Stress is so prevalent in our day to day lives that we often don’t realise the effects it has on our mental and physical health. Managing stress is something that I believe should be taught to us in junior school and continue to be encouraged as we grow up. This might actually prevent us from many of the stress-induced illnesses that are so prevalent today.
Stress is something that will always be a part of our lives. We have families, traffic, full-time jobs, rising food prices and unforeseen circumstances, so there is simply no way to avoid it. What we do have control over is our reaction to the stress in our life and there are many techniques we can use to manage those reactions. Some you can do while sitting at the office or in traffic, while others may take a bit more planning and time.
1. Laugh. Laughter reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) and boosts the brains production of endorphins (the feel good hormones). Put on a CD of your favourite comedian, ask friends to tell you a joke, or watch a sitcom. Even if you have to fake laughter to begin with, it will soon turn into real laughter and give you a break from those stressful thoughts and feelings.
2. Be present. Take a moment to be grateful for all the good things in your life. Writing a list of about 5 things in a journal is a great habit to form and it might help you to see the bigger picture. Gratitude allows you to slow down and be present and can help you feel less tense.
3. Move your body. Plenty of scientific research has linked physical exercise with improved mood, self-esteem and reduce stress. Healthy forms of exercise make us feel good by causing the release of brain chemicals called endorphins. It also encourages the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which reverses the harmful effects of stress. So, next time you feel stressed and anxious take yourself for a brisk walk.
4. Try essential oils. Our sense of smell is very tightly connected to our emotional regulating centre. To reduce stress you should keep a few bottles of essential oils at the office and splash a few drops on your wrists when a stressful moment occurs. Lavender, Jasmine, Frankincense and Chamomile are some of the best ones to use for this.
5. Have sex. Sex is a brilliant stress reliever as you release oxytocin following orgasm. This hormone is responsible for making you feel content, safe, relaxed and engaged. Orgasm also causes the body to flush out cortisol, the hormone that is produced when we are under stress.