How to cope with stress and relax
Ongoing or sudden stress can put the body into a heightened state that is not good for health. It activates the nervous system and increases the levels of cortisone and adrenaline in the bloodstream. These two elevated hormones can increase blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar. Over a long period of time, this can start to take a toll on the body. Hence, it is essential not to ignore feelings of stress but rather to understand what is happening in the body and learn simple coping mechanisms to help alleviate the negative impacts of stressors.
1. Reassess your work and life balance
Think about how much time you are spending working and how much time you have to do the other things you enjoy. If you find you are sitting behind your computer too much, intentionally put more dates in your calendar for things you enjoy doing. It is important to set aside time for your hobbies, even if it's only 15 - 20 minutes. Try to do something each day that helps to relieve stress and makes you feel good. Some examples of these hobbies could be reading, baking, walking, painting or playing sports.
Regularly moving your body is good for the nervous system and increases blood flow throughout the body, helping to flush out stress hormones. It is also an excellent way to relax your body and your mind. Try to find a form of movement that you enjoy so that you can do it more frequently. Remember that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like walking or swimming, most days of the week, is a good goal to aim for.
3. Eat well
Well-nourished bodies may cope better with the effects of stress. Eating well helps the body to manage the physiological changes caused by stress and provides energy to deal with stressful events. Try starting the day with a good breakfast and include fruit, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains in your diet. Try not to skip meals as this can affect your mood and add to your stress. It is also beneficial to avoid processed foods and sugar.
4. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep means that your body may not be able to tolerate stress as well as it could. Having a regular sleep routine restores and calms the body. It also improves your concentration, mood and decision-making skills, which allow you to better cope with stressful situations.
5. Eliminate your triggers
Try to figure out what the biggest cause of stress in your life is. It may be helpful to keep a stress journal for this. Make a note when you start to feel anxious or stressed so you can keep track of the patterns and the triggers. You can then find ways to lessen or remove these triggers.
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