There is no doubt about it, life can be pretty stressful. With the recent outbreak of Covid-19, many people are feeling it a bit more than usual. So here are our top 5 stress relief tips.
Most people jump start their day with a cup of coffee or end it with a drink to unwind. And we have known for years that smoking is a way that many self medicate for stress. Unfortunately, these habits are hard on your body and can add to your stress level.
Avoiding, or at least reducing how much of these things you consume helps reduce stress. Caffeine and nicotine increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and internal body temperature. They also interfere with normal sleep patterns. And alcohol, especially in excess, slows everything down and interferes with sleep.
Opt instead for water, herbal teas, or diluted fruit juices. These will help keep you hydrated. Proper hydration enables your body to better cope with stress. Eating a healthy, well balanced diet will also help support a healthier stress response.
I know what you are thinking. Exercising stresses you out. Many people feel that way when beginning a new workout routine. But getting plenty of exercise actually helps you manage stress.
Stress causes the body to produce adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones play a very important role in our “fight or flight” response. Thankfully, not many of us are actually fighting for our lives on a regular basis. Unfortunately, your brain hasn’t caught on to that yet. It will keep making stress hormones even after the ‘threat’ has passed.
Regular exercise counteracts the effects of adrenaline and cortisol by releasing endorphins. Feeling stressed? Go for a quick walk or jog. You’ll be feeling better in no time.
Exercise also helps with general stress management. This is because endorphin levels remain high for hours after exercising. Endorphins and regular exercise will also improve the quality of your sleep.
Just be sure to seek physical rehabilitation therapy if you have any old injuries. Without proper care you risk reinjury and added stress.
Sleeplessness or poor sleep quality is a significant cause of stress. In a cruel twist of fate, stress also interferes with restful sleep. Sleep aids can help but its best to avoid these as they can be habit forming. Instead, take a look at your sleep hygiene.
Make sure your bedroom is a place where you feel relaxed and clam. It should be clean and free of reminders of things that stress you out. And remember, having a set bedtime routine isn’t just for children. Studies show that going to bed and waking up around the same time each day results in more restful sleep.
Be sure to start your bedtime routine a few hours before you plan to actually go to bed. This allows you time to quiet your mind and body. Avoid doing any mentally demanding work. Plan to avoid screens like your computer, phone, or TV. The blue light from back lit screens tricks the brain into thinking its still daylight hours. If your brain thinks its to early for bed it will make it difficult to relax into sleep. Reading, writing, or taking a bath are great ways to relax, but any activity you find relaxing will do.
In our fast paced modern lives we tend to over schedule ourselves. We’re convinced that there is always more we could or should be doing. In the process, we often forget to schedule buffer zones in case something doesn’t go according to plan. We also forget that having time to relax is just as important as anything else.
Maintaining balance and reducing stress sometimes means saying ‘no’. That can be difficult when everything seems so pressing and urgent. Try prioritizing your to-do list into the following categories:
Be honest with yourself about how you organize your to-do list. Many things that we feel are important or urgent may not actually have as high a value when compared to the other items on your list. Prioritizing your to-do list will help you focus your efforts on what is most important. Knowing what you can push tot he back burner makes it easier to let go or even just say ‘no’. Just be sure you put ‘me time’ in quadrants 1 or 2, and leave yourself some wiggle room in case you need to make adjustments.
Therapy is an excellent resource for learning ways to cope with stress. But some of the most effective stress relief tips extend well beyond your mind and the therapy couch.
Stress makes your body tenses up, ready to fight or run for your life. But most modern stresses don’t have a natural resolution like that. So the body stays tense and stress hormones remain high. Have you ever noticed how your shoulders, neck, jaw, even your hips start to hurt when you’re stressed? This is because long term muscle tension pulls your spine out of alignment and worsens old injuries. All that tension creates a lot more stress and discomfort than you may realize.
Chiropractic medicine takes a whole body approach to stress relief. Massage relieves muscle tension to help you physically relax. But it goes a step further. Studies show that massage triggers the release of dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin. These are ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters that boost your mood and help you cope with stress. Chiropractic adjustments help in a similar way by correcting misalignment in the spine. This restores balance and function to the body, relieving pain and enabling your body to heal itself. Depending on the severity of your condition, your chiropractor may recommend regenerative medicine. These therapies help reduce bodily stress by repairing damaged muscles, nerves, and joints. Greater range of motion and pain free movement will improve your quality of life and ability to handle other stresses.