Stress is an inevitable part of all of our lives, no matter how hard we try to avoid it, and it can seem even worse during the holidays and winter months. When work stress, dealing with the people in your life, managing your family and a million other things come at you unexpectedly, sometimes it can get overwhelming. Stress is a change in the environment that requires your body to react and make adjustments. These bodily reactions often lead to many unwanted side effects, like headaches, exhaustion, upset stomach, problems sleeping and sometimes even more serious outcomes like high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.
In this article, we will look at 8 simple ways to take control of your stress and amp up your happiness.
1) Get Moving to Get Rid of Stress
For those of us trying to manage our stress, exercise can be one of the best ways to keep its unwanted effects at bay. Studies have shown that the simple act of getting mildly active can change the way you face stressful situations. They have also proven that when you exercise, your brain produces an increased amount of endorphins. These wonderful little neurotransmitters are chemicals released into our brains that give us a feeling of happiness and even euphoria in some cases. Scientists have found that regular engagement in aerobic exercise can decrease stress levels, increase overall mood, improve sleep, and even heighten self-esteem.
2) Eat Your Way to Lower Stress Levels
Many people are unaware that by eating certain foods during times of stress, you can help reduce your stress levels. If you know you are headed for a monster day, plan to eat small healthy meals throughout the day. Try to stay clear of food and beverages with high levels of caffeine, alcohol, sugar and salt during stressful periods and aim for a diet rich with foods that have B vitamins, Vitamin C and Magnesium. These are foods that will help to increase your energy level, battle back against stress hormones released in the brain, relax muscles and reduce anxiety.
3) Give Your Body What it Needs to Improve Happiness
Another great way to manage your stress on a day-to-day basis is to be sure to give your body everything it needs to perform at optimal levels. While eating right is the foundation and critical, there are some things that many of our bodies are lacking. Taking a multi-vitamin is important, but taking the right multi-vitamin is key. Choosing a well-balanced blend that uses the highest quality ingredients will provide your body with the fuel it needs to give stress a one-two punch. In order for your body to absorb all of what it needs, your multivitamin must be pharmaceutical grade and manufactured and tested at the highest level possible.
4) Spend Some Quality Time with Friends
A groundbreaking 2000 study at UCLA looked at women’s responses to stress. What it found was that women with a close circle of friends actually have an additional reaction to the “fight-or-flight” response to stress. These women experienced an increase in oxytocin, which is a soothing hormone released within the brain. While this study was exclusive to women, similar studies have shown that men who spend time with friends and family handle stress significantly better than those who are more isolated. The solution to reducing your stress level could be as simple as meeting up with some good friends.
5) Get Outside
Another simple, yet powerful tool to banish stress and drive up your happy factor is to get outside and take in the outdoors. As you log outdoor hours you will begin to see higher rates of creativity, lower rates of stress and improvements in your level of overall well-being. Be it a hike along rugged paths or a walk around the block, time outside can be a powerful tool in your stress-bashing armory.
6) Crank Up The Tunes
Music provides us with a unique pathway into our complicated emotional system. When we listen to music it can elicit all kinds of reactions. Fast-paced, energetic music can offer a way to shake off stress and take your mind off of what ails you. Softer music has the capability of quickly changing your mood from stressed to soothed. Music has the uncanny ability to change someone’s mood as quickly as you can put your headphones on.
7) Grab a Favorite Book
Getting lost in a epic tale or suspense filled drama can offer even the biggest worry-wart a way to immerse themselves in something other than anxiety inducing concerns. In 2009, a study at the University of Sussex found that reading could reduce stress by as much as 68 percent. The study even proposed that it is more effective and a quicker approach than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music or a warm mug of tea.
8) Do Something Creative
One last activity that can help reduce stress and improve overall happiness is to engage in something creative. Whether you enjoy painting, drawing, gardening, cooking or writing sonnets, getting lost in a creative hobby is a perfect way to push away stress. Any activity that offers a chance to get creative, also offers an opportunity for your brain to refocus from whatever is stressing you out to what makes you happy. It also doesn’t hurt that getting creative often requires you to spend some time at your task, which means you are spending more time enjoying yourself and less time stressing.
Stress is an unfortunate and unavoidable part of being human. Even the most laid-back people will have stress from work, family, and the many other pressures life throws at us daily. That is why it’s important for everyone to take some time and focus on building a stress busting toolbox in order to beat stress at its own game. By following some or all of these eight simple steps, you can battle against stress and be on your way to greater happiness. By taking the time to focus on what makes you happy, you are investing in a happier you.