Stress not only makes you moody, it can wreak havoc on your health, weakening your immune system and increasing your risk of heart disease, cancer, and even an early death. Fortunately, the stress you experience is within your control. As the saying goes, you may not be able to control all of your circumstances, but you can choose the way you react to them.
Here are 10 tips to destress and feel better.
1. Go for a walk – If you’re stressed right now, take a 10 minute break to walk. Walk outside around the block, or through the house over and over again. Don’t pace to work through your stress but stride to zone out or meditate in the midst of your activity. Want to go a step further? Walk around in the forest – the Japanese call this mind-boosting activity shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing.
2. Eat a healthy snack – When we are hungry, our stress can be multiplied. Eat a piece of fruit or some raw vegetables. Good fats can help you feel satisfied longer, so try some nuts or an avocado. But remember, stay away from junk food and processed foods; they have actually been shown to make people depressed.
3. Breath deeply - Deep breathing exercises can immediately reduce tension throughout your body. Take 5 minutes to practice deep breathing, filling your lungs and holding it momentarily before exhaling your worries completely.
4. Surround yourself with life – Plants, pets, and other people are all good tools for stress reduction. You don’t have to talk to them, just merely be in their presence. Research has indicated being around houseplants to actually increase relaxation levels, so make sure they are in your home and your office.
5. Get some sunshine – Sunlight provides vitamin D and it also warms the body and brightens our vision. All of these things can promote relaxation and reduce the effects of stress. Numerous studies have been conducted specifically to analyze the possible association between vitamin D and depression. Hint – there is indeed a connection.
6. Have a cup of tea - Green tea is loaded with healthful antioxidants and beneficial compounds that can increase health and your sense of wellbeing. In addition, steeping and cooling the tea forces you to slow down and enjoy the moment.
7. Listen to music – Whether it’s something upbeat that you’ll want to sing along to, or a relaxing instrumental, music can have immediate and profound effects on our mood. It’s something we all know, but shouldn’t forget.
8. Socialize - Sometimes we get so caught up in stressful events that we forget to have a good time. Leave the stressors at home and head out for dinner with friends.
9. Laugh – Watch a funny movie or spend 20 minutes looking at viral videos. Laughter truly is good medicine and a cheap therapy when you are at your wits end.
10. Turn off your phone - Text messages, phone calls, and emails certainly don’t reduce your stress level. Sometimes we all need a break from being “connected” so designate a time each day when you aren’t on-call.
When you choose not to allow stress to affect your life, you aren’t only healthier for it, you’re happier.