THE BEST WAYS TO STOP STRESSING OUT

It’s an unfortunate truth that on any given day, there are countless opportunities to go from a happy, carefree person to a frazzled, stressed-out one. Maybe you got a flat tire on your way to an important client meeting. Or you saw your most recent credit card bill. Or you realized your dog forgot that the house isn’t his personal porta potty.

Stressors are lurking all around you, waiting to pop up at any moment. And while some stress is a natural, healthy part of life, too much of it can lead to exhaustion and health issues. That’s key if you’re one of the 25 percent of people who report feeling high levels of stress. It’s also important to understand the different ways your body can feel stressed. There’s mental stress – in fact, a third of stress tends to happen because of work issues – but your body also feels physical stress when you’ve pushed yourself hard at the gym or had one too many nights of horrible sleep (sound familiar?). And all that stress can do a number on your health – mental as well as physical – which is why it’s so important to do what you can to minimize over-stressing

The Ripple Effect

You know that when you’re stressed out, you feel anxious, nervous, or upset. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With high levels of stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. It makes sense: When your ancestors were stressed, they needed to be able to escape the tense situation (a.k.a. the hungry bear that just popped into view). These days your stressors probably aren’t the animal variety, but your reaction is the same. Your heart rate and blood pressure go up, you start breathing more quickly, you sweat, your muscles get tense, your attention becomes super focused, your vision sharpens, and you lose your sense of pain.

Stress also affects everyone a little differently. Some might feel nauseous and lose their appetite completely while others may feel the urge to eat. One reason is that stress can impact your hormone levels and metabolism – speeding up your body’s use of carbs, protein, and fat. As a result of these changes, you have a higher need for certain vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and B, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and chromium. If you already have a deficiency in any of those nutrients and then become stressed, you’ll notice that you’re more irritable and nervous than normal. Fun, right?

Simple Solutions

The Best Ways to Stop Stressing Out

Before all this news stresses you out even more, know that there are a lot of ways you can naturally cut down on how stressed you feel. And chances are, you’re already doing them! One of the more direct ways to tamp down stress is to do something that triggers your body’s relaxation response, which helps reduce blood pressure. This could be meditation, yoga, or even a deep abdominal breathing exercise. You can also relax by taking a bubble bath, going on a walk without your phone, playing with your dog, or even being productive by cleaning or organizing your house.

Eating certain healthy foods can also make you feel better and reduce stress in your body. Take a multi-vitamin to help replace nutrients and minerals your body is using up to fight the stress and eat as many colorful fruits as you can. This ensures you’re getting lots of antioxidants, which will help combat some of the chaos happening in your cells. It’s also a good idea to fill your plate with proteins like lean meat, fish, nuts, and dairy as well as leafy greens, citrus fruits, whole grains, and raw veggies and to replace your typical morning coffee with black tea.

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And don’t forget to hit the gym! Exercising helps clear your mind while also relieving muscle tension and helping you breathe more deeply. In fact, people who work out regularly feel more confident when dealing with stressful issues at work and home, according to research by Saint Leo University. It turns out that when you work out and feel good about what you just did, you also feel good about tackling tough tasks or tricky situations.

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