Foods can help tame stress in several ways. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm oatmeal, boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. Other foods can cut levels of cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that take a toll on the body over time. A healthy diet can help counter the impact of stress by shoring up the immune system and lowering blood pressure. Do you know which foods are stress busters?
Destress with exercise! Besides changing your diet, one of the best stress-busting strategies is to start exercising. Aerobic exercise boosts oxygen circulation and spurs your body to make feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week. If you're not active now, tell your health care provider you're going to start exercising -- they'll root for you and make sure you're ready to get moving.
When you work up a sweat, you improve your mood, clear your head, and take a break from whatever is stressing you out. Whether you like a long walk or an intense workout at the gym, you’ll feel uplifted after!
Tell a Friend
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, seek out the company of a friend or loved one. Have a friend who’s dealing with the same worries as you? Even more reason to open up. You'll both feel less alone.
Write Your Stress Away
Jotting down your thoughts can be a great emotional outlet. Once they're on paper, you can start working out a plan to resolve them. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer pen and notebook, a phone app, or a file on your laptop. The important thing is that you’re honest about your feelings.
Be Kind to Yourself
We all have a constant stream of thoughts running through our heads, and sometimes what we tell ourselves isn’t so nice. Staying positive and using compassionate self-talk will help you calm down and get a better grip on the situation. Talk to yourself in the same gentle, encouraging way you’d help a friend in need. “Everything will be OK,” for instance, or "I'll figure out how to handle this."
Smile Like You Mean It
Don’t roll your eyes the next time someone advises you to “grin and bear it.” In times of tension, keeping a smile on your face – especially a genuine smile that’s formed by the muscles around your eyes as well as your mouth – reduces your body’s stress responses, even if you don’t feel happy. Smiling can actually 'trick' your brain into thinking it's happy!
Break Out the Bubble Gum
Next time you’re at the end of your rope, unwrap a stick of gum. According to studies, chewing gum lowers anxiety and eases stress. Some researchers think the rhythmic act of chewing may improve blood flow to your brain, while others believe the smell and taste help you relax.
One of my favourite ways to combat stress is just by simply getting outside! Spending time outdoors, even close to home, is linked to better well-being. You're in a natural setting, and you're usually doing something active, like walking or hiking. Even a few minutes can make a difference in how you feel.
Sniff Some Lavender
Certain scents like lavender offer soothing effects for our nervous systems. In one study, nurses who pinned small vials of lavender oil to their clothes felt their stress ease, while nurses who didn’t reported higher levels of stress. Lavender may intensify the effect of some painkillers and anti-anxiety medications, so if you’re taking either, check with your healthcare provider first!
Reboot Your Breath
Feeling less stressed is as close as your next breath. Focusing on your breath curbs your body’s “fight or flight” reaction to pressure or fear, and it pulls your attention away from negative thoughts. Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting your chest and lower belly rise and your abdomen expand. Breathe out just as slowly, repeating a word or phrase that helps you relax. To reap the most benefit, repeat for at least 10 minutes.