Stress is bad for you – it’s bad for your mood and it’s bad for your body. Stress releases the hormone cortisol – sometimes called the hunger hormone. Continued stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or obesity. If you control your stress, you’re on your way to a healthier you.
Here are 5 Strategies to Reduce Stress
1. Take A Deep Breath
Literally. Concentrate on your breathing and put your hand on your stomach. Now inhale slowly through your nose. Feel your breath starting in your stomach and feel it rise to the top of your head. Now, reverse the process and exhale. Another breathing tip to calm you is four-square. Breathe in to a count of four; hold your breath for another four count. Now, exhale to a four count and hold your breath again for a four count. Do it – you guessed it – four times. Another trick is to visualize your breathing. Think of positive emotions – joy, friendship, love – coming into you as you inhale and negative emotions like anger and stress leaving on the exhale.
Picture yourself in your favorite place. Imagine the ocean lapping at the sand or the feel of sitting on the grass in a beautiful meadow. It’s called guided imagery and you can use audiotapes, self-help articles, books, or a teacher to guide you to your happy spot and reduce your stress.
3. Call A Friend Or Family Member
We’re not talking about going online; we’re talking face-to-face or at least voice-to-voice over the phone. Make sure you seek out a positive person to share your concerns with and one with a great sense of humor. You may come up with a solution to your current problem – or, at least, share a good laugh. Seriously, your social network is an example of the best tools for handling stress.
4. Be Present
Focus on your senses. Step outside and listen carefully – what do you hear? What do you smell? How does the air feel on your face? Taking a walk is a great idea (exercise helps) so concentrate on the feeling of your feet hitting the ground. Pick one behavior and concentrate on it for 5 minutes.
Being active is a good way to change the chemicals inside your brain. Lack of serotonin can result in anxiety, but physical exercise can increase serotonin levels. Get a run, dig the garden, or go to the gym. You will find that your body feels great, the mind is stimulated and your levels of serotonin and dopamine increase. This leads to lower anxiety minimizing depression as well.
If stress has already had a negative effect on your life, make a change. If stress has contributed to making you overweight or even obese – and, now, your weight and your health concerns are keeping you stressed, think about starting a diet at a medical weight loss center. The above tips can help you live a stress-free life. You’ll have the advantage of professional support, medical supervision, and a quick start that may make an immediate difference in your health and make you downright joyful.