Simple and Proven Ways to Reduce Stress

Modern lifestyles are fast-paced and sometimes it can feel like there is nothing you can do to slow things down. But it is possible to take the power back! Sometimes, simply knowing that you can change your situation can make a huge difference to your outlook. Here are five simple tips to help you reduce stress and bring back the balance in your life.

Five Simple Tips to Stay on Top of Stress:

Taking care of your physical well-being can make a huge difference to the way you cope with stress.

1. Take a breath:

Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping dial down stress and making you feel more relaxed. The parasympathetic nervous system is your “rest and digest” system which is active when you are calm and at ease. It works to slow heart rate and facilitate digestion, muscle repair, and recovery [1]. Conversely, when you are stressed, your nervous system or “fight or flight” response kicks in, releasing adrenaline and increasing your heart rate. While the sympathetic nervous system has a vital function, for optimum health, we want to be in the parasympathetic state most of the time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sit down in a comfortable chair, or lie down, close your eyes, and take 20 deep breaths. Think of a happy memory or visualize yourself in a place that makes you feel relaxed and calm.

2. Move:

Get your endorphin release by hitting the gym or heading out for a run or bike ride. Exercise reduces levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol while providing a natural boost of endorphins to help you feel more positive and regain perspective [2].

3. Nourish:

Stress depletes a significant amount of nutrients, including Zinc, vitamin C, and Magnesium, while certain nutrients, such as the B-group vitamins can help the body better withstand stress. Beneficial sources of Vitamin B include bananas, leafy greens, red meat, dairy products, brown rice and other whole grains, legumes, and eggs [3].

4. Sleep:

Lack of sleep elevates levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which over time can lead to fatigue, weight gain (especially around the middle), poor immunity, and elevated blood pressure. Poor sleep also means that your body misses out on the vital repair and recovery work that happens during sleep. Stress can also make it difficult to sleep, causing a vicious cycle. Try to go to bed at the same time each evening and aim for seven to nine hours per night.

5. Start a relaxation practice:

Yoga helps lower heart rate and blood pressure and brings down levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Small amounts of cortisol are harmless to the body, but our current hectic lifestyles stimulates the constant release of large amounts of cortisol, which over time can lead to a range of negative health impacts, including chronic fatigue, low mood, cravings for sweet and salty foods, weakened immunity and weight gain [4]. Meditation and mindfulness teach us to stay in the moment and can help relieve feelings of anxiety, stress, and being overwhelmed [4]. As you learn and practice these techniques, your stress levels will decrease, and your mind and body will become calm and centered. Even 10-15 minutes a day can have a positive impact.