5 Ways to Reduce Stress
Rashma Jhunja, MD, Stamford Health Medical Group
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If you feel stress, know you’re not alone. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. When untreated, it can contribute to mental and physical health concerns like heart disease, obesity, and depression. Read on to understand your possible triggers and symptoms and learn ways to improve your well-being.
What causes stress?
There are three common types of stress, including:
- Routine stress from pressure due to daily responsibilities, work, or family
- Stress after a sudden negative change like divorce, illness, or job loss
- Traumatic stress after experiencing a terrifying event like violence or a situation where your life was in danger
Am I stressed?
People experience stress differently. You may have stress if you have:
Reduce your stress
Find relief from stress with these five mindful practices you can do daily or as often as you need them.
- Plan your day
Plan whatever you can control, and allow yourself time to adjust to stressors you can’t control. Take five to ten minutes each morning to:
-Know your schedule for the day
-Prioritize what must get done
-Create time for mental and physical breaks
- Take time to relax
Events will likely happen throughout the day that can cause stress. You prevent and reduce stress when you:
-Perform breathing exercises
-Practice daily, mindful meditation
-Take a bath
-Establish a sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night
- Eat healthily
Nutrition plays an important role in your overall health. When you eat fewer processed foods and more whole foods, you can lower your level of cortisol. This hormone regulates your sleep, reduces inflammation, and controls your blood pressure. Certain foods can reduce cortisol to help you feel your best such as:
-Foods that are high in vitamin B, like beef, chicken and eggs
-Foods with omega-3 fatty acid, like avocados, walnuts, salmon and olive oil
-Foods with high protein, like almonds, quinoa, shrimp and eggs
Avoid foods that can cause stress by increasing your cortisol levels, like alcohol, caffeine, sugary foods and soda.
- Be active
When you increase your fitness level, you decrease your stress. That’s because exercise causes your body to produce endorphins, natural chemicals in your brain that lift your mood. Start moving more each day by doing something you love, like:
-Practicing Pilates or yoga
-Joining a group fitness class
- Socialize with friends and family
Ever hear that laughter is the best medicine? Gift yourself and someone you love with a smile by taking time to connect each day. You’ll reduce your risk of depression and the feeling of loneliness. Enjoy improving your memory and cognitive skills when you:
-Share a daily joke with someone
-Trade fun facts among friends
-Ask a family member to lunch
-Begin a book club online with people who share similar interests
Get treatment for stress
When it comes to stress and the impact on your health, turn to Stamford Health’s primary care and mental health specialists. You’ll benefit from the compassionate expertise of a medical professional who can help you recognize and cope with stress.