Learn to Destress in the Most Stressful of Times

destress concept

The past year has been the most stressful of times in decades. The pandemic, lockdowns, and political tensions can put anyone on the edge — and the rising number of overdoses is a harsh testament of how meds can be abused. Get rid of stress without taking pills with safe and natural solutions.

1. Spend Time Relaxing

Taking a break from the rigors of your daily routine can be enough to prevent a physical, emotional, or mental breakdown. Spend a few minutes enjoying a cup of tea, listening to calm music, or reading a few pages from your favorite book. Meditation can enhance your brain’s production of alpha waves and send you into a state of wakeful relaxation.

However, that same state can also be reached through praying, biofeedback (trying to consciously lower your heartbeat), learning something new, or just doing the crosswords. Take your breaks alone or with like-minded people — office talk can be toxic, and stress can pile on with the wrong conversations.

2. Exercise

Going for a run might not be relaxing — but it gives your body a way to release pent-up stress. Your instinctive fight or flight response might not be suitable for the office. Unable to fight or escape, both your body and mind accumulate feelings of stress. Exercising after work allows your body to act out its instincts, either through running, hitting the bags, or just lifting weights.

Moderate exercise also forces your body to breathe properly. Meditation and yoga often teach diaphragmatic breathing — but running a lap or two will have you breathing through your diaphragm automatically. Diaphragmatic breathing reduces the cortisol levels in your body — controlling the amount of stress hormones. Regular exercise also helps maintain (or reduce) your weight, allowing you to live a healthier life while feeling good about the way you look.

3. Bask in the Sun

jogging

Lockdowns gave a good part of the populace an extended version of winter blues. Feelings of depression usually spike during winters due to lack of sunlight, and constantly staying indoors achieves the same results. Take 15-20-minute walks in the sun, or take your morning coffee on the porch. Sunlight increases your body’s production of serotonin, a hormone that balances your mood and regulates your biological clock.

A few minutes under the sun also prompts your body to produce vitamin D. Several studies have found that vitamin D deficiency often leads to harsher symptoms in patients suffering from COVID-19 and other diseases that affect the lungs.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is the only time your body switches from the catabolic to the anabolic phase. Rest and recovery typically occur during the anabolic phase, when the body can repair damaged cells by utilizing protein. Deep sleep is required for the switch, which is why people suffering from sleep apnea often wake up still exhausted. Your body needs enough sleep — and the right kind of sleep — to recover from everyday stress. Try to avoid consuming caffeine after 5 pm and avoid your phone or any kind of bright screen a couple of hours before going to bed. If your biological clock is already messed up, a few minutes under the bright sun should set it straight.

5. Connect with people

Connecting with friends and family is essential to happiness at a neurochemical level. Physical contact with people you care for and love releases the hormone oxytocin in your body. Oxytocin is commonly referred to as the “love hormone” as it evokes feelings of belonging, safety, security, and warmth. A drop in oxytocin can leave you feeling alone, isolated, persecuted., and paranoid. Schedule visits with family who are unable or unwilling to travel. A few hours of talking face-to-face can eliminate feelings of isolation, as well as ennui and melancholy.

Helping Friends and Family

Sometimes people need help to deal with stress. Check up on family and start conversations with friends. Offer advice on how to relax, or just be a willing ear or shoulder to cry on. Encourage people to join a running group or a yoga club — or start one yourself for your particular group. Go the distance by learning how to teach Yoga and meditation, or train to be a personal trainer. Yoga instructors and fitness trainers often earn more than $60,000 a year and you can increase those numbers by taking a personal trainer continuing education course.

Stress is ever-present, but it can be easily managed through safe and natural means. Take charge of your body’s neurochemical systems and get rid of stress to a deeper degree.

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