Everyone can experience stress from time to time—no matter their age. Thrive Global called stress the “health epidemic of the 21st century.” Regardless of your situation, stress can easily pile up, whether it’s caused by the pressure of paying off debt, budgeting for repairs or improvements around the house, dealing with the loss of a loved one, changing jobs, preparing for retirement, etc.—the list goes on.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to reduce your stress levels.
In light of Stress Awareness Month this April, we’ve compiled a list of 10 tips you can practice daily to help reduce your stress levels. Whatever life is currently throwing at you, there are things you can do to make the best out of every situation.
Studies show that meditating has various stress-reducing effects, such as decreasing anxiety, improving cardiovascular health, improving relaxation, and more. When stressed, there is an increase in blood pressure and pulse, causing heavy breathing and increased blood flow to muscles throughout the body. This feeling is similar to how bodies react in “fight or flight” mode.
Meditating combats these symptoms and elicits the complete opposite reactions: decreased blood pressure and pulse, slower breathing, relaxed muscles, etc. Practicing meditation, even for less than five minutes, can help you reduce your stress levels and tap into a calmer feeling. It’s a great way to begin your day, yet helpful regardless of what time of day you decide to practice.
Similar to meditating, yoga has been proven to reduce stress levels, not to mention it can also help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases. And don’t be intimidated; yoga may sound complicated, but there are poses and practices for all types of expertise levels.
It’s important to note that yoga is also more than posing and stretching; yoga is also meant to improve breathing practices by helping people learn how to control their breathing and quiet their bodies and minds. If you find the majority of physical movement and poses challenging, you can still improve breathing and be more mindful on a daily basis, which can greatly decrease your stress levels.
Spend Time with Your Loved Ones
Being around your friends and family can provide a sense of calmness and belonging. Although day-to-day life is busy and often full to the brim with to-dos, make time to talk with or visit loved ones. It may be difficult to schedule time for this each day, but it doesn’t have to be for a long period of time. Even if it’s just taking five minutes to call a loved one or dropping by for a brief visit, this can help calm you and give you (and them) something to look forward to each day.
Take a Minute for Yourself
Life is hectic, and you may not get a chance to have much time for yourself. However, regardless of how busy you are, it’s important to make time for yourself, even if it’s for only a few moments. Whether that be going into an empty room to take a few breaths or taking a relaxing bath, taking time for yourself—without electronics—can help calm you throughout the day and reduce your stress levels.
Exercise is another activity that combats stress. It may seem more stressful to put physical pressure on your body, but exercise actually lowers stress hormones and improves your mood through releasing endorphins. Exercise doesn’t need to be extensive weight workouts with intense cardio; it can simply be taking a walk outside or swimming in a pool. It’s all about getting up and being active when possible.
Whatever exercise you decide to do each day, just make sure it’s not too intense for your body and that you pace yourself. Also, be sure to consult your doctor if you have any specific concerns about what type of exercise is best for you.
Reduce Caffeine Intake
Small amounts of caffeine can improve your mood and give you a boost throughout the day, but if you have too much of it, it can do the opposite and increase your stress levels. Because caffeine injects adrenaline into your body, it can cause a “crash” effect later on in the day, making you feel moody and fatigued. Caffeine can also increase levels of cortisol, which is known as the “stress hormone” that can lead to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and more.
To ensure you don’t have too much caffeine, avoid taking caffeine after 2 pm and keep your intake level under 400 milligrams (mg) every day. However, 400mg is still extremely high for many people, so be sure to customize your caffeine intake based on your tolerance level and health situation.
Although there is over-the-counter prescription medication for stress, some people prefer to try more natural methods before turning to stronger medicine. If that is something that interests you, here are a few natural remedies you can try that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety:
● Green tea
● Valerian root
● Lemon balm
Listen to Music
Studies show that music with at least 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat, creating alpha brainwaves. We experience these types of brainwaves when we are conscious and relaxed. Because music elicits this reaction in the brain, it can reduce stress levels.
The type of music that will relax you will depend on which type of music you prefer. Obviously, if you’re listening to music you dislike, this could raise your stress levels rather than lower them. So find which music you like the best that can cause this type of calming effect in your body. For example, instances during the day where you have downtime (such as driving, doing laundry, cleaning the house, etc.), you can use this time to put on your favorite type of music to help relax.
Do Something that Makes You Happy
This is meant to be a vague suggestion because every person is different, and each of us has unique things that make us happy. Whether that be spending time outside, watching a show you love, listening to a favorite podcast, cuddling with your pet, writing in your journal, or even just eating something that you love—take the time to make your happiness a priority. Small things really do make a difference.
Take Care of Your Health
All of the above tips are things that can help you take care of your everyday health. However, you should also ensure your overall health is taken care of as well. Top-rated medical alert providers offer in-home and mobile medical alert systems that can be worn as a pendant, bracelet, or wearable to give you the protection, peace of mind, and emergency assistance if needed. Having this type of easy-to-use technology can help reduce stress levels for both older adults and their loved ones.