75%-90% of all doctor visits are stress related. When stress goes untreated it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Poor nutrition, environment, career, unhealthy relationships, and lifestyle can all impact your body by releasing cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. While it’s normal to release cortisol, it’s important for your body to return to its normal cortisol levels following a stressful event. In our high-stress culture though, your body doesn’t always have the chance to return to its normal cortisol levels, so your body is constantly in fight or flight mode which makes you more prone to several negative effects.
Here are five tips to help you reduce your stress instantly:
1. Make lists
You’re busy and have tons to juggle. Writing things down, creating lists, and prioritizing tasks is one of the quickest fixes for reducing daily stress. I recommend keeping a list of everything you need to get done for the day, then reorganizing these tasks in order of importance. I also suggest completing the least exciting or hardest task before 11:00am. Our willpower and focus is only good for so long, so put your energy towards finishing the most stressful work for the day earlier on. That way by 11am you can take a big sigh of relief, because the rest of the day just got easier.
2. Move your body
Our bodies crave movement. Find something you have fun doing and make it part of your daily routine. Exercise is a way of releasing built up tension, so instead of reaching for the sugar and booze, get your body moving if you’re stressed. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout. Get off the subway a little early and walk the rest of the way to work, or take a work break to stand up and stretch at your desk. You’ll feel much better! Find a type of exercise that works for your body’s needs. What did you like to do as a kid? What makes you feel good?
Do you ever experience moments where you realize that you haven’t been breathing? I mean, really breathing, like from the belly. Start breathing consciously. Slow your breath down and allow your body to relax for a moment. Can you see your belly moving in and out or are you just breathing through your nose? Breathe in for four counts and out for four counts, breathing through the belly.
Loving touch is so important to our mental health. We crave affection and not all of us get it on a regular basis. Give yourself some love. Try massaging yourself. Do you have tension in your shoulders? Your temples? Your neck? Breathe consciously and use your hands to make yourself feel good!
5. Lavender essential oils
Essential oils have been used for centuries for healing. Lavender oil has many therapeutic effects, and it’s a personal favorite for relaxing the mind and body and reducing stress. Poor sleep is often a result of stress, so lavender oil is especially useful at night before bed. I like to put a couple drops on my hands to rub over my pillows. I’ll also put a couple drops on the back of my neck to relieve tension, and there are tons of other uses and methods for applying lavender oil.