Life can be unpredictable, and sometimes stressful situations can occur in our lives that are beyond our control. Therefore, it is important to train the mind and body to stress less when such situations present themselves.
If not managed properly, stress can cause illnesses, relationship breakdowns, hardships and tragedies. By stressing less, you will be less of a ‘reactor’ to external situations and instead be in control and capable of designing a happier, calmer life.
What is stress?
Cortisol, the stress hormone released when we are in fight or flight mode, was good for our ancestors who had saber tooth tigers chasing them. But how does cortisol actually help our performance in the workplace? The caveman was a basic model of what we are today and he would have shaken the effects of cortisol off if he had survived. Although humanity has vastly evolved since then, we have come to accept that stress is a part of our life while having no real understanding of how to release and manage it.
Stress is a fear-based emotion and it is astonishing that some have the belief that stress is good for our performance. The release of cortisol is a natural response to deal with a stressful event; thus, it is more important for the body’s relaxation response to be activated so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event. In our current high-stress culture, the stress response is activated so often that the body does not always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress. When stress compounds on a day-to-day basis without any form of release, this can have disastrous consequences.
How to stress less
So, how can you stress less? Stress is manageable, but it does take deliberate action. Here are 5 ways to stress less that you can implement into your daily routine.
1. Stress less by meditating
Scientific research continues to suggest the many benefits of meditation, which includes improved relaxation and the ability to deal with stress. We provide meditation classes for individuals and groups, as well as corporate meditation for workplaces and even free informational talks, so please do contact us if you would like to find out more about meditation.
2. Stress less through exercise
According to Mayo Clinic, “Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.” There are numerous short and long-term benefits of exercise.
For one, exercise releases chemicals in your body called endorphins, which can boost one’s mood and battle stress and depression. According to WebMD, endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.
Some simple ways to exercise to stress less:
- Take some time out to walk around the office or neighbourhood
- Choose stairs instead of escalators/elevators
- Add exercise into your morning routine (sit ups, push ups, burpees, star jumps and on-the-spot jogs don’t require equipment)
- If you spend most of your time sitting or in front of your computer, take regular breaks to stretch and rest your eyes
3. Stress less by deliberately taking breaks
It is always important to take deliberate breaks. Those with busy schedules may think that taking time out may hinder them from their work, but it can in fact do the opposite: resting the body and mind can help you come up with new ideas or tackle challenges with a whole new approach. As mentioned previously, stress relief is also important in the long run as it helps prevent illnesses and makes challenging situations more manageable.
Breaks could include:
- Dedicated ‘phone off’ days
- Spending time with loved ones
4. Stress less by speaking to someone you trust
Having negative emotions and stressful thoughts is a natural part of human life. Bottling these emotions and thoughts can have detrimental effects to your wellbeing, so it is important to find a trustworthy and understanding person to speak to about these issues.
According to the Better Health Channel, talking to someone you trust can help you:
- Sort through the problem or to see the situation more clearly
- Look at the problem in a new or different way
- Release built-up tension. This can help you to gain new insight into the situation that is causing the problem
- Find out that you are not alone. You may find that many other people share your feelings
- Identify options or solutions you hadn’t thought of before
5. Stress less by eating healthier
A healthier living can prevent/cure illnesses, strengthen focus, improve relationships, boost self-confidence and greatly enhance your overall wellbeing. Starting your journey to a life of healthier eating is surprisingly easy.
Here are some easy, general tips:
- Drink plenty of water. Try substituting soft drink or coffee with water – if you have become too accustomed to soft drink or coffee, try to make it gradual
- Opt for fresher foods as opposed to fast food and take away
- Eat main meals regularly – don’t skip meals
- Eat plenty of vegetables
These tips are general – please consult a professional for advice relating to your specific needs.
For more information on how meditation can help you to reduce the stress in your life, don’t hesitate to contact us.
This post appeared originally on Troy Drake’s LinkedIn. Troy Drake is the meditation facilitator and business mentor at Streamline Meditation.