Five Ways to Reduce Stress

Stress comes in many shapes and sizes and can be difficult to manage, especially when a circumstance seems out of our control. And most everyone experiences stress on a regular basis, from getting stuck in traffic and arriving late to an important appointment to dealing with an unexpected car repair to taking care of a sick family member. It does seem near impossible to get through life without stressors. But there are simple actions you can take to help you better cope with stress. Here are five things you can incorporate into your life to help keep stress at bay:

  • Eat Better. Stress can create emotional eating—eating when angry, depressed, fearful, etc. And stress produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone in the body that helps control blood pressure, immune function, glucose metabolism and more. High levels of cortisol in the body have been shown to produce negative effects, including an increase in craving sweet and salty foods. The next time you’re feeling stressed and craving a not-so-good-for-you food, reach for a food high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, or whole grain pasta. Complex carbohydrates help produce serotonin, a feel-good chemical.
  • Exercise. When the body is stressed it increases adrenaline and cortisol, chemicals that create a fight or flight mode. And exercise increases feel good chemical known as endorphins.
  • Get Enough Sleep. Sleep helps to restore muscle tissue and to restore the body’s energy supplies that have been depleted throughout the day, including mental energy. When the body is deprived of sleep it can create more irritability.
  • Socialize. There’s nothing more comforting than spending time with a good friend when a life stressor brings you down. It’s sometimes good to vent, and in turn, you may get some positive advice on how to deal with life stressors.
  • Time Management. Whenever you need to be somewhere important, give yourself an extra 10-15 minutes to get where you need to be.