10 Good Habits To Reduce Stress Levels
Stress refers to a bodily response to an environmental demand, threat, or a stressor. A healthy level of stress is called eustress and is required for optimal functioning. Stress becomes unhealthy when it gets overwhelming and deteriorates our normal functioning. This unhealthy level of stress is called distress. High levels of stress must be addressed and reduced as soon as possible otherwise it can lead to emotional exhaustion or burnout. This can further lead to other physical and psychological conditions. Simply developing some healthy habits can actually contribute to reducing stress levels to greater extents. These habits not only reduce stress levels but also can improve overall health and well-being.
Daily exercise or any physical activity
The benefits of exercise are uncountable. Research has linked exercise with exceptional physical and psychological benefits. It boosts metabolism, slows down the production of stress hormones, and helps in the release of feel-good chemicals in the body. Exercise also fights with mental health problems like anxiety, depression, etc. Not only exercise but any form of physical activity like running, walking, playing, etc. can offer these benefits.
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A balanced diet
Food constitutes a major contribution to the maintenance of physical health. The higher the physical health, the higher the endurance for stress without harmful consequences. Unprocessed and fresh food can provide us with antioxidants and vitamins that help in maintaining optimal body functioning. The processed food, preserved food, and food high in cholesterol or other unhealthy components must be avoided because they can lead to narrowing down of arteries and veins increasing the risk for brain and heart diseases.
People who do not take enough sleep become vulnerable to more stress because their body does not get the opportunity to repair itself. When we sleep, all the vital functions of our body shut down and the body gets repaired. Research has found that getting enough sleep can boost memory stress resilience and coordination among many other benefits. The required duration of sleep varies among individuals depending upon their physiology, age, and other related factors. The required sleeping hours usually range from six to ten hours.
Loneliness has found to be one of the leading causes of stress. Having people in the form of friends and family with whom we can share our sorrows and happiness is nothing less than a blessing. The point is that the people you connect with must not be toxic. Positive connections with positive people who do not get afraid to support you in a difficult time can prove to be a greater source of stress reduction. Sharing concerns with positive people can help people in finding better solutions for their problems.
Avoid alcohol and drug abuse
People usually turn towards alcohol and drug abuse to combat their stress, but they realize it extremely late that this is just a temporary escape. Alcohol and drug abuse bring along excessively harmful and long-term health, social, and professional consequences. It further adds stress to one’s life in the long run. For example, people who abuse drugs or alcohol become dependent on it and its excessive consumption puts a strain on their kidneys, lungs, heart, and brain, etc. Also, they get fired from their jobs for not being able to function well and lose their families and friends too. Refraining from drug abuse can help people stay away from these stressors and keep the body strong enough to stand strong in the face of hardships.
Meditation refers to a mental practice to calm down the mind and body. It is accomplished by focusing on an object, activity, or a thought to achieve a calm and stable mental and emotional state. Meditation counteracts the physiological reactions produced by stress and thus reduces it to a greater extent. It can be done at home or anywhere. Research has proven the usefulness of meditation in reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and increasing peace and perception. Research is now interested in investigating neurological and cardiovascular benefits of meditation.
Writing a gratitude journal offers exceptional benefits according to research. Gratitude journal refers to a tool of keeping track of the good things in life. A gratitude journal can be written daily or weekly. We naturally focus on the negative aspects of life and ignore the positive aspects. This induces stress. A gratitude journal can help us in altering our perspective towards things. The positive experience helps in releasing hormones of happiness and in reducing stress hormones. Thus, it leads to positive experience and alleviation in stress levels to a greater extent.
Have a pet
According to research dog owners have lower stress levels as compared to non-owners. Another research found a 37% reduction in the level of stress in patients who played with a dog just before their operation. The point is that playing with a pet distracts our mind from painful concerns and experiences which lead to feelings of calmness and comfort. The weird and cute faces that pets make and their activities make humans feel happy and energetic.
Cry when you want to
People who don’t cry consider themselves strong. This is wrong, holding emotions can make people weak mentally and physically. Crying is a natural reaction to unpleasant stimuli, and it flushes out negative chemicals from the body. Crying has psychological benefits as well because it is like a catharsis. Catharsis is a mechanism of releasing stronger emotions that provides relief and crying helps in accomplishing this task too.
Writing one’s concerns and problems on a piece of paper is also like a catharsis. It’s like expressing what is present on the mind. Expressive writing is a productive and therapeutic way of overcoming trauma and stress because it helps in overcoming emotional inhibition. These emotional inhibitions are usually the core reasons behind higher levels of stress.
The practice of all these habits do not require any special assistance from professionals and can be done at home within one’s comfort zone. These habits look insignificant, but their impact is highly significant and backed by research. It is especially important to fight off higher levels of stress to prevent dangerous consequences.
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