Since 1992, the month of April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month. And for good reason; we’re all stressed! We’re all human, and life can be overwhelming sometimes. Even small things like traffic, or spilled milk, can cause the most calmed, cool, and collected person to have a moment of stress.
But that’s not the kind of stress we’re talking about. We’re talking about chronic, long-term stress that could lead to adverse health effects like high blood pressure, digestive complications, heart conditions, headaches, unhealthy weight loss or gain, sleeplessness, sadness, and depression. That’s right! Your mental health can affect your physical health, so it’s important to keep a check on both.
That’s why we want to spend a few minutes this Friday afternoon discussing tried and true mechanisms to cope with stress. We hope that you’ll deploy some of these methods into your daily routine to achieve a healthier mind, body, and soul. Here are 3 things you can do every day to help alleviate and cope with stress.
Whether that’s taking daily walks, or hitting the gym after work, exercise has consistently been proven to be one of the best ways to cope with stress. That’s because when you exercise endorphins are released in your brain, which leads to a feeling of happiness and euphoria. Exercise also releases a brain chemical called norepinephrine that helps your mind naturally cope with stress. It also reduces the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, released in your body. So not only does exercise help alleviate stress in the interim, like after a bad day at the office, but it also helps build resistance to future stressors.
2) Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness is a simple and non-laborious method to cope with stress. So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness can be best described as practices that anchor you to the present moment. The idea is to not focus on the past (rumination) avoid anxiety over the future, and focus on the present and the things you can control. Mindfulness is often found in activities like yoga and guided meditation but can be even as simple as breathing exercises. A 2018 study from Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience found a neurological link between respiration and focus and showed that those who incorporated intentional and consistent breathing exercises produced levels of noradrenaline in their brain, the chemical that helps you natural cope with stress.
3) Talk About It
Whether it’s your spouse, family member, friend, spiritual or religious leader, or therapist, studies have shown that simply talking about our problems and sharing our negative emotions with someone we trust can be can reduce stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress. According to a neuroscience study by Lieberman et. al. (2007) found that verbalizing our feelings reduces activation in the amygdala, our brain’s alarm system that triggers the fight-or-flight reaction, and instead activates the part of your brain that deals with language, making us less reactive and more mindfully aware. So, next time something is stressing you out, try talking about it with someone you trust and see if you can recognize those fight-or-flight feelings wane.
For more information on how to cope with stress through exercise, mindfulness, and talking to a trusted confidant, check out the links below.
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