April is Stress Awareness Month, but for many people, dealing with stress is a daily struggle, which cannot be completely eliminated from our lives. It can be caused by a variety of positive life events, including getting married, getting a promotion at work, having a baby, and college graduation to name a few. It can also be the result of negative life situations. This many include a chronic health problem, divorce, a car accident, or loss of employment. Any event that causes a strong emotional reaction could lead to stress.

Symptoms of Stress

The symptoms of stress can present themselves in a variety of ways. Some people experience physical manifestations of stress such as, frequent headaches, neck aches, stomach pain, or lightheadedness. Others experience symptoms such as, forgetfulness, depression, overreactions to small things, or compulsive behaviors.

Many of these symptoms are the result of how the different body systems handle stress. For example, when you are stressed, your muscles will often tense up. This could lead to headaches, migraines, and sore muscles in other parts of your body.

Unfortunately, stress can also influence the senses, including negatively impacting a person’s sense of touch or hurting the person’s ability to properly remember past events. There are many other physical and emotional symptoms of stress. While you cannot always eliminate the causes of stress, there are several things you can do better battle the effects of it.

Tips to Combat Stress

Practice breathing techniques. This may include doing ten 10-second breaths. Breathe in for four seconds, focusing on your stress, and then breathe out for six seconds, letting the stress go. You could also try breathing in while thinking of a good memory and breathing out to let go of the stressful feeling.

Include stress-busting foods in your diet. This could include oatmeal, which boosts your serotonin, a chemical that helps to calm your brain. Foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges, can limit the influences of stress hormones while also boosting your immune system. Other healthy foods can also help you to feel less stressed by giving you the energy to battle stressful situations.

Spend time with an animal. Pets, such as dogs and cats, help people to feel less stress. They also provide social support and help people to not feel lonely. Owning a pet can also encourage you to get more exercise, which is another great way to relieve stress. Even if you do not own an animal, it might be a good idea to volunteer to pet sit for a friend, as spending time around animals can trigger the release of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone.

Get a massage. A massage helps to push away stressful feelings, allowing you to relax. Even if you are not able to book a massage therapy appointment, giving yourself a hand massage can help relieve stress.

Laugh. Laughter is another great way to get rid of stress. It can soothe tension and allow you to relax. It also increases your oxygen intake, which encourages your brain to release endorphins, making you feel happier.

Listen to music. While not all music is going to help reduce stress, classical music or music with slower beats can help calm you, thereby helping you to relax and feel less stressed.

Exercise. Get moving to de-stress your day. Starting a daily exercise routine can be beneficial as cardiovascular exercise like jogging and swimming are natural stress reducers.

Of course, there are many other things you can do to relieve stress in your life. Different people have found different techniques work well for them when it comes to getting rid of stressful feelings. The key is finding what works for you, and continuing to use that technique or a combination of techniques.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20170111/Stress-hormone-has-major-effect-on-perception-and-perceptual-learning.aspx

http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/de-stress-in-under-a-minute

http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/18-most-common-causes-of-stress/slide/1

http://www.stress.org/daily-life/

http://www.stress.org/stress-effects/

https://www.verywell.com/how-owning-a-dog-or-cat-can-reduce-stress-3144701

http://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-diet-for-stress-management