It goes without saying that stress is bad for us. This is fundamental, yet many of us continue to lead lives that leave little time to unwind and decompress. Sure, stressful times are unavoidable in life. But stress has become an epidemic in our culture, and we are in major need of some rest and relaxation.
If you’re looking for a reason as to why you must schedule in stress reduction, consider how detrimental stress can be to your overall health and wellbeing. Too much stress and strain in the body wreaks havoc on our overall immunity and longevity, and can ultimately lead to physical symptoms such as migraines, digestion issues, high blood pressure, and even heart attacks or cancer. In an article from the Huffington Post, heart surgeon, Dr. Nikki Stamp, writes that.
Heart disease and stress go together like peas and carrots.
A 2018 study found that stress can alter our gut bacteria, which plays a crucial role in our digestion, brain function, and overall immunity. Another found that having sustained levels of cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone produced by the body when we’re under stress, may lead to memory loss.
Why you must schedule stress reduction
Why you must schedule stress reduction shouldn’t even be in question. Yet somehow our culture makes it difficult to set aside the time to relax, restore, and recharge. We’re chronically overworked, overstressed, and over-caffeinated. We’re constantly connected to our technologies or media and do little to disconnect and decompress. It’s no wonder that about seven out of ten people in the U.S. deal with some form of stress every day, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
But even despite these jarring statistics, with a little self-care and minor lifestyle shifts, balance can be restored in the body, mind, and spirit. For those of us who understand why you must schedule in stress reduction, we know that carving out some time to unwind within our hectic schedules can significantly improve our overall health and happiness. But it’s up to us to make the time for ourselves. Whether it be from financial strain, family, work, health, or current affairs, sometimes we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, which can feel overwhelming. We must realize that for us to really thrive and be of service in this world, we have to take time to restore. It’s a radical act of self-care to reduce stress in your life consciously, but so very worth it.
There are a million reasons why you must schedule in stress reduction and even just a few changes to our daily routine can make a profound and lasting impact. Stress is sometimes inescapable, but we can cultivate a few simple tools that bring us back to a more peaceful state of mind almost instantly.
Stop, Drop, and Meditate
Even just five minutes of intentional breathing can be the remedy for a tough day.
Apps like Headspace give us the opportunity to slow down, recharge, and get centered with access to calming meditations right at our fingertips. As you develop your meditation practice, you may start to notice that your self-awareness increases while your reaction to the everyday stressors diminishes. Meditation calms the nervous system, slows down our heart rate, and gives us the mental clarity to better cope with stressful situations as they arise. And if you need another reason why you must schedule in stress reduction, studies show that a regular meditation practice can improve how we process fear in our brains. After eight weeks of mindfulness practices, MRI scans showed that the amygdala, the part of our brain that controls fear and our “fight or flight” response system, shrunk.
Exercise and Eat a Well-balanced Diet
How you feel in your body has a direct correlation to your mental health. Treat it with love and respect. It’s all too tempting to reach for a bag of chocolate chip cookies and collapse onto the couch after a hard day. But let’s face it, drowning our feelings in overly processed junk food and Netflix binges aren’t going to solve anything. A healthy diet and regular exercise routine, however, may be the cure and another reason why you must schedule in stress reduction. Countless studies and research prove that exercise and diet play a vital role in our ability to manage and reduce stress. Nourish your body and release some endorphins to boost your mood and feel confident in your body. Practice yoga to connect deeper with your breath. Dance as a form of exercise to move any stagnation or stuck energy in the body. Take a run outside and get some fresh air… There’s a reason why they call it a “runner’s high.”
Take Time Away From Your Work
When the workday is over, let it be over. Turn off your notifications and step away from the emails. Get out in nature. Play music. Find a hobby. Read a book. Sometimes we need to step away from our everyday stressors to shift our perspective. Remember that you are not defined by your work and allow yourself time to disconnect. Your work will be there when you return.
Cultivate Healthy Relationships
Sometimes we just need the feeling of a comforting hug or an open conversation with someone we can trust. Good relationships reduce cortisol in the body and have been shown to alleviate stress. Stay close to the people that love and support you unconditionally. Nurture the positive relationships in your life that bring light even to your darkest days.
Take a Bath
There’s just something so soothing about emerging your body in a nice hot bath after a long day. Throw in some muscle-soothing Epsom salts and a few drops of calming lavender essential oil. Listen to some relaxing music and turn the lights down low to really set the vibe. As your stress dissolves away in the warm tub and your body relaxes, you’ll surely realize why you must schedule in stress reduction.
Small modifications to your daily habits and lifestyle can make a world of difference in stress levels. The next time you catch yourself caught up in a swarm of anxious thoughts or tension, turn to these simple yet effective techniques to bring you back to a state of balance and peace.
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