Stress is an inescapable part of life. If you’re living right now, you have felt stress at some point or another. There’s no denying that. Stress also comes in many different forms. Many people often think that stress has to mean worrying about some factor in your life – be it a relationship, money troubles, or an issue that’s going on at work.
But this isn’t the only way you can become stressed. While psychological stress is definitely very prevalent in many people’s worlds, there is also physical stress that should be noted.
Each and every time you hit the gym you’re actually applying physical stress on the body. Likewise, if you happen to skip a meal because you were so busy during that day despite the fact your body was very hungry, this too is doling out stress that you then have to deal with.
Stress, in general, wears us down. It makes us feel exhausted and like we just don’t really want to deal with the demands of life. It might even make you want to curl up in a ball and not come out until the stressor is gone.
This is why learning how to deal with your stress is so important in the grand scheme of things. When you learn how to deal with stress, you can reduce the negative impacts it has on your overall health state.
What are some of those impacts? Some of the negative connotations associated with stress include:
· Higher circulating levels of cortisol, which can then cause the degradation of body tissues (especially muscle) and promote the accumulation of body fat
· Difficulty sleeping at night
· Experiencing low energy during the day
· Suffering from headaches and/or migraines
· Experiencing upset stomach or diarrhea and/or constipation and nausea
· Feeling chest pains and often times a rapid heart rate, sometimes associated with anxiety
· Having a total loss of libido
· Suffering from a weakened immune system, which will then put you at a higher risk for colds, flu, and other health conditions
· Having a poor recovery rate from injuries, cuts, bruises, etc.
· Short-tempered and easily irritated
· Feelings of low self-esteem
· Having aches and pains all over the body with a specific tightness in the chest region
· Suffering from racing thoughts
· Having poor judgment
· Feeling forgetful and disorganized
· Having no desire to hit the gym for exercise
· Suffering from grinding teeth and other dental problems
As you can see, there are a great many negative associations with stress that unless dealt with, can persist and really decrease your quality of life.
The good news is that you can avoid many, if not all of these negative side effects as long as you take steps to combat stress. Even better, you don’t have to turn to drugs to do it.
While in some cases, you may need to take anti-anxiety medication if the situation is severe enough for instance, but in most cases, you can deal with your stress all through natural treatment methods.
Let’s take a closer look now at how you can better get control over your stress and begin feeling better.
Stress Busting Tactic #1: Meditation
Perhaps the top method of naturally combating stress and getting yourself feeling better again is to get involved with meditation. Meditation has so many proven health benefits that it’s something you simply can’t afford to miss out on, stress relief being one of those.
When you meditate, you actually put your brain into a totally different state, one where delta waves are more predominant. These waves are also the same waves associated with the deepest stage of sleep, thus when you get very advanced at meditation, you can actually have sleep-like effects on the body. Many people who are very involved with meditation report having to sleep less overall hours at night to get the same rested feeling they had on more total sleep time.
You likely already know how much less stressed you feel after a good night sleep, so you can imagine how this is going to help reduce your stress levels. Meditation has also been proven to help lower cortisol levels (1), which is one of the primary leading symptoms associated with states of high stress. With cortisol levels lowered, this is going to lead to a reduced likelihood of fat accumulation as well as the loss of lean muscle mass tissue.
Start with just 5-10 minutes per day or even every other day if that’s all you can manage. Set aside some time to do this – preferably during a point in your day where you aren’t rushing around as getting into the mindset to meditate can be hard when you have a million and one things to do right after. Commit to doing it and watch to see the difference it makes in your life.
Stress Busting Tactic #2: Intense Exercise
The next method of quickly reducing stress is engaging in intense exercise training. Whether you choose to do sprint training (interval training) or give it your all with the free weights, any form of exercise that requires near maximal exertion is going to have a positive effect on reducing stress.
It does this by causing the release of endorphins in the body (2) that help to calm the mind and ease worries. Ever notice how after that hard workout, the thing you were stressing about is no longer in the forefront of your mind? This is a classic example of this.
There’s also research (3) to back what’s referred to as the ‘runners high’, which is a state where we see an opioidergic effect on the brain that causes deeper states of relaxation and improved mood.
This is one reason why many people get hooked on running and keep coming back day after day. The feeling they get after a hard run is worth any discomfort they may feel during that grueling running session itself.
The same type of situation will apply to just about any type of exercise you do provided the intensity level is high enough.
Stress Busting Tactic #3: Write In A Stress Diary
Another great way to help lower your overall stress level is to write in a stress diary. Too many people let their stress continue to build and build, all in their mind. Get it out on paper. Even the act of simply writing down what is stressing you can be quite freeing and help release it from your mind, making it less likely that you are going to ruminate about it for hours to come.
This tends to be especially beneficial for those who may be really stressed out before they go to sleep at night. If you toss and turn thinking about all the stressors you’re facing, write them down so that your mind is no longer preoccupied with them.
It only takes a few minutes and can make a world of difference.
Stress Busting Tactic #4: Avoid Caffeine And Alcohol
While many people will actually turn to alcohol as a means of dealing with stress, please take note that this is not in your best interests. While you may initially get a nice feeling of relaxation when the alcohol surges through your veins, eventually once it wears off you’ll be left feeling worse than before.
Not only will you have the stress of dealing with a hangover, but you’ll also have to face your problems head on. Not to mention, those who get into the habit of drinking regularly could actually do something to make whatever is stressing them even worse thanks to being intoxicated.
