps to relieve tension and relax blood vessels. Adding a little lavender oil into the water is a form of aromatherapy that can calm your mind and help you to fall and stay asleep better. Add in some candles and calming music, and you’re on your way to complete relaxation.