Stress is something that nearly everyone experiences. Whether it is induced by problems at work, your family, or issues of everyday life, stress is something that can slowly chip away at your health. It’s necessary to take a step back, a breather, and focus on taking the time to relax and destress. Here are five ways that can help bring you relaxation.
Acupuncture, which involves pricking the skin with needles at specific points, has been known to relieve stress. It doesn’t seem like needles would help decrease stress, but having them at specific points actually helps neutralize stress hormone levels, which the body secretes into the bloodstream when stressed. The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal gland (known as the HPA axis) release these hormones that produce other hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine, both of which increase anxiety. Chinese medicine indicates the body’s energy force, commonly known as chi, regulates overall health. Acupuncture helps to restore the flow of chi throughout the entire body by the insertion of the needles at specific points.
When the body over-produces cortisol as a result of stress, your thyroid has to work extra hard to maintain energy levels. Meditation is a tool that helps to manage stress. Practicing the slow breathing to relax helps lower the heart rate, blood pressure, and can improve cognitive performance. The best way to meditate is to find a quiet, calming space of isolation. Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose, and hold the breath for 3 seconds before exhaling. The hardest part about meditation is keeping your mind still. The natural tendency is to think about ten things at once, but focus on your breath because it helps you relax. Meditating everyday can improve your mind-body connection.
Stress can cause people to eat and crave unhealthy foods. Stress eating is merely a side effect of stress. When you are stressed it’s important to take a second to think about your food choices before indulging in sugary, fatty foods. Think about whether or not you are actually hungry. Recognize when you are actually hungry and then eat the right foods, which have calming effects. Eat a handful of raw nuts, which are rich in magnesium, a mineral that lowers cortisol levels. It’s important to replenish the body with magnesium-rich foods to keep stress levels down. Avocados are also a great source of magnesium and help curb stress and anxiety.
When you soak in a hot bath your muscles naturally relax in the heat. A restorative bath can release dopamine, a hormone that combats stress. The bathtub is a place of solitude, and a chance for you to focus on nothing. It’s a break from the rest of your day and a chance to care for the self. To help relieve stress even more, add epsom salts or essential oils like lavender, Frankincense, rosewood, or cinnamon to your daily soak. They have calming, soothing, and medicinal properties that the body absorbs through the skin, which is the largest organ in the body.
Exercising on a daily basis, even if it’s only 30 minutes a day, can help maintain healthy thyroid function, proper metabolism, and balance hormone levels. Exercise boosts endorphins, which make you feel happy. You’ll notice that exercise takes your mind off stress because you are solely focused on the exercise at hand. There are restorative and stress-relieving exercises that you can easily practice. Yoga, tai chi, swimming, Pilates, or even a walk around your neighborhood is not only good for lowering stress, but it keeps you healthy as well.