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How To Reduce Stress In Your Life: 6 Ways To Regain Control Of Yourself
Even though the term ‘stress’ has actually been in use for less than 100 years, humanity has been aware of stress and its associated problems since its beginning. Stress occurs as each individual reacts to the surrounding world. To a great extent, stress is normal and helps us deal with potentially difficult situations. Under normal conditions, once the immediate cause of stress is gone, the mind and body return to a more relaxed state. Today’s fast paced, hectic world often does not allow us much time between incidents, and as a result, stress becomes our constant, and unwelcome, companion.
Stress is what triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response, releasing stress hormones that will allow us either to defend ourselves or beat a hasty retreat, after which the body would return to normal. The problem with stress today is that it generally allows us neither option, but is the result of continuous, unrelenting pressures. Stress has a number of very serious effects and can damage nearly every part of the body: heart, reproductive system, brain, digestive system, and liver. People who are stressed are also more likely to use alcohol, smoke, use recreational drugs, or overeat.
Because stress is so harmful, as soon as you realize the pressure you are under, you should take steps to reduce stress in your life. Although some people will opt for a strictly medical approach to stress management, such as prescription medications, there are other effective ways to get your stress under control without the use of possible dangerous or addictive chemicals.
- Recognizing exactly what is causing you to be stressed out is the first step in remedying the situation. Make a list of the obvious stressors to provide a self-help baseline. Once you have identified the problem areas, you can try to avoid them as much as possible; find another, less crowded way to work, or turn off the evening news before you hear about yet another disaster thousands of miles away. If you have an obnoxious boss or coworker, change jobs if possible, and avoid the pests as much as you can if you have to stick it out.
- Eating and sleeping well can also help you to reduce stress. The foods you eat will make a big difference in how your body will be able to respond to different situations, and foods that have contributed only a great deal of sugar or fats will not provide the kind of nutritional foundation that you need. And, if you are not getting enough sleep, at least 6 or 7 hours per night, you will be more likely to suffer from stress.
- Exercise is a very good way to reduce stress. Walks or runs are particularly good because they get you out of your usual environment and allow you to see new things. Exercise also releases our ‘feel good’ hormones, endorphins, so that the effects of stress on our bodies are lessened.
- Doing something that you enjoy is another good way to reduce stress without the use of chemicals. Most of us get so caught up in the everyday struggle that we forget to take some time for ourselves. However, it is important to take even half an hour and engage in something you like.
- Meditation is one of the most powerful ways to fight stress. The simple act of learning to relax is the first way that meditation is valuable, but its benefits don’t stop there – meditation makes your brain more flexible and more able to deal with challenges, and it also increases the levels of hormones and neurotransmitters that help our brains to function more effectively.
- Much has been made of the ability to multi-task, but trying to do a number of things at once usually means that none of the projects will be completed when they should or very well. Attempting to do 5 things at once is bound to produce stress, but you can reduce stress by doing just one thing at a time. You’ll probably find that you’ll get everything done more quickly and efficiently and with a lot less stress and pressure.