I am sure that you have heard the expression “stress kills.” There is some truth to this statement. When you stress the body responds by releasing adrenal hormones like cortisol into the bloodstream. When your cortisol levels are elevated over a long period of time they make your body more susceptible to disease. Diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers and other serious illnesses.
The following stress reduction techniques will help lessen the effects of stress on our bodies. The reference I used for the following techniques came from a book titled “The Essentials of Natural Medicine”.
Deep Breathing - One key to reducing stress is proper breathing. Every time we breathe in, cells are replenished with oxygen. When we breathe out, carbon dioxide and other toxins are released from the lungs. Studies show that deep breathing relaxes the mind calm as the nervous system improves mental focus and improves energy.
To practice deep breathing find a quiet place, stand or sit up straight with your belly and chest relaxed breathing through your nose, count to five, slowly hold for two seconds and then exhale through your mouth. If you are breathing properly you will notice that your chest should expand outward when you inhale. As you breathe out your stomach should flatten.
Laughter A good laugh can go a long way toward reducing the effects of stress. Research shows that laughter prevents inflammatory triggers that lead to heart damage and it reduces stress.
Yoga has become a popular way to relax the body. It involves deep breathing, stretching and meditation. There are many different types of yoga; do your research to find a style that is best for you. A good place to start your research is www.youtube.com . In case you don’t know what to search for, try Vinyasa, Bikram, Hatha and so many more. Most gyms offer yoga as well. In addition, there are many yoga studios.
Music Therapy - Music can energize you when you are tired and relax you when you are stressed. It can make you laugh and even cry. There have been many studies that show how music affects the neurological system. One such study was done by psychologists from McGill University. The psychologists looked at the body’s neurochemical systems for reward, motivation and stress. They found that the effects of music can boost the body’s immune system, reduce anxiety and regulate your mood.
Researchers believe that listening to music may stimulate the release of natural opioids within the brain. Think about that for a minute. There are no negative or adverse side effects of this natural release, it’s essentially free, it’s natural and convenient.
Prayer One of the most powerful relaxation techniques is prayer. Whatever stresses you are dealing with turn them over to the Creator. Pray for peace, calm, and happiness. Make prayer a daily habit and it will help you relax and relieve stress.
Exercise is one of the simplest and most underrated ways to reduce stress in the body. Exercise has been shown in numerous studies to be very effective in reducing anxiety and depression. In fact, exercise increases endorphins in your body. Endorphins are feel good hormones released when you exercise. If you work out with a friend or in a gym, exercise allows you an opportunity for social interaction. Consider exercises that benefit your cardiovascular system like walking, biking, swimming, hiking, dancing, etc. Also, try to build lean muscle and bone density through weightlifting. Warm yourself up before vigorous exercise and afterwards remember to cool down with stretching to prevent soreness and injury. Remember to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
As with anything, the more you practice these or any stress relieving techniques the more helpful they become in preventing and reducing the effects of stress.