Stress is a normal part of life; as humans, our bodies are designed to experience and react to stress physically, mentally, and emotionally. Instinctively, stress keeps us alert to avoid danger; however long-term stress that fails to offer relief or relaxation between life’s many challenges can lead to distress. As a result, we can go on to develop major health problems, such as depression, insomnia, fatigue, emotional eating, weight gain, illness, disease, substance abuse, and more.While stress is often unavoidable, the best way to survive stress and stay healthy is to learn how to effectively manage stress, and work on eliminating stress triggers, or stressors from your life.
Do you need help keeping stress at bay? Here are 6 healthy daily habits that can help you manage and combat stress.
1. Practice good nutrition
The foods you choose can either improve or worsen existing stress levels. Certain types of foods — namely healthy, whole foods such as fruits and vegetables — are effective at increasing levels of hormones that fight stress, and can naturally lower stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Consume fatty fish such as tuna, halibut, salmon, herring, and mackerel, as well as nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid consuming foods and beverages high in fat and sugar, which can trigger cravings and upset your natural chemical balance — worsening stress.
2. Exercise regularly
Exercise naturally combats stress by reducing stress hormone cortisol and producing endorphins — also known as feel-good chemicals that help relieve pain (including stress), and make you feel happier, energetic, and more vibrant.
Add exercise to your daily routine to benefit from its anti-stress effects. Studies have shown that even five minutes of exercise per day can help relieve stress and anxiety.
3. Get more sleep
Lack of sleep can worsen stress since sleep is your body’s time to repair itself. Sleep helps repair cells and regulate hormones so your body can function at a healthy, optimal level when awake.
Make sleep a priority in your life, and change your sleeping environment as needed so you can sleep longer, peacefully, and comfortably. Aim to get between 8 and 9 hours of sleep for the best health benefits.
4. Spend more time outdoors
Technology has Americans spending more time indoors than ever before. Television, computers, and video games can consume hours of valuable time we could otherwise be spending outdoors getting sunshine and fresh air. Plus, technology and electronic gadgets generate positive ions, which can lead to fatigue, tension, anxiety, and irritability upon regular exposure.
On the other hand, heading outdoors increases your exposure to negative ions that help improve your mood, energy levels, and overall health. Go outside more often to benefit from natural stress relief.
5. Laugh more often
Laughter really IS the best medicine, as the saying goes! Real, genuine laughter releases endorphins, which in turn, relaxes your muscles and reduces your body’s stress response. Spend more time with people who make you laugh, watch or listen to comedy, or read a funny book to induce laughter. The more you laugh, the happier and less stressed you’ll be.
6. Practice gratitude and be thankful
When you’re feeling stressed, make a list of things to be grateful for in your life. This can help you focus on the more positive aspects of your life instead of the negative, and is effective at reducing stress.
Also, at the end of every day, identify and share your “favorite part of the day,” and encourage your loved ones to do the same. This allows you to reflect on the good things that happened, rather than the bad. Your favorite part of the day could be as simple as talking to someone new, or as grand as getting a new job promotion. Don’t forget to practice gratitude, and to be thankful for what you have.
Yours in Health,