Stress is one of the leading causes of illness, with negative effects on both your body and mind. Chronic stress can contribute to autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, fatigue,
anxiety and depression, among a long list of ill effects.
Our world is filled with stressors, be it work, family, health, finances, or relationships. We all seem to be bombarded by an endless supply of stressful things. And self-care is often overlooked and even seen as a weakness to some. However, it is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and those around us. I am always counseling patients to find ways to lower their stress levels, and I am going to share a list of suggestions:
Get Rest - sleep deprivation leads to more reactions to emotionally negative stimuli, so work on better sleep and consider naps.
Meditate - this is a data-proven way to decrease your stress and anxiety; mindfulness of any sort is beneficial, so focus on music, mantras, breathing, posture, etc.
Destress Your Muscles - tense & relax different muscle groups; tense for 5-10 seconds, then relax for the same time period
Be Grateful - make a list of things for which you are grateful, as finding gratitude in even small things can lift your spirits and lower anxiety
Daily Journaling - this is a wonderful cognitive behavioral method to release negative emotions and reduce stress; add in things you are grateful for along with daily affirmations
Play with a Pet - interacting with a pet can boost serotonin & dopamine levels, and studies show improved mental health in people with pets
Yoga/Deep Breathing - more mindfulness techniques that help to effectively diminish stress
Clean Up Spaces - clean your house & work areas to give a sense of control & accomplishment, along with clarity and calmness
Be In Nature - being outside connects us to nature, and even 20 minutes outdoors walking in a park can greatly increase a sense of well-being
Play - embrace your inner child! Do fun, playful activities, and be creative (color, draw, paint, play board games, play hide & seek, etc.)
Learn To Say No - this is a self-care essential; don't overextend yourself any more
Scent Therapy - enjoy candles & essential oils that promote relaxation
Reduce Caffeine Intake - although caffeine has some beneficial properties, in excess it can increase stress
Exercise - light exercise, specifically any form of aerobic activity, for just 30 minutes 3-4 times per week will help lower stress & anxiety while improving mood
Avoid Procrastination - stay on top of tasks and the things you need to accomplish; make action lists and keep up with priorities
Laugh More - find ways to stay joyful, and surround yourself with positive people & positive situations; enjoy life!
Chew Gum - as simple as it sounds, chewing gum can help you relax & lower stress
Set Work-Life Boundaries - don't bring your work home & actually take time off from work duties, both at night & on the weekends, and most definitely when on vacation
Be Social - engage with friends & embrace social support; make time to do things with others
Consider Supplements - certain over-the-counter supplements can help with stress reduction, including Omega-3's, magnolia bark, 5-HTP, GABA, phosphatidylserine, lemon balm, ashwagandha, valerian, L-theanine, kava kava, green tea, just to mention a few.