April is National Stress Awareness Month, an ideal time to evaluate your stress and consider how you’re managing it. While “I’m so stressed out” might be one of the more common phrases used today, stress is no joke. Stress takes a significant toll over time, and left unchecked, it can lead to a number of serious health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The good news is, once you’re aware of your stress, you can do something to combat it. Keep reading for a list of the best stress management tactics and why massage is one of them.
Stress – the good, the bad, and the ugly
Stress is basically a physical response. When you sense danger, the body swiftly switches into “fight or flight mode,” and, according to the Stress Management Society, releases “a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action.”
This stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. It’s what can help save your life in an emergency situation, such as quickly slamming on the brakes to avoid an accident. In less extreme conditions, stress can help you rise to the occasion and keep you alert and engaged during a presentation at work or sharpen your focus.
After a certain point, stress stops being helpful. Consistent high-stress triggers such as job insecurity, marital problems, or frustration with the dog can not only wreak havoc with your mood but also have long-lasting negative effects on your health and quality of life.
How to cope with stress?
While all this talk about stress might admittedly be, a bit stressful, we have some good news. You can take back your peace of mind and reduce your stress levels in the comfort of your own home.
1. Massage as a stress relief
According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massage can decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels (one of the hormones released in response to stress). Massage has also been proven to reduce anxiety and help you sleep. Take it one step further and book an in-home massage from Zeel. Forget about fighting traffic to get to your appointment; simply let the de-stressing begin.
2. A mind-body soothe
Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing help activate the body’s relaxation response, which is the opposite of, you guessed it, the stress response. When practiced consistently, these techniques help reduce your daily stress levels and increase feelings of serenity.
Cultivate gratitude. According to Martin E.P. Seligman, the father of positive psychology, actively recognizing the positive things in your life increases your long-term happiness. So, write it down. Make it a habit to write down three positive things about each day and expect to see a boost in happiness.
4. A healthy fridge
Eating a balanced diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, instead of one made up of processed food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks, will keep you on an even keel and help you cope more effectively.
5. Get enough sleep
Are you getting enough sleep? If you want to avoid feeling stressed, you have to get more sleep. Our bodies need to rest and reset for optimal performance. Although getting seven to nine hours of sleep might reduce time spent on work, it will set you up for a better day.
6. Laugh it out
We’ve all heard it before, “laughter is the best medicine,” and science backs it up. A study at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore showed that laughing literally opens the blood vessels, promoting better blood flow to the heart. So, pop in that movie that always gives you the giggles, or call your BFF for a walk down memory lane.
Just how stressed are we?
Symptoms of chronic stress include irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia. Results from the most recent Stress in America: The State of our Nation survey published by the American Psychological Association, reveal that chronic stress become woven into the fabric of our modern life. And, it’s increasingly eating away at our overall well-being.
More survey respondents – in comparison to the 2016 report – are feeling the impact of stress in their sleep patterns; almost half of all Americans (45%) report lying awake at night and experiencing sleeplessness on a regular basis. In addition, about one-third of adults said they had experienced feeling nervous or anxious (36%), irritability or anger (35%), and fatigue (34%) as a result of their stress levels.
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It’s important to be aware of stress, but even more important to keep it in check. What will you choose to do this month to reduce your stress?