Life can be busy and chaotic at times, things can go wrong and we can be left feeling flustered, overwhelmed and unhappy. Stress is an emotion that we all have to deal with every now and again, whether it’s due to something major happening in our lives or sometimes just an accumulation of small things over time. In the short run, we know stress can be unpleasant. It can affect our sleep, our appetite and our mood- but ongoing stress can literally take years off your life. It can lead to heart issues, suicide and can lead to obesity which comes along with its own health problems. Learning how to deal with stress is so important, and while we’re never going to escape it completely, there’s more that we can do than you might think. Here are some of the ways you can improve both your physical and mental health by reducing stress.
The last thing you probably feel like doing when you’re stressed out is heading down the gym, but if you go anyway it will do wonders for your state of mind. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain which naturally make you feel happier and more relaxed. If you choose an exercise that’s fun, you’ll enjoy yourself and it could take your mind off whatever is worrying you. It could be a zumba class, a bike ride with a friend or a walk with your dog. Whatever it is, lace up your sneakers and get out there and get your body moving. Your mental health will thank you for it!
Meditation is the practice of bringing your mind to the current moment, practicing breathing techniques and going through exercises that help you to improve your state of mind. There are lots of guided meditations online which you can use, it’s a fantastic way to improve your perspective on things. It’s very relaxing and calming which can help to reduce blood pressure and tense muscles. It can help you to clear your mind of any worries, and practice visualisation techniques which can put you in a positive frame of mind. It has been scientifically proven to be a useful way to deal with stress.
Take a Hot Bath
Hot water can lower blood pressure and ease knotted muscles. It’s a quiet place where you can just relax, listen to some music or just enjoy the silence. Use a face and hair mask to pamper yourself, then afterwards paint your nails and moisturise your body. Taking the time to look after your body and appearance can go a long way in making you feel more put together. It’s a way that you can relax and have a bit of you time as well.
Go For a Massage
Either rope a partner in to help, or book yourself a day at a spa. Massage releases endorphins as well as relaxing the body so it really can help you to feel better in body and mind. If you’ve been anxious and stressing for a while, the muscles of the body will feel incredibly tight and a massage to loosen things up can make such a big difference. You could book in for a full body massage, or have them focus just on your back and neck, head, hands or feet. The hands and feet are fantastic areas to focus on, as the long nerves of the body all link up to these areas. So stimulating the muscles here can positively impact other areas of your body too such as digestion and even chronic pain.
Speak to a Friend
Bottling up your emotions can cause added stress, worry and increase the chances that you will do something unhealthy to deal with these feelings such as alcohol or drugs. Instead of keeping it inside, if you’re stressed out about something it can be so helpful chatting it through with a friend. Sometimes just telling another person about it and speaking out loud about your issues can be beneficial, you might come to conclusions about how to help yourself or you might realise that things aren’t actually as bad as you thought.
If you don’t feel as though you can open up about your emotional distress to a friend, journalling can have a similar effect. Maybe you feel too much bitter resentment about an accident or injury and aren’t ready to open up to another person, or perhaps you feel scared or embarrassed. Either way, writing out your thoughts and feelings instead can be cathartic, it can help you to make sense of the way that you’re feeling and see things from a more logical perspective. It’s a way you can truly express yourself without worry of feeling judged and it can help you to become more in tune with the way that you’re thinking and feeling. It’s accessible and easy, and needn’t take a lot of time. Keep a notepad and pen by your bed and spend five or ten minutes each evening just jotting things down.
Do Something You Enjoy
If you’ve had a stressful few days, week or month, if you get the opportunity it’s nice to do something enjoyable. It’s not to say you should rely on things like food or drink to keep you happy, but perhaps arranging a date night or a night with friends where you enjoy a tasty meal and some company can help restore the balance. You could take time just for you, spend an evening watching your favourite movies or a show on Netflix, or you could go on a daytrip to somewhere you’ve been wanting to visit. Whatever it is, doing something good can help to balance out the bad, can cheer you up and leave you feeling much better.