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This article was written by Tania Bhattacharya on behalf of Sherley Altidor.
Edited by Melody Simpson
Blame it on the society that we live in or the kind of lifestyles that we lead, shielding ourselves from stress is almost becoming impossible. No matter where we are and what we do, it seems that stress always finds its way into us. But how stressed are we as a nation?
The American Psychological Association tried to find an answer through a survey that it conducted in 2017. The survey cited various factors including work, personal finance, and the socio-political makeup of America as the most disturbing triggers for stress. While 14 percent of the responders resort to unhealthy practices such as smoking for dealing with stress, 53 percent said that they exercise or participate in physical activities in an attempt to cope with stress. Other alternatives that most people are turning to as stress busters include listening to music (47 percent), praying (29 percent), and meditating or yoga (12 percent).
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I’m curious to know, how do you manage stress? Don’t be shy in the comments. How you deal with stress might be a way for someone to deal with their stress that they have yet to try. Did you know that a few simple changes to our lifestyle can help to reduce our everyday levels of stress and improve the quality of our life? We all deal with stress in different ways and in order to be the best that way can be as a society, it makes the most sense to share how we’re coping and what works, don’t you think? A society that heals together, thrives together.
Here are a few things to consider when learning how to deal with stress:
We need to understand that stress is a psychological condition. In order to deal with stress, the first task to think about is calming down and keeping our mind clear. That’s exactly what meditation, a mind-body practice that has a long history of being practiced across the world, helps in achieving. Studies show that meditation is effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression apart from helping you to manage pain better and improve overall health.
Make Healthy Food Choices
Believe it or not, the kind of food that we eat (or don’t eat) affects our psychological well being. Mindful eating can significantly improve your health and reduce stress. Vitamin B, found in common foods such as chickpeas, chicken, salmon, plain yogurt, and oatmeal can help in generating pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine and erase anxiety. Similarly, magnesium in food such as spinach, tofu, and almonds has a calming effect on the body and relaxes the muscles. Psychological stress can manifest in physical conditions such as belly fat and may even damage the brain cells. Including enough vitamin C in your diet will help prevent this damage and build a strong immune system.
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Reducing the amount of caffeine intake and increasing the amount of natural tea can also help in eliminating stress. There are thousands of different kinds of tea, each with their own beneficial factors. Chamomile tea, peppermint tea, and lavender tea for example all help with alleviating stress and anxiety. Whether you’re getting tea from the supermarket, a cafe, or ordering tea from around the world, consider incorporating a cup of tea into your lifestyle every morning or night instead of copious amounts of coffee and see how your body reacts to the change. The initial change, the withdrawal from coffee is normal but after that subsides, listen to how your body reacts and see if tea is something worth incorporating into your life in the long run.
Adopt a Pet
Studies show that pets can reduce the level of stress. Petting an animal or playing with an animal can reduce the secretion of stress hormone cortisol and increase the levels of oxytocin that’s responsible for lower stress levels. A pet owner, especially the owner of a dog, gets a lot of exercise in walking the dog and playing with it, which is also a good way to reduce stress. If you are not allergic to cats or dogs, getting one might be a good idea. If you are allergic, there are hypoallergenic dogs that you can get. If you’re getting a dog, it is very, very important to do your research on the type of dog that best fits your personality and lifestyle because all dogs are not the same and will not bend to your lifestyle. It’s more the reverse, your life will change because of the dog. Especially if you get a dog that is the exact opposite of what you need. Some breeds require more maintenance, more exercise, more companionship. IAMs and Pedigree have Dog Breed Selector Quizzes where you can begin to determine which dog breed would best fit what you need.
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There are also a host of other types of animals that you can adopt as a pet besides the standard cat and dog such as a bird, gerbel, hamster, lizard, snake, fish, turtle, rabbit, hedgehog, etc… and if you can afford it, a horse. If you have the space, perhaps you might want to raise chickens. There are many different options available to you if you are interested in getting a pet. Be sure to do your research on the best places near you to rescue an animal.
Finally, one of the essential steps in reducing stress is to make room for yourself.
Take care of yourself and do things that make you happy. It doesn’t have to be a #SelfcareSunday for you to treat yourself to a mani/pedi, go on a hike, or explore a nearby city ending with taking yourself out to eat. Surround yourself with positive people and be sure to check in with these people even when you’re unable to physically be with them. Say no to addictive tendencies as best you can. Identify your stress triggers and stay away from them as much as possible.
Most importantly, set the standards for embracing a healthy lifestyle and don’t feel guilty about being responsible and sticking to those standards. Don’t feel guilty about pampering yourself with a good massage every now and then as well, whether you have “earned it” or not. We are here and we are surviving day in and day out. You’ve earned it.
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