Stress is the body’s natural response to external demands, both the good and the bad. In todays society it is hard not to get overwhelmed between work, school, family, and other commitments and according to the World Health Organization, stress, particularly work-related, is the second-most common health problem. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, diabetes, headaches, musculoskeletal pain, and clinical depression, just to name a few. That being said we should all do our best to manage and reduce our stress levels and therefore it is important set aside some time in your schedule to unwind and relax. Listed below are a few tips (not all) on how to manage stress and reduce and limit any physical and mental issues that arise with prolonged and chronic stress.
Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices and disciplines. With yoga taking into account the whole body and full body wellness it has been shown to help with pain management, stress reduction, physical and mental wellbeing and a decrease in workplace injuries. There is a vast amount of yoga practices and teachers which provides an option for everyone.
2. Belly Breathing
“Belly breathing” (or deep breathing) has been shown to reset the nervous system and studies have shown a decrease in fatigue and anxiety with deep breathing exercises. In order to gain the benefits of deep breathing, it should be done 3–4 times per day for at least 5 minutes. Although belly breathing or deep breathing takes a bit of time to learn the benefits are worth it.
3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR):
This technique involves engaging the muscles, actively contracting (for 10 seconds) and relaxing (for 20 seconds) muscles of the legs, arms, and abdomen with the eyes closed, focusing separately on each muscle group as you move up (or down) the body in full. When practising PMR, it is important to mentally focus on contraction and relaxation. To maximize on its benefits, try doing the exercise 2–3 times per day. Studies have shown a decrease in stress hormones, anxiety, and blood pressure with the use of this technique.
Mindfulness meditation is a common technique used to combat stress, anxiety, chronic pain, depression, sleep disturbances and headaches to name a few. Mindfulness has become a popular topic for mental health and wellbeing and it is considered a useful technique to help modify a persons response to stress. Many mindfulness exercises involve practising just that—being mindful. It involves focusing on breath, posture, and the space you occupy at the present moment. Often, even just adding a few minutes of meditation to your routine per day can make a big difference in your overall sense of mental well-being.
5. Physical Activity
Being physically active for at least 20-30 min a day has shown to produce many physical and mental benefits. People who are physically active live longer and healthier lives and are more productive, and more likely to avoid illness and injury. Its often hard to find the time to get to the gym or get a good workout in however physical activity doesn’t always have to be a fast paced run, or long weighted routine at the gym. Go out for a brisk walk, rake the lawn, shovel the driveway, play pickle ball with some friends or go for a snowshoe just get that heart rate up! There are many forms of physical activity so find something that works best for you and your schedule.
More often than not stress is looked at as a negative entity, however if managed properly and appropriately it will not create any physical or mental issues. Listed above are a few ways to help manage the everyday stresses of life, none of these strategies require a lot of time or energy and should easy to fit into your daily schedule. I know sometimes that is easier said than done but just remember that “YOU” are important too and it is vital to take care of yourself as well. “You can’t pour from and empty cup! So take care of yourself first.”