Five Ways to Reduce Stress

At some point everyone will experience a degree of stress within their lives. But excessive and or prolonged stress can have remarkable physical effects: it can damage the complexion, disrupt sleep patterns and even impair the immune system.

Below are five ways to live a happier, healthier and stress-free life.

reduce stress

1. Breathe

During moments of stress, the body releases the hormone cortisol, which helps us to deal with the situation effectively. Stress can feature almost continuously in many contemporary lifestyles however, and too much cortisol can have harmful effects on the body. Deep breathing exercises will help to return the body to its natural state of relaxation and reduce harmful levels of cortisol.

Kneel down with your buttocks resting on your heels, keep a straight back and your hands palm-upwards in your lap. Close your eyes and inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of six, focusing on expanding your stomach and diaphragm whilst keeping your shoulders level. Exhale through your mouth and repeat for anything up to ten minutes.

2. Exercise

Exercising releases endorphins which naturally boost energy levels and increase happiness. Fit and healthy people are also better at regulating their heart rate, allowing them to be more relaxed during stressful periods.

Getting just four hours of cardiovascular exercise a week will significantly reduce your susceptibility to stress-related illnesses like depression and anxiety. Activities like team sports and dancing are great ways to stay healthy and have fun at the same time.

3. Sleep

We all know that tiredness exacerbates feelings of irritability. Stress and sleep deprivation have an interconnected relationship where each can be the cause for the other. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol, which are both released during periods of stress, are known to affect sleeping patterns.

If you experience lack of sleep due to stress, try refocusing your mind away from the feelings and emotions and towards achievable tasks. Reading a book or listening to music before you go to sleep will also help.

4. Take a Break

Prolonged periods of stress can lead a any of a variety of stress-related health problems, including cardiovascular disease, psoriasis and depression. It’s important to take regular short breaks from stressful activities, like work, to relax and clear your mind.

It is also healthy to take a longer break from work at least once a year. All inclusive holidays are a great way to do this, as organising the many aspects of a holiday can be a stressful task in itself.

5. Eat Healthily

Diets which are high in cholesterol, carbohydrates and unsaturated fats cause high blood-pressure, which can intensify symptoms of stress. Tea, coffee, soft drinks and alcohol tend to increase the amount of adrenaline your body produces, which may also contribute to stress.

Make sure to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced diet and drink lots of water to help your body excrete stress-inducing toxins.

Stress is all too prevalent in contemporary lifestyles, but hopefully these five suggestions will help to manage stress levels effectively. If stress continues to affect your health, consult a medical professional immediately.

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