Simple Ways to Reduce Stress

Every now and then I am reminded of how powerful an impact stress can have on our lives, and how all stress ultimately leads to the same effect.

What I mean by this is that whether your stress comes from over-exercising, worrying, working long hours, living in a busy city, too much light or too little sleep our bodies react the same way. To our mind stress is stress and it doesn’t matter how we get it the results are simular:

  • Fat Gain (especially visceral fat)
  • Psychological Problems (depression, anxiety, mind racing)
  • Sleep Problems
  • Lethargy and Fatigue

The list goes on….. Our bodies don’t mind acute stress, in fact it is essential (see eustress) from things like short and brief workouts and solving everyday problems from things that we ‘want’ to do. The problem comes when we are under chronic stress coming from all areas/directions(diet, lifestyle, jobs etc).

These things are becoming harder and harder to avoid but there are a few simple changes we can make to reduce our everyday stressors.

Less Pollution and More Fresh Air….. This is one for all of those in cities (big or small). Pollution can have a profound effect on our health, new studies are showing that daily exposure to a polluted environment can lead to increased inflammation.

“This is one of the first, if not the first, study to show that these fine particulates directly cause inflammation and changes in fat cells, both of which increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes”

Of course we cannot avoid pollution all together, but the more time we spend in outdoor and fresh air environments the better. Spend your weekends in the park not the city center.

More Reading and Less TV….. Television has come such a huge part of everyones life. Don’t get me wrong I love the odd TV show and watch 1-2 movies a week, but it has been a long time since my evening were spent behing a TV. Reading is the best alternative as it acts to calm the mind and is a far more intellectually stimulating task.

Find a Genre you like, get the Kindle app for your mobile device, anything that will encourage you to read. It is hard to get back into reading at first, but it is the first step in re-programming a more relaxed mind.

More Deep Breathing and Less Rushing Around…… Once a day lay on your back and breathe deeply for a few minutes. This not only slows the mind but relaxes the internal organs and allows them to function properly. Try to plan ahead and manage time properly, the stress of getting somewhere late is never worth it.

More Gratitude and Less Complaining….. We are all guilty of focusing on what is wrong in our lives rather than what is right. When things are getting tough or going wrong make a list of 5 things you are grateful for. This can do a lot to change a negative mindset, much more than complaining/worrying could ever do. Grab a small notebook and create a Gratitude list.

“I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn’t possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know.” – Elizabeth Edwards

Whatever situation we are in we all have something to be grateful for.

More Real Food and Less Junk….. Eating should be simple, the fact that things have gotten more complicated in terms of ‘what to eat’ has put even more stress into our lives. The basic premise is eat more real food – Cook at home, use real ingredients, eat fruit and veg, enjoy.

Junk food can be very stressful for the body – it is hard to digest, contains toxins, causes inflammation and is generally best kept as a treat or eaten in moderation. If you eat enough real food you wont crave junk anyway….. See Eating Healthfully.

If only it was simple to cut down on stress, unfortunately it is not always the case. It is important we are aware of what is stressful, awareness is the key to unlocking a reduced stress life. Implementing small lifestyle changes is the next part of stress management…..

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