Why do we stress and how can we beat it? Unlike other mammals, humans have a comparatively larger brain to body size ratio. Therefore, for us stress does not come from the fear of being eaten for lunch, but instead we fear someone eating our lunch. It however sparks the same bodily survival responses of threat in us as would a crocodile attack. During stress or anxiety, our body prepares itself for fight or flight. This causes the secretion of stress hormone (adrenaline or cortisol), high blood pressure, quickened breathing, slowed digestion and perspiration. However, when our system stays in a constant stressed state then this may lead to headaches, pains, breathing issues and lowered productivity. All this further contributes to heightening our anxiety.
Stress can be caused by a number of factors, both good and bad. Whether it’s dealing with big changes at work or home or managing the day to day anxiety, stress has found a way to incorporate itself in our everyday lifestyle. Instead of letting your stress and anxiety reach an unmanageable point, try the following de-stressing tips which may help you in lightening and loosening up and therefore help in handling your life more easily.
Say no to excessive caffeine! Caffeine itself is a stimulant that increases the secretion of adrenaline within the body, the same hormone that we are aiming to reduce in order to lessen the stress on our nervous system. Therefore, it is beneficial to avoid cola’s, coffees and cigarettes (nicotine releases adrenaline as well) and replace them with herbal teas instead.
Healthy diet and daily physical exercise can be your allies in the fight against stress and anxiety. Exercise helps remove the stress hormones from the blood stream and initiates the release of endorphins that gives you a feeling of well being. It assists in providing oxygen to each cell of the body, subsequently increasing our brain’s productivity and efficiency. Exercise therefore makes you feel more in control of your situation.
Take time out for yourself
We all need some time for relaxation and socialization. We often forget to take time out for ourselves. It is vital to make it a priority to add some ‘me’ time on our to-do list. Irrespective if that time is spent reading a book, talking to a friend or playing with a pet. The basic aim is to indulge yourself in activities that would help you unwind at the end of a long day or week.
Get more sleep
Get the right amount of sleep for your needs; not too little nor too much. Lack of sleep can often result in fatigue and tiredness. This hinders our ability to focus, concentrate or think clearly and consequently increases our current stress levels.
Connect with people
Spend time with your friends and family, either in the form of organized activities or even simply hanging out with a group of friends. Often just talking about your worries with someone who cares makes you feel more understood, secure and supported. In many cases, it is not in your control to change a difficult situation. In such times, you need to accept things as they are because there is no point in fighting them. There is also the option to seek professional help depending upon how stressful your worry is.
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Ref: Stanford Neuro-biologist Robert Sapolsky