What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word healthy? For some, it means diet and exercise. For others, it's healthy habits and lifestyle changes.
No matter what healthy means to you, there’s one common area that we all tend to forget about — stress.
What does stress have to do with being healthy? It’s simple. Being in a consistent state of stress can result in insomnia, depression, high blood pressure, problems with digestion, and more.
TEN Easy Ways to Reduce Stress
1. MAKE TIME FOR SELF CARE. When you feel stressed or overwhelmed, taking care of yourself tends to be the last thing you make time for. But making yourself a priority will help reduce stress and leave you recharged to focus on the important things in your life. Even if it’s something small, like going for a short walk, digging in the garden, or treating yourself to your favorite lunch. Take time to care for the most important person in your life- you!
2. PRACTICE GRATITUDE. Gratitude helps relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on the positive and uplifting things in your life. Start each day listing five things you’re grateful for to set your mood for the day and move forward in gratitude.
3. BREATHE DEEPLY. Deep breathing slows your heart rate and can be practiced anywhere at anytime. Try breathing for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, and then exhale for a count of 8. Repeat this for five minutes. It might feel awkward at first, but keep trying and you’ll quickly see the benefits!
4. LAUGH. Laughing make you feel good- and it’s good for your health! When you laugh, your muscles relax and your mood brightens. So read a funny book, watch a comedy, or spend some time with a friend who makes you smile.
5. MOVE YOUR BODY. Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress. Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones, improves sleep, boosts confidence, and builds muscles. You’ll look and feel good, which is a win!
6. MEDITATE. It helps you focus and quiets your stream of thoughts, leaving you feeling calm and peaceful. Meditation takes practice, and once you get into the habit, the results are transformative. Or start by taking a few moments of quiet and stillness. Not sure where to start? Try guided meditation apps like Headspace.
7. WRITE. Sometimes you just need to process what’s going on in your life and get honest with how you’re feeling. Writing can help you gain clarity and release some of the feelings you might otherwise hold inside.
8. LEARN TO SAY NO. While you can’t control many of the outside stressors of life, you can take steps to eliminate additional (and unnecessary) stress. Start by saying no to obligations that will cause additional stress, and be selective about what you say yes to. Don’t take on more than you can handle, and agree to more things that fill you life with joy.
9. GET BUSY. Find or resume a hobby that you enjoy. Sometimes you just need something to occupy your time and give your mind a break. Choose an activity that makes you feel happy and is also calming, like cooking, painting, reading, gardening, or photography.
10. LISTEN TO MUSIC. Research shows that listening to soothing music can have a profound impact on the way you feel. It can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. Conversely, you can turn up the tunes, listen to your favorite jam and sing at the top of your lungs or have a dance party for a stress-reducing endorphin boost!