Every once in a while, we have those times when we are absolutely inundated and quite overwhelmed. As humans, we can be assured that these hectic periods in life will happen to everyone. Many times during these periods we are pushed from pillar to post. Those times can be personal, career, lifestyle changes, family or even political. It’s important to find a way to decompress. I’ve scoured around the web, chatted with nurses and doctors and had great conversations with people and I’ve compiled short list of things you can do to decompress in the middle of stress.
Sometimes you just have to take a break. It seems obvious, but there really is no substitute for taking a break from the rate race. Studies suggest that taking a break can actually boost productivity. According to research in “The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High Tech World,” by Neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and Psychologist Larry D. Rosen, breaks can actually reduce mental fatigue, improve focus and increase productivity. This is because the prefrontal cortex, (the part of the brain responsible for logic and will-power), becomes fatigued after prolonged decision-making, which can result in poor overall performance.
Yes, sometimes your breaks must be serious enough to lose consciousness over. Do not underestimate the benefits of a good night’s rest or even a power nap (if that’s your thing). In a 2013 National Institute of Health report, it was discovered that sleep affects growth/stress hormones, appetite, breathing, blood pressure, cardiovascular health and the human immune system. If you are under stress, be sure to get your rest every night so that your body has the capacity to face the days challenges in the healthiest way possible.
3. GET PHYSICAL
While we often like to believe that rest, breaks and sleep alone will help us decompress, don’t forget the benefits of touch. Touch has an incredible ability to improve health and relieve stress. Johns Hopkins Professor, Dr. David J. Linden is among those who researched the power of touch. Soothing non-threatening touch helps to relieve stress, reduce cortisol levels, increase dopamine and endorphins (feel good hormones) and generally put us in a good mood. Everything from petting your animal, giving someone a hung, a back massage or even sex will help to reduce stress levels and put you in a good mood. Don’t say no to the hug! You need it.
4. EXERCISE AND FITNESS
EXERCISE AND FITNESS
There’s no way of getting around it. Working out daily or at least three times a week can improve your ability to manage stress and help you to decompress from a stressful day or work week. You won’t want to do it at first, but the dividends will pay off. The angiogenesis (creation of blood vessels) will increase your blood flow and that alone will get more oxygen and nutrients to every part of your body. Especially your stressed-out brain, which needs the extra horsepower during challenging life moments.
5. EAT AND DRINK TO HEALTH
EAT AND DRINK TO HEALTH
We all know it’s important to stay fit and eat well. But how many know that foods can help you relax? Remember how sleepy you got after Thanksgiving dinner? Well, it’s the tryptophan in the Turkey that makes you drowsy. Try having a big turkey sandwich for supper if you want to sleep well. Salmon is another booster, it has Omega 3 fatty-acids which helps to reduce anxiety and stress—make a meal that helps you relax. Dark chocolate also lowers the level of cortisol (stress hormone) in the blood. Try having a cup of probiotic yogurt with berries, both are known to reduce stress levels in the body. There are a ton of foods out there that you can plan into your day to improve your overall outlook.
Be sure to use these tips to help you destress and cope with life’s challenges. Often, people battling depression, persistent illness and other maladies can be greatly helped by making some health and wellness adjustmens. Also, if you are persistently stressed out for prolonged periods of time, you may want to co sultan your physician for other options. Here’s to life!