Learning how to de-stress is an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to optimizing your health. Chronic stress can impair weight loss and digestion, interrupt sleep, worsen sugar cravings, decrease productivity, and harm your relationships, so it’s necessary to create a stress management practice to effectively deal with life’s stressors and move you from a state of stress to relaxation!
HOW STRESS NEGATIVELY IMPACTS YOUR BODY
You may be thinking, “I’m just stressed about this presentation I’ve got coming up – it’s no big deal.”
But to your body, it is a big deal.
Your body can’t tell the difference between I’ve-got-a-presentation-due-stress and I’m-running-for-my-life-so-this-bear-doesn’t-eat-me-stress.
Be it insignificant stress or life-threatening stress, your body’s response is the same: it shuts down the non-essential systems (like your digestive and reproductive systems) and releases a flood of the hormone cortisol, initiating a fight or flight response to give you every advantage possible to stay alive!
We humans are equipped to handle stress every once and a while, but when stress becomes all day, every day, we run into some serious health consequences like a weakened immune system, impaired fat burning ability, hormone imbalances, reduced testosterone and growth hormone, depression, anxiety, and eventually, cardiovascular disease.
You may have the perfect diet and the most dialed in workout routine, but if stress is left unchecked, it will take a toll on your health. So what can you do about it?
WHY LEARNING HOW TO DE-STRESS IS KEY TO HEALTH
For many of us, relaxing is easier said than done. It sounds crazy, right? It should be easy to sit on a couch for hours and do nothing!
But there’s always another to-do on the list, another looming deadline, a boss that needs something, a hundred unread emails.
We’re programmed to feel a constant sense of urgency, competitiveness, self-criticism, and impatience, all of which can make taking time for yourself feel like a weakness or like the ultimate failure.
But in fact, the exact opposite it is true: when you learn to relax, you set yourself up for greater success!
By being aware of your stress levels and taking just a little time to de-stress every day, your mind and body are more relaxed, laying the foundation for massive productivity on many levels!
Relaxation doesn’t have to be time-consuming. It can be as quick as spending a couple minutes practicing deep, focused breathing or as long as an entire day being pampered at the spa!
30 HEALTHY WAYS TO MOVE FROM STRESS TO RELAXATION
- Practice deep focused breathing
- Listen to soothing music
- Get lost in a good book
- Relax in a hot tub or hot spring
- Enjoy a mug of chamomile or Stress Ease tea
- Watch your favorite TV show or movie
- Go for a walk
- Hug someone you care about
- Get a relaxation massage
- Journal (freeform or using prompts)
- Talk with a close friend or family member
- Take a long, hot shower
- Enjoy an Epsom salt bath
- Practice yoga (in a class or on your own)
- Get it on with your significant other
- Stretch and mobilize
- Foam roll
- Smile (even if you don’t feel like it)
- Spend time in nature
- Write a gratitude list
- Walk barefoot in the grass
- Get a manicure and/or pedicure
- Light a candle or burn incense
- Spend time with loved ones (significant others, friends, pets)
- Turn off your phone
- Do an arts and crafts project
- Listen to a podcast or audiobook
- Swing in a hammock
MAKE RELAXATION A LIFESTYLE
There are so many ways to de-stress, so start experimenting and create an arsenal of relaxation strategies to keep you calm in any situation!
Give yourself permission to disengage from the hustle and put yourself first for a change, because when you do, not only will you get unstuck and crush your health goals, but you’ll set yourself up for a lifetime of health and happiness, no matter what stress life throws at you!
This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and efficacy.
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