Like we discussed in our previous blog, stress can have a negative impact on our immune systems. This April, like every April since 1992, is Stress Awareness Month. While it may be impossible to remove every source of stress in our lives, we can take action to control our stress so that it doesn’t control us! Read on to learn healthy ways to handle stress – and they’re all free!
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
When you’re stressed, you might notice it affects your entire body. You could feel tired, your body might ache, or your head might hurt. Our brain is connected to our entire body, so it makes sense that any stress it’s under would be felt all over. Thankfully, the opposite also holds true! When our bodies feel good, our brain feels less negative effects of stress.
There are many simple things we can do to keep our bodies feeling good! Be sure to drink plenty of water and get enough sleep. Regular sleep is a good first defense against stress. Unsurprisingly, the method most recommended by healthcare professionals to de-stress is exercise.
Exercising reduces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and also releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormones. Not to mention, while you’re busy focusing on your run or your form when you lift weights, your mind will be able to let go of any worries. If you’re not used to exercising regularly or if it seems daunting, start small! Walking for 20 minutes every day or even five minutes of aerobic exercise (walking briskly, swimming, running, cycling, and jumping rope to name a few) can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Talk it Out
When you’re feeling stressed, it can feel like a weight on your shoulders. Try talking through your feelings with a therapist or trusted friend. Unload your feelings and worries. It’s okay not to have an answer or solution; sometimes you just need to say how you feel so it’s not held inside. Bottling up emotions can cause an intense pressure to build inside your body which can weaken your body’s immune system.
For a lot of people, it might seem difficult at first to open up. If you’re not comfortable talking to someone, try writing in a journal! With every sentence you write, you’ll find yourself slowly unraveling a tight knot caused by stress.
Sit up straight with your feet on the ground and recite a positive mantra. As you repeat this mantra, it will push negative thoughts out of your mind. Try doing this for a few minutes a day. The more you do it, the easier it will be to focus!
Take a Deep Breath (or a Few)
If meditating isn’t your cup of tea, try a similar method but without the mantra. Sit up straight with your feet on the ground and take deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This method will help lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and similar to exercising, it will make you focus on what you’re doing and not on any problems that cause you stress.
Find Your Own Way
If these methods don’t work for you, don’t give up hope! There’s something for everyone when it comes to de-stressing. Try coloring or creating some other form of art! Puzzles and brain teasers might help take your mind off stressors and even give a burst of endorphins when you complete them! You can clean your space and organize your things—the possibilities are endless!