Sitting in my graduate classroom on the Wilfrid Laurier University campus in Waterloo, Ontario, I had my first panic attack. It was 2:11 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon in October, 2007. I started to Read
In today’s world, stress is almost inevitable. We feel stressed from different factors such as work, family, and lifestyle, and it affects us physically and emotionally. Stress isn't always bad; it’s often necessary for productivity and for survival. However, when we're constantly stressed and don’t know how to manage it, it can negatively affect our health.
Stress is known to be one of the main root causes of disease. It contributes to nutritional deficiencies, digestive issues, weight changes, eczema, allergies, fatigue, depression, aging, and degenerative diseases. Managing stress is very important to remaining healthy.
Here are 10 things you can do to reduce stress levels:
Change your perception.
The first thing we have to realize is that we create our own stress. Stress comes from the meaning we give to something and the emotions we attach to it. We have the power to choose the way we think, so it’s important to expand our way of thinking and master our emotions. We always have a choice, and we can choose how we want to feel and live our life.
Don’t suppress your feelings. Express yourself through journaling, art, music, or anything you love doing. Talk with someone you trust. Communicate by choosing your words wisely, as they truly affect the way we feel.
Nourish your body.
Nourish your body with wholesome foods and clean water. Try to relax before and during your meals as stress affects digestion and absorption of nutrients. Avoid eating foods that are highly processed and deprived of nutrients.
Nourish your mind and soul
Nourish your mind by learning, reading, or hearing something inspiring. Use affirmations, or positive and empowering thoughts. Feed your spirit by meditating, being in nature, by doing what you love, and by reminding yourself all the things you are grateful for, and by connecting with something bigger than yourself.
Stress dehydrates the body, and dehydration creates stress in the body. Our body is mainly made of water so staying hydrated is very important to function properly. Water helps to boost energy, relieves fatigue, and helps us to be more alert and focused. In general, we should be drinking about half of our body weight in ounces of water, every day.
Exercise is one of the best things we can do to relieve stress and to improve general health. If you don’t know where to start, pick an activity you enjoy doing so it’s easier to stick to, and schedule time so you don’t forget it. If you don’t exercise, start by walking more, and preferably outside. It’s better to do a little than to do none at all.
Relaxation activities such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and tai chi are great stress reducers. They help to calm the nervous system. You can also go to the spa, get a massage, go outside for a walk, enjoy nature, pet your dog, listen to relaxing music, or have a laugh. Satisfying sex is also a great stress reliever.
Get adequate sleep.
Adequate sleep is crucial for proper brain function. If you have trouble sleeping, take a warm bath with candles and Epsom salt, drink a warm cup of camomile tea, or read a chapter of your favorite book. Avoid activities, foods, or beverages that are stimulating at night, and if possible, move the TV out of the bedroom.
Get your anti-stress vitamins.
B vitamins, especially B5, as well as vitamin C, are the two most important anti-stress vitamins. They can’t be stored in the body so we have to get them through foods. B5 is found in whole grains, beans, avocados, and vegetables. Vitamin C is very high in food such as camu camu, citrus fruits, kiwi, papaya, and bell peppers.
Get your anti-stress minerals.
Magnesium, calcium, and potassium are the best anti-stress minerals. They're important to relax the nervous system and the heart. The best natural sources of these alkaline minerals are dark leafy greens — such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard — as well as avocados, bananas, almonds, and quinoa.
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To learn more about dealing with stress, check out our video course How To Manage Stress With Meditation.