For example, if you’re stressed out because of a fight you had with your significant other, being intoxicated could make you even more confrontational and say things you don’t mean, causing even bigger fights to erupt.
Caffeine is another thing you’ll want to avoid. Some people turn to this to help give them an energy boost as they feel lethargic because of all that stress. Caffeine may give you a surge in energy, but it can also cause your heart rate to increase and feelings of anxiety to go up as well.
For optimal stress reduction, you’re better off avoiding both of these things entirely.
Stress Busting Tactic #5: Call Up A Friend
Social support has been proven (4) to help decrease stress and feelings of anxiety associated with it. Those who have strong supportive social network tend to show greater resilience when faced with stressful times and, generally speaking, have a higher overall health profile as well.
Research published in the APA PsycNET journal noted that those who have a high degree of social support may notice they require a reduced amount of medication required, have accelerated recovery, and may also have greater compliance with prescribed medical regimes as well.
All in all, it pays to call up that friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. It’s very easy for us all to get busy with life but this busy pace is no excuse for losing our social connections. Make an effort and it will reward you.
Stress Busting Tactic #6: Get A Day Planner
One of the major stressors that most people will report is simply having a lack of time to get stuff done. We all get just 24 hours in a day but most of us wish there were 25 or 26. If you feel like you’re on a treadmill that’s constantly moving slightly faster than you can run, there’s no question this is going to cause you some stress over time.
Unfortunately, time related stress is not something you can resolve. You will always only get 24 hours in a day and short of just not sleeping (which isn’t recommended!), there’s not much else you can do about it.
This said, you can learn to manage your time better, which should help you feel more in control over your day and help minimize some of that stress as best as possible.
The top method of achieving this is to start using a day planner. By writing down all your appointments as well as things on your to-do list, you’ll be that much better able to knock things off one by one without getting side-tracked or stuck wasting time.
Too many people don’t know ‘what’s next’ after they finish one task so they sit there, wasting precious moments browsing social media feeds, random internet sites, or just sitting and chatting when they should be getting things done.
While there’s nothing wrong per say with talking to other people or catching up on your Instagram feed, it can become problematic when you aren’t able to get things done during the day because you’re doing this. Schedule time for that – and keep it to that time. The rest of the time, work hard. That will help resolve your time-related stress issues.
Stress Busting Tactic #7: Give Yourself Permission To Stop And Rest
Which brings us now to our next stress busting strategy, giving yourself permission to stop and rest. Too many of us are go, go, go from morning until night – we rarely stop and rest. Instead, we have this need to be highly productive.
While if you are trying to climb the corporate ladder or achieve other successes in your life, this is a beneficial trait because it forces you to work hard and be ultra-productive, in terms of minimizing stress, it’s far less than ideal.
It’s time to give yourself permission to stop and rest – to take a breather. Stop and ‘smell the roses’ so to speak. Remember that if you never give yourself time to do this, you’re never giving the brain a chance to relax and unwind. This can not only lead to extra tension developing in the mind, but it can also lead to racing thoughts. These are often going to come out when you try and sleep at night, so if you’re tossing and turning, this could be another solution.
Start by stopping periodically throughout the day and think about whatever it is that your mind wants to think about. Let yourself daydream. We associate daydreaming as being lazy or not an ambitious trait but there is something to be said for setting a time for just that. It really can help you be more productive the rest of the day because you’ll be more mentally prepared to do so. You won’t be stressed out and distracted because of this.
So try to carve out 10-15 minutes each day where you can do just that. Whether it’s in a hot bath at night as you relax and unwind or before you get ready for work. Slow down for even just a little bit and see how much better you begin to feel.
Stress Busting Tactic #8: Supplement With A Quality Digestive Enzyme
Finally, the last way to help combat stress is to supplement with a good quality digestive enzyme. Now, this won’t help you combat stress directly in terms of reducing the stress that you are experiencing. But it will help you in an indirect sense.
When you supplement with digestive enzymes, you do two things.
First, you absorb your nutrients better. Many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are involved in the stress response, so the higher your intake is of these, the better you’ll be able to deal with any stress that is perceived.
And second, by supplementing with a digestive enzyme, you’ll naturally have more energy because your body will be utilizing the energy from foods better as well. The more energy you have, the more you may find you feel like tackling whatever it is that is stressing you.
All in all, a good digestive enzyme such as MassZymes helps you be more prepared to handle any stress that comes your way, quickly dealing with it and eliminating it from troubling you.
So there you have the most important factors to know and remember about handling stress. Stress is something that can really zap the life out of you, so to speak. So finding a way to handle stress as quickly as possible when it comes on is important.
By using these tips and techniques, you should be able to gain control over your stress and start living your best life. You don’t necessarily have to use all of these strategies. Pick and choose which ones you feel will work the best for you. Soon it will become more apparent which ones help you to see optimal results.
(1). Turakitwanakan, Wanpen, Chantana Mekseepralard, and Panaree Busarakumtragul. “Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students.” Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand= Chotmaihet thangphaet 96 (2013): S90-5.
(2). Edenfield, Teresa M., and James A. Blumenthal. “Exercise and stress reduction.” The handbook of stress science: Biology, psychology, and health 301 (2011): 319.
(3). Boecker, Henning, et al. “The runner’s high: opioidergic mechanisms in the human brain.” Cerebral Cortex 18.11 (2008): 2523-2531.
(4). Cobb, Sidney. “Social support as a moderator of life stress.” Psychosomatic medicine (1976).