5 Holistic Practices for Reducing Stress
Image courtesy of Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho
Stress is the leading cause of many diseases including heart disease, digestive disorders such as IBS, depression, moodiness, anxiety, insomnia, obesity, headache, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and skin disorders such as eczema.
Stress is a natural way in which your body responds to challenging and threatening situations. It is your body’s way of preparing and protecting you in case of an emergency or other demanding circumstances.
For example, if you have an important meeting, a deadline, test, or performance, your body's nervous system reacts by releasing hormones to help sharpen your senses and to enhance your focus. Your body reacts to the stress by increasing your heart rate and blood pressure, quickening the breath, dilating the pupils, and tightening the muscles.
Your body's organic response to stress helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert so that you can meet the challenge at hand. It is what keeps you competitive and sharp at work, during sports, or in school.
The Effects of Stress on Our Health
When you are only occasionally exposed to stress and you are finished with your deadline or challenge, your body naturally balances its functions by releasing hormones to calm the breath, heart rate, and blood pressure.
However, if your life is filled with continuous challenges, deadlines, frustrations, and demands, your body starts to operate in a constant emergency mode. Without adequate periods of rest allowing your heart, respiratory system, muscles, eyes, and other systems to renew, your body starts to experience stress overload. This is when the negative effects of stress begin to take effect.
5 Best Natural Ways to Help Relieve Stress:
Get plenty of sleep
Lack of sleep and fatigue can effect your mood, increase your anxiety and overall feeling of stress.
Eat a healthy diet
What you eat affects your energy, mood, and overall well being. A balanced diet rich in vitamins, protein, and nutrients will help keep you healthy. Reduce intake of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and artificial or processed foods which cause additional stress on your body.
Exercise at least 5 days a week for 30 minutes
Exercise helps release tension in the muscles, boosts confidence, enhances your mood, and gives you an overall feeling of well-being.
Set aside time for relaxation
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing help calm the nervous system and help your body recover from the negative effects of stress.
Enjoy time with friends and family on a regular basis. Studies have shown that social interaction, laughter, and engaging in an activity with others help reduce stress and calm the nervous system.