4 Healthy Ways To Decrease Stress

4 Healthy Ways To Decrease Stress

Stress is a part of daily life, but the happiest people in the world don't necessarily experience less stress - they're just better at dealing with it. 

Stress statistics show "74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. 81% of women said this compared to 67% of men. 83% of 18-24 year-olds said this compared to 65% of people aged 55 and over" – Here are some answers on how to improve your stress levels.

In order to understand stress, we have to first understand our stress response - better known as our fight or flight response, which is something we all share with all the mammals on earth - which is the electrical and biochemical activity inside our bodies.

We're not at our best when we're in a fight or flight mode, and the stress gets worse when it's chronic (long-lasting). We are more likely to make poorer decisions and underperform at work or in any given daily task.

Research suggests that stressing about feeling stressed is in fact worse for our health than the stress itself. Your stress responses are only meant for short bursts of up to 30 minutes. Whenever a zebra runs from a lion it either falls to defeat or outruns the lion and gets to safety. The vast majority of the threats we perceive as humans today do not actually pose a threat to our long-term health or survival. However, the brain reacts to a perceived threat by triggering a fight or flight, no matter if the fear is from a life-threatening situation or your boss giving you a hard time at work

As opposed to the zebra, which will return to a routine after a threat, we humans have a tendency to replay the stressful event over and over again or to self-sabotage. Research shows replaying negative thoughts in our minds can have a big impact on our mental health and lead to chronic stress.

The people who thrive under pressure are those who don't see difficulties as fixed obstacles but rather as opportunities to grow - with this mindset, your brain find solutions. There's lots of evidence that shows how our perception of a situation affects the outcome. The question is how do we go about achieving this?

 Here Are 5 Key Points To Stress Management

1. Self-compassion

According to research, self-compassion actually helps us to perform better and to hold ourselves to a higher standard as compared to people who are very critical of themselves. Being positive and improving your self-talk can potentially contribute to better end results – Mayo Clinic provide great detail in how to achieve this.

2. Sleep

When you do not get sufficient sleep, you are more likely to experience negative effects of stress as a result. When we do not sleep enough (less than 7 hours of sleep per night), the fight or flight response is triggered.

3. Exercise

Physical activity can lower overall stress levels and improve your mental and physical health. When you exercise regularly, you reduce tension, anxiety, anger, and mild depression that are often linked to stress. It can improve the quality of your sleep, which can be negatively impacted by stress, Your worries can also be soothed by physical activity. When you exercise, you focus on your body rather than your mind. Working out with a focus on your movements offers many of the same benefits as meditation.

Almost any form of exercise can aid fitness and reduce stress. However, it's better to choose an activity you enjoy rather than one you dread. Swimming isn't for everyone. If you don't like water don't do it. Runners who are anxious about running will not find a 5K race as a stress reliever. Discover what you like by trying a variety of things. Maintaining an exercise routine will be easier if you have fun. 

4. Caffeine consumption

Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline (the survival mechanism of fight or flight) which then removes rational thinking in favour of a faster response. While this is great when a lion is chasing you, it's not so great when you're answering emails. Too much caffeine can potentially put the brain and body into a state of hyper-arousal, increasing irritability and causing stress and anxiety.

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