Taking care of yourself spans all areas of your life: your health, relationships and your career. There are many times in life when we could all benefit from taking a step back and looking at which area of our life is causing us stress. Understanding the different types of stress and how to reduce ‘bad stress’ is beneficial to your physical, emotional and mental health. And in turn your relationships, career and life as a whole.
You’ll commonly hear people talking about ‘good stress’, or eustress, which is a type of stress where you feel motivated or “pushed” positively towards a goal or outcome. To identify this type of stress in your life, think about a stressful situation from which you’ve gained fulfilment or satisfaction. This is the type of stress which causes us to thrive and achieve amazing things!
When we talk about ‘bad stress’, this is about psychological stress. You may feel overwhelmed by pressure or strain for long periods of time. You may have a lack of feeling fulfilment. When this persists it can develop into chronic stress. This is where things start to get a little hairy.
Most of us have a little (or a lot) of “bad stress” in our lives. And it has a direct impact on our emotional and physical health. In fact, chronic stress leads to heart problems, high blood pressure, adrenal fatigue, lowered immune response, diabetes, infertility and more. But not to worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are a number of fun and relaxing ways to learn to lower your stress levels.
Our Top Tips to Stress Less:
- Yoga: Connecting breath to movement is a powerful way to bring awareness into your body, helping you to release tension. If you’re new to yoga, try a restorative or yin class.
- Meditation: Training your mind and body to be calm in stressful situations can be achieved through a regular meditation practice. Meditation calms the fight-or-flight response that heightens cortisol levels (a stress hormone), and directs your body to the rest-and-digest state where cortisol levels are stabilized. And what does that mean? Less stress.
- Communing with nature: Try a walk through the park, a forest or even just sitting outside in your backyard. Getting some fresh air and sunlight will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
- Antioxidant-rich foods: Blackberries, blueberries and blackcurrants give your body tools to fight off the oxidative damage (i.e. stress) that happens from environmental free radicals.
- Sauna: Sweating has long been considered a cleansing experience for body and soul. Sweat out those toxins and find yourself feeling relaxed and ready for a delicious night’s sleep. Both dry sauna’s and infrared are great options.
- Exercise: Working up a sweat while exercising has the added bonus of increasing serotonin and tryptophan function in your brain. This results in you feeling happier and healthier.
- Sex: Last but not least, sex. You can count it as another form of exercise but it does so much more than just get your heart rate up. It’s a fantastic mood enhancer and the cuddling that often follows can boost oxytocin levels which have been shown to reduce fear and anxiety.
Wondering how to start? We suggest trying a yin yoga class at your local yoga studio, or online. We’ve also put together a yoga for adrenal fatigue guide which has all the poses you need to melt that stress away, from the comfort of your own home.
Here’s to stressing less!
Photo by Femke Leemans