Stress Management Tips
April 26 2017
Learn about some healthy ways to manage your stress.
Stress is a state of considerable mental or emotional strain and tension. Managing stress is important to every part of your health because some stress is inevitable in everyday life. From the hurry to get out the door and drive through traffic to the everyday annoyances of a clogged sink or broken dishwasher, many situations cause stress.
When there is too much stress in your life, this is not a good situation; it can lead to physical symptoms. An overload of stress taxes your immune system, affects your metabolism and can even change the way that your brain processes information. Too much stress can impact your ability to get a good night's sleep and may affect your relationships. Fortunately, there are many healthy and positive ways to manage stress so that it does not build up to unhealthy levels.
The Relaxing Benefits of Tea
Many teas offer stress management and relaxation benefits. Chamomile tea is made from the dried flowers and leaves of the chamomile plant. This tea is believed to help reduce anxiety and insomnia. Chamomile tea also helps to calm an upset stomach, which is a common symptom of stress. Because chamomile tea is caffeine-free, you can drink a cup of it about 30 minutes before bedtime to promote a good night's sleep.
Another great tea to try is peppermint. This type of tea provides benefits such as good digestion and enhanced relaxation. Peppermint tea is also free of caffeine, which makes it a good choice for drinking before bedtime. Menthol, the active ingredient in peppermint tea, also helps to reduce inflammation and pain. Stress hormones such as cortisol increase inflammation and pain, so drinking the tea can combat these effects of stress.
The act of making tea is also relaxing. Choose a beautiful teacup and saucer to treat yourself. Add a few drops of lemon juice for immune-boosting vitamin C and a few drops of raw, organic honey for additional health benefits and sweetness.
Essential Oils for Stress Relief
Essential oils are also helpful for the management of stress. Try essential oils such as rose and geranium. These essential oils help with reduction of stress and the improvement of mood. You could also try lemon essential oil. The invigorating scent can lift your spirits while the vitamin C enters through your skin and gives your immune system a boost. Ylang ylang essential oil helps to release toxins and negative energy that build up from constant exposure to stressful situations.
There are numerous ways that you can use essential oils. You can add one drop of essential oil per ounce of shampoo or conditioner. Essential oils can also be dabbed onto your pulse points, such as the insides of your wrists. The heat from your body activates the oils. Another way to use essential oils is to find a small glass vial with a cork. Make sure that the glass vial is outfitted with a clasp so that you can wear it as a necklace. The oils will diffuse out of the cork, providing their stress-reduction benefits all day long.
Take It Easy with a Bath
Consider taking a long bath to help alleviate stress and relax your body. Try the relaxing effects of a bubble bath. A bubble bath in warm water can help your muscles, ligaments and tendons to relax if you are known to tense up when stressed. A mineral or Epsom salt bath is also helpful for alleviating stress. These salts help to draw out toxins from your body. They also offer healing benefits to your skin. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to the bath water.
There are many stress-busting foods that you can try. A square of dark chocolate delivers endorphins to your brain. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants that can combat some of the internal effects of stress. Be sure to eat just a small amount of chocolate. It contains caffeine, so avoid eating it within four hours of your bedtime.
Another super food to try is pistachios. Pistachios offer complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, protein and healthy fats all in one tiny package. They deliver nutrients including vitamin B-6, riboflavin, potassium, lutein, phosphorus and folate. These nuts provide you with benefits such as weight management, lower cholesterol and restoration of healthy skin. Pistachios are also good antioxidants and help to combat the effects of stress on your immune system.
Seeds are also a good food for times of stress. Choose chia, sesame or pumpkin seeds. These minimally processed foods offer essential nutrients such as manganese and copper, provide plenty of dietary fiber and help you feel full after eating just a small amount.
In addition to trying those superfoods, make some changes to improve your overall diet. When your body is healthy, you will be better equipped to deal with stress. Focus on complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Make sure that your body is well-hydrated with a focus on drinking enough water. Cut down on caffeine and added sugar in your drinks. Avoid self-medicating with food, alcohol or other addictive substances. They will ultimately worsen your level of stress.
