Stress and anxiety is something we all experience at some time or another. I want to make it clear, though, if you’re reaching unbearable levels of stress, that articles like this may not be as helpful as professional help. A friend of mine recently started taking medication for anxiety due to a couple of life-changing events and he says it’s the best decision he’s made.
However, if you’re getting ground down by the demands of the day, here are a couple options that could help.
LISTEN TO MUSIC
A study by Mindlab International, conducted by Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson, found that the song Weightless by Marconi Union reduced overall anxiety by 65 percent and physiological resting rate by 35 percent.
Music has the power to trigger biochemical stress reducers, which, as per the name, reduce stress in a natural chemical reaction. A playlist of nature sounds such as birdsong, wind through trees or a remote stream running over rocks often reduces stress, anxiety and blood pressure through our instinctive reactions to the sounds. Alternatively, you can reduce stress by bouncing to some more upbeat tunes, or singing as loud as you can (the shower is the best stadium in my opinion).
Just about any walk or time spent outside moving can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins, but for maximum stress reduction, a recent study says you should hit up a place with lots of green, like a park or a bush walk. This is due to something called ‘involuntary reflection’, which allows for the brain to enter a sort of state of meditation. Walking in nature also help boost cognitive functioning and fight mental fatigue.
THINK ABOUT OTHERS
Okay, bear with us. It’s exactly what your parents would spout when you were younger, but it works. A 2015 study from the Clinical Psychological Science journal had 77 adults keep a diary for two weeks about their daily stressors, and how often they helped others (everything from holding a door open for strangers to helping their kids with homework). They also rated their mental health for each day. In the end, they found that ‘helpers’ felt less stressed (even though they still had plenty of stressors), and a lot happier than those who didn’t engage in what the researchers termed “prosocial behaviors”.
Dehydration decreases cardiac output, which leads to less blood flow and oxygen for the brain, making you feel fatigued and stressed out. Aim to drink 2-3 litres of good quality water each day to help keep alert, focused and stress-free.
This will help keep your blood sugar levels steady and prevent fatigue, headaches and stress caused by low glucose levels. Eat well-balanced, nutrient-dense meals and snacks and try to avoid consuming too much sugar and caffeine.