These are stressful times. That’s an understatement. But in the interest of bringing you useful information and tips in these trying times, how about a few methods to combat that stress? Here are some good old reliable ways to slash stress levels, minimize physical effects of stress, and feel better.
Sweat. There is nothing like moving and working up a good sweat, particularly for stress reduction. Exercise releases endorphins, those little feel-good hormones. When our endorphin levels increase, we feel fewer negative effects of stress. High-energy exercise (think running, HIIT workouts, kickboxing, etc.) is an excellent choice to pump up some perspiration and immediately knock out some stress.
Slower workouts will do the trick, too, and some may find the controlled, deep breathing of yoga extremely beneficial in approaching stress and feeling it evaporate. Mix it up and try out a few varieties of exercise. That stress won’t know what hit it! Make exercise a habit, and you’ll notice you sleep better, too.
Stretch. Stretching provides a world of benefits. Stretching increases blood flow, flexibility, and helps keep joints healthy, stimulating the production of synovial fluid (think of it as the grease for your joints). Stretching can help detoxify your body and prevent injury. Stretching is also an instant and lasting stress-buster—for best results, use daily!
Stress causes tension to build in our muscles. Stretching allows our muscles to literally let go of that tension. Gentle, consistent stretching can make a world of difference in how you feel. Don’t be surprised if you still feel tense as you begin to incorporate stretching into your daily routine. Give it some time, and you will notice you can get deeper into your stretches, as you become more flexible and relaxed. Over time, consistent stretching can result in improved sleep, too! Funny how sleep keeps coming up, hmm? No, not really.
Sleep. Stress is exhausting. You can stumble through it, sure, drink more caffeine, becoming more and more grumpy and less and less efficient, or you could cut yourself a break, to say nothing of those around you. Get some sleep. (If that’s hard for you, check out some tips on falling asleep a little faster.) How many times has your day ended and your outlook is bleak, but when you wake up things seem a little, or even a lot better? Sleep is a major restorative for our body. When we sleep our brains and bodies go to work! This is when our muscles recover from all the hard work they did all day long, repair themselves after a strenuous workout, and build more strength!
Your brain participates in this recovery, pumping growth hormones to aid in tissue repair and muscle development. As well, your neurons are recovering, so you’ll be alert when you awake. You’ll also be able to retain information much better when you get good sleep, and your creative muscles will be more limber, too! Our bodies are amazing, so we need to take care of them. Our bodies love sleep. Show your body some love and start getting more Z’s regularly.
Stress is ugly and destructive. It is also sneaky, and you may not realize how stressed you are until you start getting snappy for no reason, or weepy, or you feel absolutely drained at the end of the day. It’s a real obstacle to staying on task and staying positive when life gets rough. But like any other obstacle, we can beat it. Incorporating healthy habits will go a long way in combating stress, which in turn helps us be more productive and positive overall.
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