You have an exam tomorrow, basketball practice is running late, you still have to get a gift for your mother’s birthday…and now you’re starting to feel the beginning of a cold on top of everything else.
Balancing all your responsibilities is difficult, and stressing out only makes everything feel 10 times worse.
Stress isn’t just an uncomfortable feeling – it affects the body in many ways. It weakens the immune system, so it can make a person physically sick. Stress can impair memory, and stress can even advance the aging process.
Unfortunately, we need to feel stress occasionally. According to Rick Hanson, Ph.D, a neuropsychologist, stress is a coping response that has evolved in humans over time that keeps us alive. If we didn’t feel stressed once in a while, humans wouldn’t know to avoid predators or find food.
“It’s natural. What’s also natural, though – and you see it in the wild – is that most stressful episodes are resolved quickly, one way or another. The natural biological, evolutionary blueprint is to have long periods of mellow recovery after bursts of stress,” Hanson says.
The problem is that nowadays we are constantly trying to multitask, so we’re always stressed with no breaks. According to Hanson, the best way to reduce stress is to build resilience. Follow these ways to reduce stress to give your mind and your body a break from your crazy life.
Taking a break charges the body’s reparative and digestive activities. It’s also important to get enough quality sleep time. If you don’t get six to eight hours at night, try to find time to take a short nap. Keep it to under 45 minutes, though, so you don’t disrupt your sleep at night.
Have a Good Laugh
Get together with friends or put in a funny movie when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Laughter can reduce physical effects of stress such as fatigue.
A healthy body is able to handle stressors much better. Like your mom told you, remember to eat your veggies and avoid sugar. Healthy fats and protein can be found in fish, nuts and grass-fed meats. Having a full belly helps you stay calm and have good energy…very necessary for stressful situations.
Whether you run, dance, bike or jump, exercise helps to bring down adrenaline levels and lower cortisol levels. The endorphins, chemicals released during exercise, trigger a positive response in the body that will make you feel way better.
Listen to Music
Many studies have found that soothing music can help reduce stress by triggering biochemical stress reducers and can decrease blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety levels.
Reducing your mental activity, even if it’s for a few minutes, has been a proven way to reduce stress. Being aware of your thoughts and emotions without distractions helps the brain rely more on the neocortex and less on the amygdala, the alarm bell of the brain.
Scientific studies have found that simply chewing gum can reduce cortisol levels and help relieve stress.