Stress is a common occurrence in our daily lives; sitting in traffic on our way to work, paying bills on time, relationship troubles and so on. A small amount of stress in our lives is normal; in fact, positive stress, aka eustress, can even be good for us (think motivation to perform well during a sporting event). However, when stress becomes chronic it starts to become a bigger problem.
According to the American Psychological Association, 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month, and almost half reported that their stress levels have increased in the past year. Besides the psychological toll stress can take on a person, stress has the potential to also bring on negative physical consequences – such as heart disease, obesity and depression.
Whether it’s work-related, financial, or family stress, it is crucial to take control of your stress for your overall health and quality of life. Below are tips on how to help decompress and how to avoid becoming overwhelmed:
1. Stay Positive – Looking on the bright side of things, especially laughing, has been shown to lower the levels of the stress hormone, reduce inflammation of the arteries, and increase the “good” (LDL) cholesterol.
2. Exercise – The American Heart Association recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. When you exercise, your body releases mood-boosting endorphins that help melt away stress and make you feel good.
3. Unplug – Put down your smartphone, tablet, and computer and learn to take a break from electronics. Taking a 10-15 minute daily break can help to escape the stress technology can bring.
4. Find Time for Yourself – Whether it’s taking a warm bath, listening to music, or going for an evening walk, finding time for yourself is important to help take the edge off of your stress.
5. Meditate – Even if it’s only 10 minutes, find time throughout the day to meditate. Practicing meditation has been shown to decrease levels of stress and anxiety, improve heart health and overall improve relaxation.