We all get stressed. Sometimes it’s a good thing – helping you focus and motivate yourself to get things done – sometimes it’s a warning that something isn’t right and puts your body on alert for danger – yet other times, it’s a bad thing that can lead to anxiety, high blood pressure and heart conditions. The key is telling the three scenarios apart and managing any and all stress that comes your way.
Although it might not seem like it, there is a significant difference between good and bad stress. The stress portion remains the same, the difference lies in the body’s response. You see, stress releases cortisol into the blood which gives you more energy and strength, and this helps people get away from dangerous situations, or in small, infrequent doses, motivates and helps one focus to get a job done. However, when stress occurs in response to something emotional and you don’t have an outlet for this extra energy and strength, that is when stress can negatively impact your health. The good news is that there are simple and effective techniques to de-stress almost instantaneously.
Here are 5 ways to keep your stress in check.
1. Get Moving. The best way to de-stress is to put that extra energy to use. Get outside and go for a walk. Any walk will do but surrounding yourself with a greenspace, trees or walking by the water will offer even greater stress relief. This is because of a phenomenon called “involuntary attention” which holds our attention to our surroundings while simultaneously allowing for reflection. This brings you into a sort of meditative state. If you feel like a walk won’t cut it, take your stress to the gym, a soccer field or any other place or activity that will burn off steam. Just 20 minutes of physical activity can elevate your mood for 12 hours.
2. Just Breathe. If you can’t get away from your desk or need to face a stressful situation right then and there, deep breathing is the way to go. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold for 7 and breathe out for 8. Try to let go of all thoughts and concentrate solely on the breathing exercise. If you have more time, say 10 minutes or so, there are a number of breathing techniques that are shown to reduce stress that can be found with a simple internet search.
3. Surround Yourself with Plants. Indoor plants do so much more than clean the air or add beauty to a space. Studies have found that plants kept in homes and offices can help lower stress, increase productivity and brighten moods leading to a more positive attitude.
4. Turn Up The Music. Music, particularly classical music, has a soothing effect on the mind and body; slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure and decreasing stress hormones. If classical musical isn’t your thing, any type of music that you enjoy will release dopamine and help lower stress and anxiety levels.
5. Laugh It Off. Want to relax your whole body? A good, hearty laugh can relieve physical tension and stress. This is because it increases your intake of oxygen which in turn stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, as well as releases endorphins. After a stressful day, enjoy some funny viral videos, watch your favourite comedy, or get together with good friends who are sure to get the laughs flowing.