I spend a lot of time talking to my patients about stress reduction. Stress presents itself in 3 forms: physical, chemical, and emotional. Today, I wish to focus on the emotional or mental stress. Whether it stems from tension at work, an argument at home, or bad news from your mechanic, stress is a part of all of our lives. During stressful times, cortisol and other stress hormones build up in your body and can lead to problems. For the sake of your health, it is important to have a plan to deal with stress and reduce these harmful stress hormones.
Here is a list of 10 simple ways to reduce the negative effects of too much stress…
1. Try intentional progressive tense and relax exercises. Start with your toes and work your way up to your head, tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in your body.
2. Yoga. Exercising your muscles and deep breathing are both excellent ways to burn off stress hormones and relax your mind.
3. Meditation with deep breathing. Clearing your mind and focusing on deep breathing has been shown to drop blood pressure and reduce cortisol levels.
4. Listen to music. Research has shown that listening to relaxing music reduces stress levels.
5. Laugh. Laughter can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body.
6. Exercise. Burning off stress hormones along with a release of endorphins leaves your body feeling less stressed and energized.
7. Make love. Research has shown that having sex releases stress reducing hormones. Forming positive relationships is also a great way to be less stressed in general.
8. Do an art project. Focusing your mind on constructing something that you enjoy is an effective way to reduce stress.
9. Cook something. The act of destruction (chopping), followed by building something can have an extremely positive effect on stress levels. You also get the reward of eating afterward.
10. Take a walk outside. The exercise of walking is low impact on your joints and will burn off stress hormones. To increase the benefits, walk on a natural surface (like grass) barefoot.
Stress will likely always be a part of your life. Regularly engaging in activities with the purpose of reducing stress will provide you with a more pleasant, pain free life.