What is Stress? 7 Techniques for Stress Relief
Stress. No matter who you are or what’s going on in your life, chances are you’ve dealt with something stressful today. Whether it’s a big presentation, micro-managing boss, defiant toddler or overdue bill that can’t be paid, there’s just no escaping stressful situations. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to cope with the inevitable stresses of life.
What causes stress?
First things first, what is stress, exactly? It’s generally defined as the body’s physical, mental or emotional reaction to any change that requires adjustment. There are many different sources of stress; boiled down, each of them is a strain or stress on the body or mind. You may be surprised to learn that a little bit of stress can be good -- it serves to motivate you, make you work harder, faster or utilize problem-solving skills. But when stress is excessive or chronic, it can have a negative impact.
How can stress affect your health?
You know what stress feels like: it’s hard to focus, you feel overwhelmed or irritated. Or maybe you don’t even know you’re stressed out, but your shoulders or neck are tense, or your stomach is in knots. The truth is that there’s no one symptom that signifies you’re stressed; everyone responds to stressful situations differently.
However, there are some common physical side effects of stress, including digestive discomfort, muscle tension, headaches, lack of energy, trouble sleeping and even suppressed immune function. Long-term or chronic stress may also contribute to certain risk factors for heart disease.
Stress relief: 7 natural ways to cope
If all this talk about stress has you stressed out, don’t fret! Even though it’s an inevitable experience of the human condition, some mindful techniques, habits and hobbies can help you cope.
- Take a breath. Mindful breathing can bring instant relief when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Try this popular technique: inhale through your nose for four counts, pause and hold your breath for four counts, then exhale slowly through your mouth for at least eight counts.
- Hit the gym. Burn off some steam with a good sweat session at the gym. Not only will the exercise improve your mood, it may also help alleviate some of the other unpleasant side effects of stress, such as low energy and sleeping woes.
- Find a relaxing hobby. Turn off the TV and immerse yourself in a relaxing hobby, such as yoga, reading, knitting, crossword puzzles or even coloring! These hobbies are all a welcome distraction and can help you cope with stressful situations.
- Sniff your favorite scent. Aromatherapy has proven benefits; next time you’re feeling frazzled, try sniffing some soothing scents such as lavender, ylang ylang, bergamot and frankincense.
- Have a laugh. They say laughter is the best medicine, right? It might be the prescription you need to cope with your stressful situation! Studies have shown that laughter can stimulate the release of endorphins, promote relaxation and soothe tension.
- Listen to music. Is there a certain genre of music that calms you down? Or perhaps there’s a specific song that always makes you smile? Because of music’s powerful connection to emotion, putting on some tunes can be a good way to cope with stress.
- Consider herbs & nutrients. A group of herbs known as “adaptogens” may support the body’s response to stressful situations. Some of the most well-known adaptogens include ashwagandha, ginseng, turmeric and Rhodiola rosea.
Your Best Shot for stress support
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