Long-term stress causes devastating health problems in the body. The only way to prevent this damage is to implement effective coping mechanisms to relieve stress.
The negative effects of long-term stress can be physical, emotional, cognitive, or behavioral. Unmitigated stress may contribute to the development of mental health issues, cardiovascular disease, eating disorders, menstrual problems, sexual dysfunction, skin and hair conditions, and gastrointestinal distress.
Stress itself is meant to be a helpful body signal that warns a person of danger—the problem is when it’s experienced repeatedly over a long period of time.
To learn about some effective ways to reduce stress, check out the list below.
1. Breathing Techniques
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but many people take it for granted. The fact is, using breathing techniques will force your body to relieve stress.
Breathing slowly reverses the physical response to stress. It forces the heart to slow down and blood pressure to lower.
To do this, breathe in and count to three while watching your stomach fill with air. Hold your breath in for one second, then breathe out slowly for three counts.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This is a relatively new practice that many people are unaware of. It involves tightening each muscle group in the body and then releasing it. It starts with the forehead and ends with the toes.
3. Change of Scenery
Simply taking a walk when feeling stressed is a healthy coping mechanism. Plan regular breaks in the workday where you can get up, walk around, and stretch your legs. Even if this is just a lap around the office, it can be beneficial.
4. Use Aromatherapy
There are studies that show aromatherapy decreases the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. Even at work, you can keep some essential oils around for a quick sniff. Lavender is one of the most studied, but you can experiment with other scents to see what works for you.
5. Practice Leisure
Many people feel they are too busy for leisure time. It’s important to make time for leisure, no matter what your schedule looks like.
Leisure means different things to different people. This may involve hobbies, games, or even choosing college football picks with some buddies.
6. Remove Triggers
Technology is a huge stress trigger for most people in the 21st century. Decreasing screen time is often a great way to reduce stress. Other triggers may involve consumption levels of caffeine, alcohol, or even the news.
7. Make Time for Exercise
Just like leisure time, it’s vital to make room for exercise. The good news is there is an endless list of ways to exercise, so you can choose the one you enjoy the most.
8. Physical Touch
Although physical touch may not be appropriate in the workplace, this is a healthy coping mechanism that can be practiced at home. Getting a hug from a loved one can help you feel safe and reduce the body’s “danger” stress response.
Implementing Ways to Relieve Stress
Not all of these methods to relieve stress will work for everyone. You have to experiment and find the right combination that works for you. Try implementing one of two of these items for a month or so, recording changes in your physical and mental wellbeing daily.
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