Health tips to manage stress

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What is stress?

Stress is the body’s response to threats or demands. The response could be physical in the form of high blood pressure, headache, digestive issues, etc. or mental, exhibiting symptoms such as fear, dissatisfaction, anxiety, and depression. Everyone deals with stress at some point in their lives.

Why is it essential to reduce stress?

When stress is felt for a short time, there is nothing to worry about. However, when the stress is chronic (long term), it can become a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, digestive disorders, upper respiratory illnesses, and psychiatric disorders such as depression and dementia.

What happens to the body during stress?

When the is stressed due to a threat or an event, the central nervous system releases the stress hormones - adrenaline and cortisol. These affect the respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, muscular, and the reproductive systems, resulting in increased heartbeat, breathing difficulties, high blood pressure, and stomach issues.

Can we avoid stress?

Stress cannot be avoided entirely but one can manage it effectively to lower the risk of heart diseases, respiratory illnesses, digestive disorders, etc. Let us take a look at some measures we can adopt to manage stress.

#1 - Exercise daily

Exercise promotes overall health, which includes both physical and mental health. It also has direct stress-busting benefits. Exercise can boost the production of your brain’s “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins, to relieve pain and stress. It is often prescribed by medical experts for the treatment of anxiety and depression.

#2 - Find ways to feel good

Meeting up with friends, indulging in spas and aromatherapies, going for long drives or short vacations can help in diverting the mind and reduce built-up tension during stressful times. Choose any activity that you like doing and enjoy them with your friends, to feel refreshed.

#3 - Eat foods that reduce stress

Eating foods that are rich in proteins and omega 3 fatty acids are known to reduce stress and improve health. Some of the foods that can help lower stress include almonds, walnuts, dark chocolate, eggs, garlic, spinach, meat, fish, and poultry.

#4 – Break the monotony

Work may seem monotonous at times and hence, taking up other activities like a hobby can boost mental health and creativity. Visiting new places can also refresh and relax the mind.

#5 - Limit alcohol and smoking

Many people smoke or consume alcohol to ease stress as it gives an immediate sense of relaxation. However, research shows that in the long run, smoking increases anxiety and the urge to smoke more, resulting in addiction. Smoking and alcohol consumption can harm the liver and lungs and hence, quitting or limiting is advisable.

#6 – Practice deep breathing and meditation

Meditation can bring about a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.

#7 - Drink Tea

Researchers have found that drinking tea can lower the levels of the stress hormone - cortisol. The antioxidants (catechins) in tea is known to improve memory while making one feel calmer. Drinking green tea can lower the risk of developing depression and dementia.

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