There’s no avoiding it – life is going to hand you stress. But the way we manage that stress is totally in our control. Whether stress comes from emotional, physical, or environmental sources, managing stress is important so that it doesn’t consume our lives. Since April is Stress Awareness Month, we’re providing three ways to manage stress that might also have positive changes in your well-being.
3 Types of Stress
Emotional stress can vary in degree – from a bad day at work to a death in the family. And though emotional stress is situational, the physical effects are very real. According to the American Psychological Association, emotional stress can have negative effects on everything from the cardiovascular system to the digestive system.
Physical stress is more commonly associated with strenuous physical activity like exercise or other physical labor. While our workouts can be managed, many people can’t avoid the stress of a labor-intensive job.
Everything from the air we breathe to the food we eat can be responsible for environmental stress. Smog from living in large, dense cities or insufficient nutrient intake can put additional stress on the body. When you don’t get the clean air or proper nutrition your body needs, you can feel the effects.
Methods of Management
Many people will claim that exercise helps “clear the mind.” There is also a real physical effect taking place during exercise as it relates to stress:
Endorphins. Endorphins are your brain’s feel-good hormones and exercise helps ramp up their production. Some people describe this feeling as a “runner’s high” and it’s a fantastic way to help erode the stress of a hard day.
Cognition. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that exercise can help lower stress and improve overall cognitive function. Try walking your dog for 30 minutes the next time you’re feeling stressed. A bit of exercise is good for the body and good for the mind.
Proper nutrition is just as important as exercise when managing stress. Adding more high-fiber foods, like whole fruits and vegetables, to your daily intake can help fight the urge for late-night binging on unhealthy snacks. But remember, try to not put pressure on yourself to lose weight quickly – that can just become frustrating.
For emotional stress, meditation can help purge the mind after a hard day’s work or traumatic event – helping you recover and move forward. The beauty of meditation is that for most people, it can be done in 5-10 minutes and you can use a smartphone app to guide you along the way.
In addition to reducing stress, dedicating just a few minutes each day to meditation can help improve concentration, increase happiness, and has been said to slow aging. Some of the world’s most successful people practice meditation, as they often deal with more stress than the average person.
Using these tips to help keep your stress levels at bay can help you experience relaxation on a regular basis. The less time you spend focusing on your stress the more time you will have to do what you want to do to relax, such as spending time with your family and friends.