More people than ever before are reporting they’re battling stress and anxiety. And it’s really no wonder.
Our 24-hour news cycle has crept from the cable boxes in our living rooms to the phones or tablets in our pockets or purses. Which means we never get away from it. We’re taking it everywhere with us.
We’re pummeled by a never-ending parade of alerts and breaking news headlines. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center Survey found nearly 7 in 10 people surveyed said they felt worn out by all the news that’s now available to us.
And ongoing research by the American Psychological Association has revealed another troubling trend. After 10 years of declining, our stress levels started steadily climbing again in 2016.
It’s exhausting. And there’s a good chance it’s making us sick, too.
4 tricks to stay healthy and relieve stress
Stress reduces our ability to fight off illnesses. It can contribute to sleep problems, depression and bowel troubles. Even worse, it can trigger the kind of chronic inflammation that plays a significant role in debilitating diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.
In other words, if you want to stay healthy reducing stress is critical.
Following are four great ways to take off the edge, relieve stress and leave the worry behind.
1. Soothe the savage breast:
When playwright William Congreve wrote the line “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast” in 1697 he had no inkling of the pressures we’d find ourselves under today. But his words still ring true because music has never stopped being a potent mood changer.
Music can stir deep emotions ranging from sadness to joy. And the right song can prove to be a perfect distraction helping you to overcome worry and relieve stress.
The next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the latest breaking news turn off the television or put down the phone and crank up the tunes. Want to drive away the anxiety even faster? Sing along at the top of your lungs. And while you’re at it get up and dance too.
I guarantee it will be nearly impossible to hold onto the worry while giving a hairbrush concert and cutting a rug.
2. Walk it off:
Exercise is a proven stress buster. But you don’t always need a full-on workout for it to work its magic. A brisk walk can do the trick too.
When you start to feel overwhelmed strap on your walking shoes and step away for a while. The fresh air and being on the move will begin to melt your stress away almost immediately. Plus there’s the endorphin bonus.
Your body naturally produces feel-good hormones called endorphins when you exercise. You may know it as an exercise high. The more you move, the better you’ll feel and the less you’ll worry.
3. Take a meditation minute:
Many folks think meditation requires special preparation and training. But the truth is anyone can do it, and you can do it just about anywhere.
Meditation at its most basic is merely clearing your mind, being present in the moment and focusing on your breathing. And that’s what makes it the perfect stress buster.
When you find your anxiety levels climbing find a spot where you can be undisturbed for at least a minute. That can be at your desk, in your car, or under a tree in your yard. Many folks find closing their eyes helpful, but you don’t have to.
Now clear your mind of anything but your breathing. Take deep breaths in through your nose and feel the air filling your lungs. Hold for a moment and release the air through your mouth.
Any time you feel your mind wandering away from the breath you should simply refocus. If it helps you can repeat a quiet phrase in your head or aloud, such as “breathe in and release.”
Keep it up for at least a minute. And when you return to your routine, you’ll find your stress has vanished.
Need a bit more help getting started? This 1-minute quick breath meditation by Jason Stephenson is a great video for first time meditators.
4. Seek out some supplements:
Still stressed? Soothing nutrients could help.
Chamomile: It’s not your imagination. Sipping on a soothing cup of chamomile tea really does help relieve stress. The chamomile plant is a rich source of the bioflavonoid apigenin, a natural anxiety reliever. In one study, 57 percent of participants reported a significant drop in anxiety levels.
Valerian root: Healers have long used this ancient herbal remedy to help relieve stress and restore restful sleep when worry keeps folks awake. Experts say the smelly root can even work as well as a prescription to calm anxiety in some people. In a study, 90 percent of volunteers with insomnia slept more soundly. And 44 percent of the participants reported “perfect” sleep.
Lemon balm: Lemon balm isn’t just for bumble bees. This member of the mint family has been used for centuries to relieve stress and anxiety. Incredibly, in one study a lemon-balm extract was able to slash anxiety in 95 percent of volunteers. And it ELIMINATED it in 70 percent of folks.
The world may seem like it’s stuck on fast-forward these days. And it’s true the news has now become a 24/7 affair filled with drama and conflict. But that doesn’t mean YOU need to play along.
Step away sometimes as if your health depends on it… because it does. And look for ways to reduce the worry and relieve stress. These four tricks can help.