Stress in our everyday lives can lead to symptoms which affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behaviour. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It is well documented that increasing exercise can help to manage stress. Here are some other strategies to try. The three S’s you probably haven’t thought about.
“Many things that we take for granted are affected by sleep,” says Dr Raymonde Jean, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. If you sleep better, you can improve your energy levels and manage stress better. “Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress,” she says. “With that, people can have better control of their blood pressure. It’s also believed that sleep affects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease.” “A good night’s sleep allows you to tackle the day’s stress easier,” according to the Sleep Disorders Health Centre,“When you are tired, you are less patient and easily agitated which can increase stress. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Practising good sleep hygiene along with stress-lowering tactics can help improve your quality of sleep.”
Scientists have found that certain smells can have as soothing an effect on the brain as taking stress-relieving medication. Researchers claim that the scent of Jasmine shows similar effects to Valium at calming people down. Vanilla fragrance has been shown to lessen anxiety before stressful medical procedures and also to reduce the startle reflex. Lavender, apple and coconut scents have also been linked with reduced stress and anxiety. Soothing smells enhance the effects of the brain chemical GABA on nerve cells, bringing feelings of well-being and stress relief.
Exercising your vocal chords is a really good form of stress relief. Singing, humming, and even screaming have all been shown to help instantly reduce stress. Humming helps relax tense muscles, singing has the added benefit of boosting your immune system, and letting rip when you’re angry can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you’re feeling pressured, find a wall to shout at, rather than taking it out on your friends, family or colleagues. The best songs to sing or hum for stress relief are those that give you a warm buzz inside.
Taking care of yourself and managing your own health is vital in order to stay healthy and productive. Be sure to take the time to think about how you currently cope with stress and if there are changes to be made, be proactive in making them.