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Healthy Habits You Need to Put in Place to Ease Stress

Anxiety. Irritability. Panic. Anger. Fear. These are just a few of the symptoms of stress that creep up on us so deviously, and they can be so damn hard to avoid! In this day and age, life is so busy and fast paced that stress has become an all too common ‘ailment’.  

With so many things going on, how can we slow down and focus on enjoying our lives, rather than rushing through them?  

What is stress?

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by either good or bad experiences. When we feel stressed by something going on around us, our bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood.
 
Whether it be that ‘butterfly’ feeling you feel when you’re about to start a new job, or that wretched twist in your stomach when you realize that urgent work email has not been sent, a number of bodily processes occur during these stressful times. 
 
There are so many chemical reactions and hormones that are involved in a stress response, that it makes you marvel at how intelligent our bodies are. It makes us realize how much we put them through when we’re constantly stressed. 
 

Healthy Habits to Combat Stress

While we know how detrimental Stress can be for our mental, physical and spiritual states, it’s important to find practices and develop habits to help ease the burden and restore ourselves to tranquility and harmony.

When we make these conscious connections and efforts to do good for ourselves, it has a ripple effect to so many other aspects of your life. Once you begin to get a grip and handle on stress and how it affects you, life becomes so much more pleasant and enjoyable.

Ultimately that’s what life should be and we should all be striving to be the happiest we can be. 

So what steps can we take and what practices can we put into place to help us achieve this harmony and balance?

  • Exercise – Our bodies were made to move and moving your body every single day is so important. Exercise can be such a wonderful tool in curbing your stress and dealing with built up tension. It’s a great form of release for the body and the mind, not to mention how great you feel after a good workout. This article on ‘How Stress Really Leads to Weight Gain’  is so informative and explains in depth how stress and added pressure can lead to weight gain. In a society where weight loss is a multi-million dollar market, and every one is trying the next diet that is promising results, isn’t it relieving to know that getting a handle on the stresses in your life, can ultimately help you in achieving your personal weight loss goals?
  • Routine – Finding a practice or form of exercise that really resonates with you, and trying hard to integrate it into your daily routine is a great way to stay active everyday. Release the mindset that exercise is torture, and rather enjoying that practice you’ve chosen that helps you to move your body is a great step to help relieve any tension, leaving a calmer, stress free state of mind. I love yoga as it instantly grounds me and helps clear my mind. If you have a body, you can do yoga. It helps me to stay focused, strong and aligned. Yoga has been such an important part of my lifestyle change, and is a practice that will stay with me forever.

  • Awareness – Being more aware of what triggers your ‘stress’ response. What reasons cause you to feel anxious and uptight? Becoming more aware of how certain situations have an affect on you can help you to steer clear of them. For situations that can’t be avoided you can minimize stress by being prepared. Being intentional about preparing for the future – with savings or Life Insurance or goals- is a great stress relief.
  • Slow Down – Take time to plan and organize ahead of time, allowing yourself to prioritize and get things done in a smoother efficient way without having to rush.
  • Laugh – Put yourself in more situations that cause you to laugh. Laughter increases your intake of oxygen, stimulates your heart, lungs, circulation, muscles and releases endorphins. All of which can help ease the symptoms of stress. Even a simple smile can help altar the chemical reactions taking place in your body, and steer you in a better direction.
  • Respond not React – Responding to a stressful situation can be so much more beneficial than reacting. Trying to respond to situations from a calm standpoint can be harder said than done, but once you learn how to, it can feel rather liberating and empowering to know that “you kicked the stressful situation in the butt”, and handled it in a calm manner. Things normally turn out so much better when we respond rather than reacting. 
  • Meditation – A meditation practice helps to slow the pace of things and your body responds by relaxing, counteracting the effects of toxic stress.
  • Sleep – Making sure you’re getting adequate rest is so important to a healthy balance state of mind. When our bodies and minds are tired and over worked, it’s difficult to get through your day without crashing and burning out. Getting at least 8 hours of blissful rest each night is vital, not only for our state of mind, but for our health.

  • Let it Go – Don’t get caught up in a whirlwind if you haven’t gotten to every single thing on your ‘To-Do’ list. Tomorrow is always another day. Remember to be kind to yourself, because you’re doing the best that you can. Let go of that attached anxiety and remember to breathe. The breath can be such a great tool for grounding and calming yourself down.
  • Breathe – Studies have shown that there is a definite link in breathing techniques and reduced stress. Breathing deeply into the pit of your belly and bathing your cells in oxygen is a great way to instantly calm yourself. The next time you’re feeling out of whack and stressed, take a moment to breath, and see how differently you feel afterwards.
  • Nature – The healing power of nature is astounding and has become a way of life for me. Putting on your walking shoes and heading out into the fresh air can be extremely beneficial in getting your mind off stressful situations and ‘re-setting’. I have made it a habit to get into nature as much as I can and I feel so great afterwards. 
  • Gratitude – Incorporating a gratitude practice into your life allows you to feel happy and appreciative for what you have. Over time, this way of thinking can train your mind to view situations from a positive point of view, and ultimately reducing toxic negative stress. I have a gratitude jar that I fill with little nuggets of appreciation, from the roof over my head to the clouds in the sky. I feel so happy and content after taking a moment to be grateful for what I have and what’s around me.  

This post was commissioned by Hippo.co.za, but all opinions are my own.

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