Stress is an inevitable part of life, and it can even be a good thing sometimes. Stress lets us know when something is wrong and how to act accordingly. Unfortunately, most of the time stress does more harm than good, seriously impacting our mental and physical health. The stress hormone, cortisol, causes an increase in heart rate, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Prolonged stress leads to a consistent increase in these three areas, eventually leading to high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, and a number of other serious health issues. So how can we prevent stress from causing serious health issues?
#1: Create Art
This could be a painting, writing a poem, or even playing an instrument. Creative outlets are a great way to relax the mind and relieve stress. Sometimes it’s hard to put certain feelings into words (even for adults) and art is a great way to release those feelings. Some people may feel that they are not creative enough, but just the act of creating art, music, or writing is enough to bring stress levels down. Becoming immersed in the creative process allows our minds to forget about stressors and instead come into a somewhat meditative state.
Walking and jogging are both good ways to relieve stress too. Physical activity has been known to help reduce stress, as well as the many negative effects caused by stress. Both allow you to burn calories, tone your legs, and decrease your risk for heart disease. Walking or jogging also allows you to clear your mind after a long day of work, school, or just after a long day in general. Listening to music, an audio book, or a podcast during your walk or run also helps to further clear your mind and take it off of stressful thoughts.
Stretching, yoga, and meditation all help to clear your mind and focus on your breathing. Deep breathing exercises are also known to relieve stress, and combined with movement, it provides both physical and mental health benefits. When we’re stressed, we typically hold tension in our muscles, specifically our necks, shoulders, backs, and even our heads. Stretching allows us to lengthen our muscles and can even help reduce tension from headaches. When we’re stretching, we’re focused on breathing which also distracts us from the stressors around us.
#4: Relax with Aromatherapy
Sometimes, the best way to relieve stress is to just take a break. A nice, warm bath with essential oils (either added to the water or in a diffuser) can help relax both the mind and the body. As mentioned above, when we’re stressed we hold tension, and a warm bath can help relieve some of that tension in our bodies. Pair that with essential oils, the aromatic scents can help relax the mind too. Some of the best essential oils for relaxation include lavender, eucalyptus, chamomile, cedarwood, and bergamot.
#5: Enjoy a Leisure Activity
This includes creative activities and walking, but it also includes things like sports, gardening, fishing, hiking, reading, and even watching TV. Leisure activities are the things that you enjoy doing the most, the things that bring you the most peace. Leisure activities mean something different to everyone, but it’s usually a hobby that you do to help you relax. Some leisure activities, such as fishing, also double as a physical activity and a relaxing activity. It’s also an activity that anyone at any level can enjoy and become successful in as long as you are willing to learn the basics like how to use a spinning reel.
Because stress is a natural part of life, there’s not much that we can do to avoid it. Instead, we must manage it and not let it consume us, causing physical and mental health problems. It may be hard to incorporate many of these activities into a busy lifestyle, but just about anyone can start with deep breathing techniques, or even stretching in the morning or at night. But don’t stress out over not being able to do all of these activities— even something as simple as relaxing with aromatherapy can lower your stress levels.