Exercise for Stress Management
Exercise is also helpful for managing stress. When you exercise, your body naturally releases endorphins. The endorphins affect your mood, helping you to release negative emotions. The effects of endorphins can last for several hours after a workout. You do not have to be an athlete to enjoy the positive, stress-reduction effects of exercise.
Consider taking a 30- to 60- minute walk outdoors. Find a beautiful park and admire nature. During inclement weather, you could walk around a mall. Visiting the gym provides you with the opportunity to use workout equipment and challenge yourself. A combination of aerobic exercise and weight lifting can help you to build muscle and increase your metabolism.
After a particularly stressful day, there is a level of satisfaction in releasing your energy while doing a leg press or bench press. If you have weary joints, try low-impact exercises such as swimming or yoga. If you are bored with your usual workout routine, try something new. Rock climbing, including indoor climbing, exercises your whole body while providing you with a challenge. Play some inspiring music to get your body moving while you exercise.
Many people find stress relief through practicing meditation or controlled breathing. Meditation is a particularly effective way to free your mind of negative thought patterns while focusing on the here and now. If you have never practiced meditation before, you can try a helpful video or work with an instructor. Many yoga instructors also offer guidance on mediation.
Controlled breathing is also helpful. You can practice controlled breathing at any time and in any place. Even if you only have 30 seconds to calm down during a particularly stressful event, you can take 10 deep breaths and hold them for a few seconds before exhaling. Nobody has to know that you are practicing a stress-relief method at your desk or behind the wheel in heavy traffic.
Relieve Stress Through Hobbies
Try engaging in some creative endeavors or hobbies as a form of stress management. Many forms of art offer ways to relieve your stress. For example, working with clay in a ceramics class is an ideal way to release tension. Pounding the clay to get the air bubbles out allows you to vent your anger. The repetitive action of rolling the clay helps you to relax. The act of forming the clay into a shape allows you to focus on something outside of yourself. Glazing your ceramic artwork is also a soothing process.
The repetitive movements of sewing, knitting, crocheting or coloring in a coloring book are ideal for stress relief as well. Some other stress-busting hobbies to consider include painting, gardening, weaving, spinning, and doing puzzles and crossword puzzles. Some people find stress relief in other productive activities, such as cleaning and cooking.
Pet Your Way to Relaxation
Consider spending some time with animals. The simple, repetitive act of stroking or brushing a cat or dog is known to lower blood pressure and relax your body and brain. In most cases, pets are happy to oblige. The purring of a cat can be quite relaxing, and the pet's physical warmth is soothing to your weary body.
If you do not have a pet, consider volunteering at your local shelter. Walking the dogs or grooming the cats benefits you and the animals. Horseback riding, bird watching and sitting back at an aquarium and watching the fish swim can also help you to reduce stress.
Avoid Stressful Situations (When Possible)
You may wish to decrease your exposure to stressful situations when possible. If politics are eliminating the joy out of gatherings with your extended family, tell everyone that there will be no such discussions. If you feel overwhelmed in dealing with a particular situation, such as home repairs, try to delegate those responsibilities.
When a coworker seems to antagonize you or never has anything good to say, avoid that person whenever possible. Try to avoid situations such as gossip and complaint sessions. These behaviors can get you riled up even if you are not a participant. Simply hearing such conversations can tense your body and make you feel anxious.
Get Enough Sleep
It is also important to get enough sleep every night. While you sleep, your body repairs itself. The time that you sleep is when your brain makes its memories and when your immune system fights off germs.
Plan to go to bed at the same time every night. Make your bedroom an oasis. Take out the television and computer. Remove the clutter. Hang up the clothes. Use room-darkening curtains or blinds and set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. Dedicate your bed to sleep and intimacy only; avoid using your bed for stressful activities such as work or paying bills.
Everyone experiences some stress. A small amount of stress can motivate you to take healthy action. When you begin to feel like your stress level is too high, use one or more of these strategies to reduce your stress level. These healthy ways of managing stress will promote good overall health and well-being.
Robinson, L.; Stress Management: Simple Tips to Get Stress in Check and Regain Control of Your Life; Help Guide Website; Accessed 3/16/2017.