April is Stress Awareness Month, a time to reflect on how stress affects your personal health and well-being. You may be thinking, "When am I not aware of stress?" But all of us—no matter how anxious we are—can learn something new about how to handle the stress in our lives. Follow these scientifically-proven techniques to manage your stress the healthy way.
1. Sit up straight.
Chances are good that you're reading this at your desk right now. Your spine is probably concave, curved ever so slightly forward; your chin is jutting towards your computer screen, and your hips have sunk deep into your chair. Did you know that your posture influences your psychology, and that contracted positions can cause you to feel stressed out? Remember the words of your mother and take a second to sit up straight.
2. Listen to relaxing music.
The incredible power music can have on our mind and body has been documented for hundreds of years. Slow, quiet classical music has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormones.
3. Have a laugh.
You know how watching a good comedy wipes your worries away for a little while? There are scientific reasons behind this: laughter increases your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your vital organs, and soothes your stress response.
It's common knowledge that physical activity releases endorphins in the body, but were you aware that aerobic exercise actually helps build new neurons and connections in the brain? Chronic stress is often responsible for destroying these connections, but regular exercise can help build them back up.
5. Try aromatherapy.
Soothing scents like lavender and sandalwood can help reduce constant worrying, while energizing scents like grapefruit and bergamot can improve your mood.
6. Take a deep breath.
A lack of oxygen makes us feel tired and generally "down." When you feel stressed, taking a moment to simply breathe deeply and follow a few breathing exercises can make a huge difference in the way you feel.
7. Practice mindful meditation.
Sitting still and focusing on your breath may seem easy in theory, but it's one of the hardest things you can do. Fortunately, it's also one of the most beneficial. Being mindful of our thoughts allows us to separate ourselves from stress and manage anxiety. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found 47 trials suggesting that mindfulness meditation can help ease anxiety, depression, and pain.
8. Organize your space.
UCLA researchers discovered that simply looking at a messy space can cause the body to produce stress hormones. By keeping your workplace and your home less cluttered, you automatically reduce the clutter in your mind.
Social activities decrease sensations of loneliness and take our minds off of stressors. Joining a meetup group, chatting with a friend, and spending time with family are all great ways to promote important feelings of belonging, security, and happiness.
10. Think positively.
It's easy to wallow in worry at times, but positive thinking helps more than just your mood. Over time, positive thoughts release neuropeptides that reduce stress and strengthen your immune system.
11. Get enough sleep.
Several studies have demonstrated the harmful effects that inadequate sleep can have on your stress levels. An exhausted brain is constantly in fight-or-flight mode, even if you have nothing to be stressed about! Keep those stress levels down by getting enough sleep every night.
12. Take Royal Velvet.
Speaking of sleep, Royal Velvet is among the best supplements you can take to get a good night's rest. It helps your brain replenish its neurotransmitters while delivering vital nutrients to your cells, allowing them to function in tip-top shape. Healthy cells are happy cells, and happy cells tell your brain that it can relax. Start living stress-free with the help of the extraordinary nutrients found in Royal Velvet!
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/meaganjean/3475199344/