The world is a stressful place at the best of times, with many people suffering as a result of the pressures they face in their everyday life. Stress is thought to affect around 75% of American adults, whilst up to 91% of Australian adults report feeling stressed in at least one part of their lives. It’s clear to see that stress is something that affects people all around the world – regardless of what hemisphere you reside in or what your background is.
In its mildest form, stress is somewhat of an unwanted nuisance that takes up a little bit too much of someone’s time, but at its worst, it can severely impact someone’s mental and physical wellbeing. Whilst stress is a natural reaction to impactful events and situations, there are various ways you can minimize the onset of it in everyday life. Here are 5 simple stress busting activities you can do right now to reduce your stress levels and aid your mental and physical health.
Stress Busting Activities
Not everyone enjoys long runs and intense workouts, but many people do it because exercise has been proven to reduce levels of adrenaline and cortisol which are your body’s stress hormones. Exercise replaces these hormones with endorphins which increase your mood, make you feel more relaxed and act as a natural painkiller. You might not think it’s true, but it is – it’s a chemical reaction that is automatically stimulated through physical activity, so if you’re feeling a bit stressed, a quick 10 minute workout or brisk walk could be all you need to put you at ease.
There’s a reason people like to take long, hot baths/showers after a hard day; it’s quite simply exceptionally relaxing! When you submerge your body is water, any bodily inflammation or pain is drastically reduced. This is because being in water calms your nervous system, and this means any stress or tension in your body is temporarily halted. When your body feels relaxed, your brain feels relaxed. A bath might not wash away all your worries, but it can certainly help – if only for an hour.
Giving to charity has long been proven to reduce stress levels (in addition to a whole host of other health benefits). The act of giving stimulates feelings of generosity, higher self-esteem and has been linked to lower levels of depression, anxiety and blood pressure. Not only this, the act of giving to those in need can put things into perspective and help you temporarily forget about your own troubles. Whether you donate as a one-off, on a regular schedule or as part of your religion (e.g. zakat and sadaqah or church collections), you’re bound to feel the stress-busting benefits of giving.
No matter how stressed you’re feeling or what your relaxation budget is, the Earth has one very effective (and free) stress-relieving resource to help you: nature. Many of your home comforts may be housed within the comfort of your home, but your evolutionary human instincts dictate that being outside in nature is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety. So, next time you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, take a slow walk in a park or sit under the trees and absorb the green goodness.
When you get stressed, do you find yourself reaching for the chocolate? If so, there’s a scientific reason for it – well, for dark chocolate at least. Easting dark chocolate (in moderation of course) has been proven to reduce levels of glucocorticoid which a stress hormone. If all else fails, bar of dark chocolate is the way forward!
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