How is it possible for stress to be the cause of so many illnesses? It is estimated that up to 80% of all doctor visits are due to ailments and issues related to stress. We are living in this world where we constantly have to run somewhere and achieve something, so the chronic stress starts overpowering us day by day, and it creeps in so slowly that you don’t even notice it.
What high these cortisol levels produce is a “fight or flight” response – an inborn “system” that has helped us evade dangerous situations and predators in the pre-civilized world, by increasing blood flow to our heart and muscles. These types of dangers are not that common for a 21st century person, who lives in a city.
However, the brain can’t tell the difference between an attacking tiger and a major traffic jam or a lousy boss at work. People’s reactions to stressful situations are different, as some might get a slight feeling of queasiness or a faster heart rate, which is enough to make them anxious.
There are various simple ways that can empower you to reset your mind almost in an instant. By making them a part of each day, you’ll feel more centered and calm.
#1 Listening to Your Favorite Music
Listening to your favorite tunes causes your brain to release dopamine – a mood-enhancing chemical that decreases the levels of stress hormones and lowers the blood pressure. So, turn up the volume in your car while driving home, or just start singing or humming. Listening to music can induce a calm state of mind, relax tense muscles, and slow down your heart rate and breathing, and it’s most effective when in the midst of a stressful situation. Now, you can’t really put your headphones on while arguing with your boss, but if you’re lying in bed trying to get rid of stressful thoughts or stuck in traffic, this kind of music therapy can be a really beneficial way to de-stress and de-clutter your mind.
Getting a massage is a great way to relax and free yourself of tension. The results of a 2007 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, showed that about 60% of emergency room staff suffered from high levels of anxiety and stress. Over two periods of 12 weeks (one in the summer and one in the winter), 365 massages were given in total, resulting in reduced anxiety in emergency nurses due to aromatherapy massage with music.
There are specialized health and relaxation centers that offer various kinds of massages. For example, Doyle’s Physio physiotherapy services include therapies for treating injuries and rehabilitation, as well as massage therapies.
Meditation can be a powerful tool to de-stress. While in a meditative state, the body calms down and the brain decreases its production of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones). On the other hand, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine production (neurotransmitters associated with well-being and calm) goes up. Even a single meditation can turn your overall well-being up, not to mention a regular meditation practice. The ideal meditation is about 20-30 minutes of morning meditation and 20-30 minutes in the evening. However, if you can’t find that half an hour, even a 10-minute meditation can make a difference. Find a peaceful corner in your home, sit down, relax, close your eyes, focus on the now, on your own breathing and existence in that very moment, and calm your body and mind.
#4 Reducing Unnecessary Stimulation
The world we live in is over-stimulated. We are bombarded with information, propaganda, lights, noise, and other distractions. There’s no way to control or reduce it, so the only way to find and enjoy a moment of silence is to make a conscious decision to reduce the excessive stimulation. Your senses then start receiving and processing it, which leads to an increased stress response. The world wants your attention, but you are the one who has to choose whether you’re going to give it or not. If you find yourself anxious after a certain experience (watching a horror movie, shopping at a mall, or spending a few hours in front of your computer screen), you should take control by limiting or eliminating some of those experiences. Don’t leave anything to chance, but control these interruptions, and create a calm in your body by stopping the sensory overload.
We live fast because society wants us to. Thinking about building a career, taking care of yourself, nurturing your relationships, working out to stay healthy, and other things that should come naturally as prerequisites for a healthy life somehow get imposed on us and start to pressure us. In a state of chronic stress, a seemingly unimportant detail or event can get you nervous and anxious.
It’s your job to recognize these signals that your body and mind send, signals that say “you’re stressed and need to calm down”. Take the matter into your own hands. All it takes is half an hour to calm down, reset yourself, and control those bad emotions that tend to eat you from the inside on a day-to-day basis.