Life is filled with stress. Some of it can be helpful in motivating us into action, but when stress becomes chronic, it can have negative long ranging affects upon the body and mind. Mental conditions that are associated with chronic stress include: anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse. Chronic stress has been known to affect most every body system. Symptoms of stress in the body can include: skin rashes, high blood-pressure, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal diseases. Chronic stress can weaken your immune system, as well as increase the frequency and severity of any current physical, or mental conditions. So, with that in mind, here are 10 useful ways you can de-stress.
10 Ways to De-Stress
10 Ways to De-Stress
- Exercise: Exercise has been shown to help lower stress levels and helps the body in a multitude of ways. Feeling stressed? Take a walk, a jog, a bike ride, a swim, dance, play a sport, punch a bag, do some yoga or pilates. It doesn't matter so much what you do, just do something to get your body moving, regularly.
- Hang out with Friends: Humans are social animals and as such, we need regular contact with other people. Social connection is one of the more robust factors in longevity and life satisfaction.
- Laugh/Smile More: "They" say that laughter is the best medicine. Laughing does wonderful things for us, including strengthening our immune system, giving us a boost of energy, and decreasing subjective pain sensations, while also decreasing the effects of stress on the body and mind. Researchers found that smiling offers much the same benefits as laughter. One added benefit people get from smiling is that others consider them more attractive, than non-smilers.
- Deep Breathing: There is more to deep breathing, than simply breathing deeply. Also called belly breathing, abdominal breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, deep breathing allowing for full oxygen exchange. This practice has the benefit of slowing your heartbeat, as well as lowering and/or stabilizing your blood pressure.
- Listen to Music: It's been shown that listening to classical music can lower your blood pressure and decrease stress related hormones in your blood stream. Additionally, if you listen to any music that you love, your brain will be bathed in feel-good chemicals, such as dopamine.
- Engage in a Craft: The repetitive motion of crafts like knitting, sewing, and making jewelry have been know to soothe anxiety. In addition to the repetitive motion, craft work involves keeping your focus on the here and now process, allowing you to let go of distracting or distressing intrusive thoughts.
- Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness involves actively focusing your attention on the present moment, while taking a non-judgmental stance regarding your thoughts and feelings. Becoming both the observer and the observed. Most stressful thoughts involve reliving past events, or worries about the future. Mindfulness instantly brings you to the present, leaving those stressful thoughts behind, for awhile. Even practices of eating mindfully have been found to be beneficial.
- Practice Gratitude: Gratitude is the feeling and expression of appreciation for what you have, instead of what you want. Practicing gratitude can increase your personal feelings of abundance, support, and positivity. Practicing gratitude can also help decrease feelings of loneliness, and jealousy .
- Distract yourself: Distraction is especially useful when combating negative ruminations that cause stress. Studies show that if you can distract yourself your two minutes, at the onset of the rumination, you can effectively stop the rumination. Also, having at least a two minute distraction allows your body to process any stress related chemicals and get back towards baseline.
- Have a Hobby/Geek out on something: Could be thought of as a more formalized version of distracting yourself. Most hobbies involve some concentration and focus, many also allow you some freedom of self-expression, which can also be personally rewarding. Geeking out on something generally involves getting deeply involved with some topic and learning as much as you can about it. Both allow you to focus on something other than stresses, worries, or ruminations for a time.