Stress, it’s a modern day problem that can create illness and affect lives, sometimes to extreme levels. According to the Health and Safety Executive, figures for 2013/2014 show that 39% of all workplace illness was due to stress, anxiety or depression, that’s over a third of all time lost at work! Stress can help create issues with blood pressure, heart problems and it can affect your general happiness in a very negative way. Stress can even be a factor in weight gain, especially around our middle, due to the release, and prolonged elevated levels of the hormone Cortisol. Good news is, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your stress levels, and that’s what I want to talk about this month.
This is quite a large topic and can encompass many activities to help you relax. The main topic I want to talk about is meditation, it’s easier than you think and it’s not just for spiritual people. Meditating on a regular basis can not only help reduce stress, it can also help reduce blood pressure, lighten your mood and improve your ability to deal with daily situations. All you need to begin with is a spare 5-10 minutes each day, turn off your phone and find a quiet room. Meditation is simply the practice of being still both physically and mentally. You can listen to some soothing music in the background or meditate in silence, just sit comfortably, close your eyes and relax. It’s normal for many thoughts to come to your mind, just accept them and let them drift away. Spend 5-10 minutes doing that each day and you should start seeing a change relatively quickly.
Exercise is a great way of reducing stress. Not only does it allow you to put any anger into your workout, which we know pushes you to exercise harder, but it also causes endorphins to be released in your body. Endorphins help create that feel-good factor in the brain and this helps the stress levels to naturally begin to fall.
Going to the gym is a good way of exercising but an even better way is to get outdoors, not only do you get a workout but you also get out into nature, into the fresh air. Getting out into the outdoors is such a great way to relax and reduce stress.
It’s said that laughter is the best medicine and when it comes to stress, it’s absolutely correct. An article in The Independent from 2011 detailed results of research stating laughter can help alleviate issues including stress, heart disease and pain. Just like exercise, laughter helps the body release the feel-good endorphins, it also reduces the amount of cortisol in our body, the stress hormone.
Watching a funny movie or TV show, or being out with friends can all increase laughter and decrease stress.
Family, friends, and community
We can become the people we spend out time with. This means that if you spend your time with negative people, you will begin to feel and act negatively. This can contribute to our rising stress levels, but mixing with positive, inspirational and supportive people can have an amazing effect on our stress levels because we tend to be happier and more relaxed. Having a positive community or group around us can also give us the chance to discuss our issues rather than keep them bottled up inside, this obviously helps to reduce the amount of stress we’re feeling on a daily basis. Almost all of us seem to be on social media now, how many times do you look at your news feed and groan because someone on your friends or followers list is posting yet again another negative post. Is it time to take them off your list and surround yourself with great friends who will not only care about you but who will motivate you to go further with your life. The same applies to the people around us, you may not be able to cut them out of your life, but you can choose not to be drawn into any negative comments they may make.
Reducing the negativity you are exposed to on a daily basis, helps to reduce the overall stress we feel. Engaging in things we enjoy, such as laughter, exercise and relaxing, will also drastically reduce the effect stress has on our body, mind, and life.
I’d love to hear if any of these tips have helped you. If they have, please leave a comment and share this post.