10 Ways to Beat Stress and Stay Healthy

March 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Body Health, Relax and Rejuvinate

Everyone is subject to stressful situations everyday. Work, finances, relationships – the more complex our world gets, the more likely we will encounter stressors and stress triggers. Stress, per se, is not altogether bad. In fact, it is the body’s natural defensive reaction to perceived threats. Our body responds to stressful situations by releasing hormones that makes us more alert and focused.

Athletes, painters, and musicians have been known to perform better under stress. However, whenever we fail to act on the stressful situation, the hormones and chemicals remain unused in our bloodstream and we feel the outward effects of anxiety and tension. Constant, accumulated and prolonged periods of stress can lead to various psychosomatic illnesses and weaken the body’s immune system.

Stress can cause sleep disorders and very often drives individuals to resort to addictive substances that provide temporary relief such as cigarettes and alcohol. This is when stress becomes a threat to health and well-being. So how should we deal with stress and prevent its ill effects? Here are 10 simple steps to living healthy and stress-free.

1. Eat right. Get real stamina and energy boosters from good sources such as protein-rich foods. The jolt you get from coffee and sweets are temporary and will soon wear off. Healthy food can help you get going in the midst of pressure.

2. Get physical. Exercise relaxes tense muscles and induces the body to release natural endorphins that combat stress and improve your mood. Even simple stretches can soothe knotted muscles and increase blood circulation.

3. Get enough sleep. Sleeping is the body’s way of recharging in preparation for more work ahead. Getting adequate sleep is important for attaining a healthy mind and body as it revitalizes the organs by promoting cell and tissue repair. Sleeping also helps boost the immune system to enable our body to fight off infection. During sleep, the brain stores and processes information. This is very important to maintain healthy mind and body function.

4. Laugh often. Laughing triggers the release of endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers. Health and fitness studies show that laughter reduces levels of known stress response hormones like epinephrine and cortisol. It cleanses the lungs and induces muscle relaxation.

5. Relax and unwind. Everyone needs to take a break from the constant pressures of life. Constantly beating deadlines will eventually take its toll on your health so it is important to step back sometimes and allow the body to recoup.

6. Know your limits. We all want to go higher and faster but often; this comes at the expense of our mental and physical health. Set your priorities and do not spread yourself too thin. Forgive yourself for failures and accept shortcomings as learning tools.

7. Enjoy the company of friends. We are social beings and interaction with friends and loved ones is essential for our well-being. Talking to friends about problems lightens the burden. It also opens you up to different perspectives.

8. Avoid vices. Sometimes we are tempted to indulge in quick-fixes to soothe frayed nerves during stressful situations. However, vices such as drinking and smoking have serious health side-effects. Alcohol is known to cause liver and kidney problems and smoking can lead to various problems such as hypertension and cancer.

9. Find a diversion. Doing something you enjoy will help you get revitalized. Sports and hobbies are perfect diversions that will not only keep your mind away from the stresses of your day job but will also improve creativity and imagination.

10. Get professional help if necessary. Some stressful situations require professional intervention to help you cope. Life-changing events like the death of a loved one, accidents, and divorce may require you to undergo therapy. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to seek help.