We all experience stress. How we address it can mean the difference between fast aging and living longer.
Our body’s natural reply to stress involves the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream, producing a fight or flight response. As our heart rate elevates, we breathe more heavily and blood vessels constrict. Chronic stress can lead to hypertension, anxiety and an overall poor quality of life.
Our brains initiate this primitive response. It was useful when we wear being attacked by tigers, but a due date is not quite as life-threatening. The good news is that we can mitigate our brain’s response by practicing better ways of addressing stress, including:
Spend time with a friend (virtually): a recent study of middle school kids found that spending time with friends actually decreased their production of cortisol and that can hold true for adults, too.
Snack on a banana: Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure, which climbs during periods of stress. Research shows that a banana can protect your body from the adverse effects of stress. Stress can cause an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. A study found that people who grabbed a banana during stressful situations reported improved energy and recovery.
Walk for 10 minutes: exercise helps in many ways, like boosting endorphins, which reduces stress hormones as well as by clearing your head. If you can take a walk on a beach, in a park or another green space, it can put your body into a meditative state. This is due to a phenomenon known as involuntary attention, which means that something holds our focus (ex. leaves, water, etc.) but also allows for reflection at the same time.
Add a plant to your home and office space: these natural air purifiers can help calm you. Being around plants can trigger your relaxation response. Plus, they’ll beautify your environment and give you something to care for without requiring much effort.
Walk away from the screen often: studies show that uninterrupted computer use is linked to stress, loss of sleep and depression in women, especially at night. During the day, incorporate breaks away from the screen at least every 2 hours. Take a walk, grab some coffee or water and make sure to shut the computer down at least an hour before bedtime.
Groove out to your favorite tunes: we know that classical music has a soothing effect on the human body as it slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure and decreases levels of stress hormones. Any music that you love will have a similar effect as it increases the production of dopamine, the feel-good neurochemicals in the brain. Music works to help us deal with everyday anxiety and studies show that it is highly beneficial for those during stressful events.
Take a viral video break:
laughter truly is the best medicine. You will take in more oxygen, stimulate your heart and increase your endorphins. Our personal recommendation? A cat video or two during your break!