Managing stress has become a necessity of life. Stress ultimately causes disease- you need to evaluate your physical, chemical and emotional stresses and know what works best for you to decrease the effect they have on your body.
Understanding who we are, knowing our major struggles, putting them in perspective, and taking action can help us deal with stress. The following strategies can also improve stress tolerance and help lessen the effects of stress on our health.
Get Out and Enjoy Nature
While our society has made our lives more convenient with technology, air conditioning and electricity, it has deprived us of an essential source of stress relief— our connection with nature. Studies show that interacting with nature can help lessen the effects of stress on the nervous system, reduce attention deficits, decrease aggression, and enhance spiritual well-being.
“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into positive,” said Hans Selye, author of the groundbreaking work around stress theory. When optimism is hard to muster, cognitive-behavioral therapy, which trains people to recognize negative thinking patterns and replace them with more constructive ones, can also help reduce the risk of chronic stress and depression. We often recommend physiotherapy or family counseling as part of your care plan.
Laugh It Off
I LOVE to laugh. Humor relieves stress and anxiety and prevents depression. Laughter can help boost the immune system, increase pain tolerance, enhance mood and creativity, and lower blood pressure, potentially improving treatment outcomes for many health problems.
Calm Your Mind
In recent decades, many forms of meditation have gained popularity as relaxation and pain relief tools. You might want to look at the Oprah & Deepack Chopra 21-day meditation challenge. It could be very helpful. Focusing on our breath, looking at a candle, or practicing a non-judgmental awareness of our thoughts and actions can help tune out distractions, reduce anxiety and depression, and accept our circumstances.
Guided imagery, such as visualizing pictures prompted by an audiotape recording, also shows promise in stress relief and pain reduction. Based on the idea that the mind can affect the body, guided imagery can be a useful adjunct to cancer therapy, focusing patients on positive images to help heal their bodies.
Build a Support System
Healthy relationships are key to health and happiness, especially for women. Women with low social support, for example, are more likely to increase blood pressure under stress. Loneliness may also contribute to stress in both men and women, also leading to poorer outcomes after a stroke or congestive heart failure. On the other hand, active and socially involved seniors are at lower risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Employ the Relaxing Power of Music
Singing and listening to music can also relieve pain and reduce anxiety and depression. Music therapy can also elevate mood and positively affect the immune system in cancer patients and reduce fatigue and improve self-acceptance in people with multiple sclerosis.
Enjoy the Warmth of Human Touch
Massage has also been shown to reduce aggression and hostility in violent adolescents, to improve mood and behavior in students with ADHD, and to lead to better sleep and behavior in children with autism.
Massage has other therapeutic properties, as well. Regular massage may reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension and may lead to less pain, depression, and anxiety and better sleep in patients with chronic low-back pain.
Give Exercise a Shot
To get the best of both worlds, affecting the mind through the body while getting into good physical shape, try exercise. Exercise can also reduce depression and improve wound healing in the elderly. Tai chi, which works for people of all ages, may enhance heart and lung function, improve balance and posture, and prevent falls, while reducing stress.
It may take a while to find what stress relief tools work for you- you also need to keep an open mind because depending on the type of stress or place you are in your own life the tool you use may change. This is definitely a major factor in maintaining or achieving health and happiness.