We know stress is inevitable. And in small amounts, it can be healthy. With seven out of 10 adults in the U.S. experiencing noteworthy amounts of stress or anxiety daily, however, clearly our habits are harming us. Thankfully, there are simple ways to deal with stress.
Out of those seven out of 10 adults who claimed to have daily stress or anxiety, most revealed that it interferes at least moderately with their lives, according to a survey conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
A 2017 study published in the journal Psychiatric Services found that more Americans than ever before are stressed, depressed, or anxiety ridden.
The research found that 8.3 million American adults, which is about 3.4 percent of the U.S. population, suffer from serious psychological distress. Previous estimates put that number at 3 percent or less.
Getting stressed out in traffic or over a deadline is called immediate, short-term stress. This stress can actually be beneficial to your health by helping you to cope with potentially serious situations.
Your body reacts to the stress by releasing hormones. These can speed up your heart and breathing rates, triggering your muscles to take action.
But if your stress doesn’t subside, and, in fact, stays elevated for much longer than is needed for survival, it can turn into chronic stress that has very negative effects on your health.
Frequent or chronic stress will make your heart work too hard for too long, causing your blood pressure to rise, which puts you at greater risk for having a stroke or heart attack.
Chronic stress can promote overeating or not eating enough, as well as promote alcohol or drug abuse.
It can also upset your digestive system, causing heartburn, acid reflux, an increase in your chances of ulcers, and lead to diarrhea or constipation, as well as nausea, vomiting, or a stomachache.
And if you find that your high levels of stress cause you to come down with an illness, you’re right. Chronic stress sufferers are more susceptible to viral illnesses like the common cold and flu.
And while you may know all of this, or at least that too much stress is bad, you might feel overwhelmed with the idea of giving up your life to avoid stress.
Putting a halt on your job or your family might not be in the cards, but sometimes it’s the small changes that can make the biggest difference. Check out this list for simple ways to deal with stress.
A simple walk, a long run, a visit to your yoga studio can do wonders. They can all be incredibly beneficial for your overall health, including your stress levels.
When stress affects the brain, the rest of the body feels the repercussions. Exercise helps the body to produce endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals in the brain that foster relaxation.
Research out of Harvard University found that physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced so much so it is inhibited from interfering with normal brain function.
If you like the idea of an intense, quick workout, try this 15-Minute Indoor Bodyweight HIIT Workout.
And if you need something a little less intense, or even way shorter, try this 6-minute Before Breakfast Mini Morning Workout.
It doesn’t get much simpler than sniffing a pleasant smell for de-stressing.
Aromatherapy has become well-revered. It is a regular occurrence in massage centers, yoga studios, spas, and even in the work place.
The practice involves essential oils. These are made using various medicinal plants, flowers, herbs, roots, and trees. They have been proven, time and time again, to have powerful effects on physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
In fact, research conducted by the PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Board found that aromatherapy is a beneficial practice in managing pain, improving sleep quality, reducing stress, overcoming symptoms of depression, and soothing sore joints.
And various other studies have shown that essential oils like lavender and chamomile can help people who feel stressed to relax.
Try incorporating lovely lavender essential oil into your life. These other essential oils are incredible at alleviating unhealthy stress levels as well.
Sit, breathe, and just be. That’s the basis of meditation. Practice while walking, in the car, on a plane, or in a board meeting.
Meditation, or even just breathing deeply, can cause your body to produce endorphins.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found noteworthy evidence on meditation for stress.
Sifting through nearly 19,000 meditation studies, they discovered 47 trials that addressed the issue. Their findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that meditation can help ease stress.
If you’ve absolutely never meditated before, don’t turn away! This meditation guide for absolute beginners will help you understand how accessible the practice really is.
This practice is another one of the simple ways to deal with stress. It consists of inserting fine needles into specific identified acupuncture points on “meridians” that run throughout the body and correspond to certain organs. It also requires little of your actual effort because you simply rest in place.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, meridians are like a highway of energy called “qi”. Acupuncture works to get rid of the roadblocks on your energy highway.
Research published in the Journal of Endocrinology supports the claim that acupuncture works for stress, having found that, when rats received electronic acupuncture, their stress hormones were lowered.
“Many practitioners of acupuncture have observed that this ancient practice can reduce stress in their patients,” said study researcher Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, an associate professor of nursing at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies. “But there is a lack of biological proof of how or why this happens. We’re starting to understand what’s going on at the molecular level that helps explain acupuncture’s benefit.”
If you’ve ever wished you could just eat your stress away, we have good news.
While too much stress can cause you to overeat or under eat, consuming a healthy diet is a great way to keep your stress levels in check. Some foods have been proven to help, though.
Love salmon? Eat up! According to a study conducted at Oregon State University, the omega-3 fatty acids found in high levels in salmon work to reduce anxiety by 20 percent, help you handle stress better, and boost your mood.
Need some salmon inspo? Try these 21 Quick & Easy Salmon Dinner Recipes.
Check out these 10 Stress-Relieving Superfoods to see which one of your favorite foods can help chill you out.