13 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress
My jaws were tight. My teeth were hurting from having them clenched. My head was throbbing and I was emotionally miserable. Yes, I became another victim of stress.
Stress is lurking around every corner, waiting to pounce on everyone, regardless of age or social economic status. It's a bad enemy that follows you everywhere you go. Stress doesn't let you concentrate, sleep or enjoy life. Stress is bad.
Stress and some of its friends
The worst part about stress is that it doesn't attack by itself. Once you have had stress for a long enough period of time, it can start to have horrible effects in your body. Did you know that stress can cause the following health problems?:
- Cardiovascular problems - palpitations, chest pain, hypertension, angina, heart attacks, strokes.
- Skin problems - Acne, rosacea, excessive sweating, excessively dry skin, urticaria, eczema, psoriasis, herpes, hair loss, development or worsening of skin allergies.
- Menstrual disorders - amenorrhea, infertility, irregular periods, breast problems.
- Digestive problems - irritable colon, gastritis, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, abdominal pain, gases, ulcers, dry mouth.
- Sexual disorders - stress decreases libido
- Mental problems - Anxiety, depression, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, panick attacks, neurosis, forgetfulness,
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Now that we know the some of the many ways in which stress can hurt us, let's look at some ways in which we can relieve stress.
How to relieve stress
So now let's move on to what really brought you here. Let's look at some easy, simple ways that will help you reduce stress and feel better so that you are better prepared to face life.
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is the stress hormone. Your body releases this hormone every time it perceives danger. But high and chronic levels of cortisol leave you exhausted and stressed. The lower the cortisol levels, the more relaxed you will be.
Turn off all cell phones and computers
Sometimes keeping in touch is precisely what is keeping you tense and stressed. The sound of your phone may elicit a stressful response because you know that someone on the other side of the line is requesting your time and attention, or because you know your boss is calling to check on that dreaded project.
You could also get stressed out by checking facebook. You see all your friends looking happy and maybe you feel they are doing better than you are. This can lead to even more stress. So do yourself a favor and turn off all cellphones, computers, iPads, etc...you get the point.
Signs that your cortisol levels are high
- Lack or increased appetite
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Frequent urination
- Constant tiredness
- Muscular pains or cramps
- Constant irritability
- Urge to cry
- Feelings of anger
- Lack of sense of humor
Drink black tea
This drink is not only delicious but it can actually help you fight off the stress hormone known as cortisol. Studies have shown that drinking black tea after an stressful task can help you reduce cortisol levels by 47%.
I know you've heard this a million times, but you gotta get enough sleep! Sleeping less than 8 hrs per night can increase cortisol levels by more than 50%, leaving you feeling more stressed out and exhausted.
If you're are feeling super stressed, a nap can also help you reduce cortisol levels.
Listening to relaxing music calms the brain and can help you de-stress. Keep in mind that the music has to be relaxing. Don't choose anything that can make you feel more stressed or even angrier. Try to stay away from songs with angry lyrics and heavy beats.
Divide big tasks into smaller ones
Sometimes just thinking about what we have to do makes us feel stressed, especially if it's something big. If that's the case, divide the big activity into smaller ones.
For example, instead of thinking: "I have to clean the house", think: "I have to clean the bathroom (or living room or kitchen)."
Dividing big tasks into small chunks will make you feel more in control of the situation and will help you reduce stress levels.
Chewing gum helps reduce tension and also reduces salivary cortisol by 12%. Reducing stress has never been so delicious!
Basil is not only good for cooking, it is also good for keeping your brain calmed and relaxed.
Recent studies have shown that basil is rich in calming substances that relax your nervous system and make you feel calmer.
To reap all the benefits this herb has to offer drink basil tea twice a day or chew the raw leaves if you don't like tea. (They're really minty!!)
Another great herb to help you reduce stress levels is salvia. This might be a less common plant than basil, but it's also very minty and relatively easy to find.
Drink 2 cups of salvia tea daily and let the pressure slide right off your back.
Write (or type) your stress away
Sometimes we just need to vent, and the best way to do it without offending anyone is to do it in writing. Write down everything you are feeling, the reasons you are feeling stressed out, and everything else that comes to mind.
Write without thinking. Let your brain and hand communicate without you interfering as a filter. You might be surprised to find out what is really troubling you, and you will surely feel relieved at the end.
If you don't anyone to find out what you just read, shred the paper or burn it. Repeat the process every time you feel like you are about to explode.
Learn to say "no"
If we keep saying yes to everything that comes our way, we are going to end up feeling overloaded and very, very unhappy. Don't feel guilty when you say no. Remember that we all have our limits. We are not super heroes and as much as we would like to take the weight of the world on our shoulders, we simply can't do it.
Laughing is one of the best remedies for feeling well. Read or watch something funny. Let yourself laugh at anything and don't be intimidated by what others might think.
If you're not feeling in a laughing mood, just make yourself smile. Your brain will detect the smile and think that you are actually feeling happy, and it will follow.
Eat spicy food
Spicy foods help your brain release endorphins (feel-good hormones) that make you feel happy. Your brain gets a rush of endorphins from eating spicy foods and you will forget all about your stresses for a while.
As the spice quiets down on your mouth, you will feel a sense of relief that feels amazing.
Try Mexican, Indian or Thai cuisine. You will not regret it! (Maybe you'll regret it a little when you go to the bathroom.)
This is one of the best (and most hated ways) to reduce stress. Exercise reduces tension and loosens the muscles, in addition to releasing feel-good hormones all over your brain.
You don't have to go out and run a marathon. Simply going out for a walk can help you release stress and see your problems from a different perspective. If you can't go out for a walk, do some stretches at home or some light cardio activity. Concentrate on the exercise and let the stress melt away.
You only have one body, so take care of it. Don't let stress ruin it by making you worry about unnecessary things. Learn to relax and to take life as it comes. Happy living!