How to reduce stress?
Published on Jan 21, 2022
By Dr. Surya Bhagwati
Chief In- House Doctor
BAMS, DHA, DHHCM, DHBTC | 30+ Years of Experience
We all deal with stress at some point in our lives. It can come from various sources – work, family or financial crisis. Stress is your body’s response to a situation that puts pressure on you, whether it's physical, mental or emotional. Sometimes stress can be helpful by heightening your awareness or improving concentration. However, a prolonged feeling of stress can be harmful and is best removed.
Let’s shine some light on the eight ways you can reduce stress.
Are there different types of stress?
Yes. There are two main types of stress:
- Acute stress - This stress lasts for a short period of time. Everyone experiences it on a regular basis. If we quickly avoid an accident while crossing the road, lose balance while going down a flight of stairs, or have an argument with someone, we are experiencing acute stress. It helps us from dangerous situations. It also occurs when you try something new or exciting, this feeling is also known as an adrenaline rush.
- Chronic stress – This is stress that lasts for a long period. It occurs when you face various struggles in life. Long-term problems like money troubles, work pressure, family illness, and an unhappy marriage are all examples of situations that can cause chronic stress. Chronic stress is defined as stress that lasts for over a week and has harmful effects on the body and mind.
What happens when you are overstressed?
When you are overstressed, cortisol is released into the bloodstream. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, causes the arteries to constrict. Along with this, another hormone called epinephrine is released as well, which increases the heart rate. Together they force the blood to pump harder and faster. When this happens for a prolonged time, it can lead to health problems like heart disease.
If you live a stressful life, your body can be negatively affected with:
- Elevated blood sugar levels
- Weight gain
- Suppressed immune system
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sadness or depression
This is why it is important to know how to reduce stress.
What is stress management and what are its benefits?
These days, stress management is very important and quite necessary to attaining a healthy and happy life. There are several techniques you can use to relieve stress, including yoga, physical exercise, relaxation, meditation, etc.
For you to live a healthy and happy life, it is very important to lower stress levels.
Here are the benefits you can gain from controlling your stress levels:
- Improved sleep
- Weight Control
- Stronger immunity
- Improved recovery
- Reduced muscle tension
- Elevated mood
How to reduce your stress levels?
In today’s uncertain world, everybody has their own sources of stress.
Following are some ways to overcome stress. I’ve selected these techniques as they are easy to do, free, and provide fast-acting relief from stress.
1. Meditate to lower stress levels
Meditation is a way to calm your mind. Different people have different ways to meditate. Saying a phrase in your mind on loop as you take deep breaths, chanting, practising moments of silence, and positive thinking, are great starting points for meditation. Simply paying attention to the senses – sight, taste, smell, and touch, can also bring you inner peace. Meditation helps you focus on the present and gets you into a calm state to make the correct decision and maintain that calmness and focus with a lasting effect.
2. Take a nature's walk
Walking is a great form of physical exercise. It also allows you a change in scenery and gets you out of your home. This can help you achieve a better frame of mind. Take a look at people around you, the trees, animals, and the sky. Even experiencing the sunny weather can get you in a better mood and a clear mind.
3. Hugging a loved one
When you hug your loved one, a hormone called oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) is released. This can increase happiness and reduce levels of stress. It can also help you feel more appreciative of those around you.
4. Let your creativity flow
Research shows that something as simple as colouring in a colour book can be therapeutic. Whether you decide to draw, paint, colour or sketch, it will help lower your stress levels and get you in a better frame of mind.
5. Eating a balanced diet
What you eat is how your body feels. It is crucial to give our body the nutrients it needs for it to not just survive but thrive. A poor diet contributes to a weaker immune system and an inability to fight stress. One can always make simple and easy choices to maintain a clean and balanced diet. Avoiding sugar in food and drinks, switching from refined cooking oil to healthier options, and avoiding junk food are some easy habits to maintain for lowering stress levels naturally.
6. Practice yoga for a calmer mind
Yoga is a great combination of exercise, movement, mediation, and controlled breathing. It is a great habit to maintain a calm state of mind as is great at relieving stress.
7. Practicing positive self-talk
How you talk to yourself really plays a big role in how you carry yourself and deal with the difficulties of life. You must be your own best friend. Avoid self-criticism and practice positive talk. Don’t be overcritical and be kinder to yourself and you shall see the magic.
8. Exercise your stress away
It takes 21 days to form a habit and the best habit that you can develop to get rid of stress is exercising! Physical activity is an amazing way to manage stress, improve mental wellness as well as physical health. You can exercise at home, at the gym, outdoors or join a fitness class. There are many ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine for natural stress relief.
What’s the best way to reduce stress?
Stress is a driving factor for human survival from the time we hunted for our food. But being chronically overstressed can cause harm and should be avoided.
But if you are stressed out, any of the above-mentioned tips can help with lowering your stress levels. I recommend starting with exercising as it doesn’t just lower stress but helps distract your mind. It even helps give you a sense of achievement as a bonus.
Along with exercising, following a healthy diet is the second most important method for long-term stress relief. You can also consider ayurvedic medicines for stress relief that can help naturally lower stress levels without using harmful chemicals or steroids. These have been found to work with no known side effects and are also easy-to-use and quite affordable.
In the end, if you really want to lower your stress levels, figure out your stress-causing factors and deal with the root of the problem. Because if you don’t take care of the root cause, you will only be treating the symptoms, not the cause.