It’s an unfortunate reality that we all face at one point or another: stress. Whether you’ve got relationship worries, deadlines at work, or just a busy schedule to worry about, we all have a reason to be stressed. However, establishing healthy stress reducing techniques and avoiding unhealthy habits are what’s really important to minimize stress in the future and sustain the health of both your mind and body.
Here are 3 do’s and don’ts of dealing with stress:
DON’T stress eat
You have to admit, grabbing a bite of your favorite sweet when you’re feeling stressed is instantly satisfying and there is even scientific proof that fatty foods quickly reduce stress and cause instant gratification. But, our bodies crave calories in stressful situations with the expectation of burning them soon afterwards, and instead our stress over work or finances often involves a lot of sitting around, resulting in a lot of stored fat.
DO work out
Remember when your gym teacher told you about the endorphins that your body releases when you exercise? Well they can be key to fixing your stressful feelings. Whether it’s cardio or a game of tennis, the endorphins your body release cause a “runner’s high” and stimulate the same areas in your brain as when you eat high-calorie food. Plus, they help you sleep better at night, which means less stress tomorrow.
Pro tip: If you don’t have time to hit the gym, research has found that even a brisk walk can improve mood.
DON’T drink the problems away
While we often see characters in TV and movies go to the nearest bar after a stressful day, just like with food, associating stress with an unhealthy habit can be dangerous in the long run. Alcohol can actually increase stress from the toll it takes on a person’s body and can alter a person’s brain chemistry in a way that makes it harder to deal with stressful situations.
DO hydrate yourself
One often-overlooked cause of excess stress is dehydration. With a busy schedule, it can be easy to forget to drink water. Studies have found that levels of cortisol, a stress hormone in your body, are especially sensitive to your levels of hydration.
DON’T take a long nap
A major contributor to stress is lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation makes you easily agitated and more likely to make simple mistakes. While the long-term fix for this problem is more sleep at night, a short-term fix is a nap. However, when you take long naps, your body goes into deep levels of sleep that are hard to wake up from. Plus, once they are becoming hours long instead of minutes long, it takes time out of your sleep at night, messing up your sleep patterns.
DO take a power nap
Just because you can’t take a long nap, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t nap at all. Psychologists have determined that the perfect length of a reenergizing power nap is twenty minutes and has the ability to not only improve stress management abilities, but also improve attention, alertness, and overall mood. Powernaps end before you get into deep levels of sleep, so you wake up feeling refreshed rather than groggy.
Pro tip: sleep with your arm dangling towards the floor and hold your keys. By the time your body relaxes enough to drop the keys and wake you up, your powernap should be complete.
In the comments, tell us, how do you relieve stress?
Amy Shuler is a writer, kale enthusiast, and lover of all things yoga. She also adores good food, funny movies, and running outdoors. Amy is from Westchester, New York and is currently pursing a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies at Boston College. She hopes to one day work to help impoverished and troubled individuals achieve more comfortable lifestyles.