No one is immune to stress. Stress can be a major factor in many health issues. Indeed, research shows that of all illness and disease, up to 90% of it is related to or induced by stress.
Anything that you consider to be overwhelming is referred to as stress. Although the definition is broad and specific to each individual, the negative health consequences are well-defined. Stress-relieving activities should be a regular component of one’s daily routine if one wants to live a better and happier life. Stress and how it affects one individual may be quite different from how it affects another. Fortunately, there are certain activities that will aid in the reduction of stress, without regard to the source.
Meditation promotes a condition of heightened awareness or concentrated focus. The practice of meditation has been found to help reduce the negative effects of stress and to assist the body’s ability to cope with and adapt to stress as it occurs.
The nice thing about meditation, which most people are unaware of, is that any technique or collection of techniques encourages the required focused attention. Meditation is usually associated with sitting in solitude and doing breathing exercises. While those can be forms of meditation, so can cleaning, taking a walk, or having particular times set aside for whatever you do with “extreme presence” (such as daily tasks); it qualifies as meditation as long as you bring highly focused attention to the task at hand.
Meditation allows a person to be present in the moment while also strengthening and endurance training the mind. When individuals go through the day on autopilot, it becomes a cycle in and of itself, and people become detached from their bodies and the impact of what’s going on inside them. So it goes with the cycle. Trying to disrupt or break the cycle by incorporating times throughout the day when you set aside even just five minutes of meditation could be enough to reunite you to your body and better adapt to the stress you’re experiencing, perceive varying options available that would better support your health and wellbeing, and providing opportunities to conscientiously choose differently.
It’s critical to schedule downtime into your day. Western civilization is fast-paced and always on the move. Days frequently begin at or before 6 a.m. and conclude well after 10 p.m. Instead of attempting to find three hours to do something in that timeframe, set up two or three times per day where you can takejust 5- to 10-minute breaks. Play with your dog on the floor, walk outside and play catch with your child (or the neighbor’s child), make time to greet and converse with your spouse (uninterrupted) when they arrive home, or simply have a seat in silence and take a deep breath to center and refocus your mind.
The key is that you can do whatever you want with this downtime as long as it’s purposeful and includes connection, whether it’s with yourself or with someone you care about. These brief respites halt or stop the stress cycle by providing a sense of connection between the heart and mind, which helps to counteract the harmful consequences of stress.
Spending Time Outside
We live in a convenient and modern society while we live in Western culture. It’s all too easy to reject or disregard the importance of spending time in nature. To begin with, the planet actually supports every part of human existence. The earth is necessary for our existence. It would seem logical to spend some time with it, venturing outside in nature to interact with it simply because it is a necessary part of life. Vitamin D is required by the body, and we obtain it by spending reasonable amounts of time in the sun. Many people have low amounts of vitamin D, and while some of this is due to poor gut health, another factor that must be missed is that our culture today spends significantly less time outside.
The rising and setting of the sun, the seasons, and so on are all examples of natural rhythms. Depending on where you live, the rhythms are varied. There is a stress-relieving and wellness-supporting element that naturally emerges when you spend time in nature on a regular basis, calibrating with those natural rhythms. Spending two to three hours in nature two to three times per week helps the body function at its best and reduces the effects of stress.
Make Time for Exercise
Stress can take a serious toll on the body. One way to reduce these negative affects is to exercise. Muscle tension is a common symptom of stress that can be managed with a healthy stretching & exercise regimen. Keeping your body in shape doesn’t only reduce the harmful consequences of stress. Studies show that exercise actually decreases stress.
Exercise has been proven to release positive endorphins by stimulating the dopamine receptors in our brains. Ever heard of what’s known as a “runner’s high”? This phenomenon is due to very process of dopamine being released after extended physical exertion. For some, running is the most effective way to manage stress. However, it is important to note that running is a high-impact exercise, and you should consult with your chiropractor or family doctor before incorporating running into your exercise routine. You should also be sure to use the proper footwear for running.
Getting Good Sleep
Nothing affects our overall health, wellbeing, and stress levels more than the amount of proper sleep we receive. Studies have shown that individuals who don’t get the proper amount of sleep, between 7 and 9 hours, can suffer from a wide range of health problems.
Not getting enough sleep regularly (at least 7 hours) can contribute to heart disease, dementia, and even cancer. Be mindful an hour before you sleep – don’t look at your phone, turn off your tv, and turn off the lights. Practice a sleep meditation. All of these techniques have proven highly beneficial to those having trouble getting a full night of rest.
While not getting enough sleep can certainly be detrimental to your health, oversleeping can also cause serious problems for your wellbeing. Oversleeping can cause increased inflammation in the body, lead to chronic diseases, and even decease your immune function. Other potential complications can include frequent mental distress, obesity, diabetes, and stroke. Setting a regular sleep schedule, creating a bedtime routine, and keeping active are all effective ways to help prevent oversleeping.
Stress is a part of everyone’s life. Stress has a negative impact on the body’s health and is linked to the majority of illnesses and disorders in some way. Making lifestyle modifications allows for an improved quality of life and function, as well as interrupting or stopping the overarching stress cycle that many people experience.
Consistently practicing meditation, creating downtime, spending time outdoors, exercising, and getting a full night of sleep are five ways to manage stress and improve your lifestyle that that require no money and little time. Given that money and time are generally the two most common excuses given to justify not doing something, there is no excuse to not take a few minutes each day to manage your stress and improve your overall wellbeing.
You know you have stress, and you know that it negatively affects your health. Here are five practices that you can utilize today to help overcome the effects of stress & promote a happier, healthier you.