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5 Easy Ways to Beat Stress

5 Easy Ways to Beat Stress

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the stresses and strains of modern life, then you’re not alone. It is estimated that 77% of Americans experience physical symptoms of stress on a regular basis, while as many as 1 in 3 experience extreme stress at some point every week!

Some people believe this is down to the fact that we are now expected to work longer hours (sometimes around the clock), leaving us with less time to spend with family and friends. Others think the blame lies with our ever-growing obsession with money and status. Whatever the cause, the problem only seems to be getting worse.

Stress can have an enormous impact on our physical health. It is thought that 75–90% of all doctor’s visits are due to a stress-induced ailment. Feeling stressed on a regular basis has been linked with everything from an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, to depression, bipolar disorder and social anxiety. Clearly, we need to change the way we live before stress catches up with us. But what can we do? Here are 5 easy ways to beat stress that you can put into practice right now.

1. Tweak your diet to beat stress.

It is amazing how much of an impact tiny changes can have on your overall health and well-being. The same is true of keeping your stress levels at bay. One simple but effective way of beating stress is incorporating some high-quality dark chocolate into your day.

That’s right, you heard me: chocolate.

Although we might think of comfort-eating as a very bad way to cope with negative emotions, there is actually good reason to indulge in a small amount of dark chocolate if you’re feeling the pressure.

Chocolate contains several chemicals that closely resemble anandamide, an essential fatty acid proven to have a major role in alleviating feelings of stress and anxiety, and promoting feelings of happiness and contentment. It also contains compounds called N-acylethanolamines that inhibit the breakdown of anandamide, meaning more of it stays in the blood for longer. It is thought that these chemicals explain why chocolate has been used as a comfort food, delicacy, drug, and medicine throughout history.

Quite tellingly, the word anandamide is derived from ananda, the Sanskrit word for “bliss.”

Incorporating a small amount of high-quality dark chocolate into your daily diet can ensure that you have relatively high anandamide levels all-day long. This can have a profound impact on your stress levels.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should eat Hershey Bar after Hershey Bar every day. But by eating a few pieces of cocoa-rich chocolate when your stress levels creep up, you can take the edge off some of the worst symptoms, leaving you to get on with your day.

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There are lots of other easy ways to beat stress through your diet. Feeling anxious and depressed? Try eating more asparagus. This will ensure that you have a sufficient intake of folic acid. Folic acid deficiencies have been linked with a wide range of mental symptoms, including lethargy, depression, anxiety, and acute stress. Eating just one cup of asparagus can give you about half of your daily intake of folate; more than enough to see you through the morning feeling stress-free.

Another easy way to beat stress naturally is to up your fat intake. I don’t mean that you need to start visiting McDonald’s more. Consuming more trans and saturated fats won’t do a great deal for your stress levels. What you need to increase is your intake of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are known to help lower LDL cholesterol (also known as “bad” cholesterol) levels. This will, in turn, help keep your blood pressure low. Many of the more serious side effects of stress can be avoided if you keep your blood pressure within a normal, healthy range.

Try eating more healthy oils, olives, avocados and nuts on a daily basis. You don’t need to make drastic changes; just chop an avocado into your salad and drizzle on some olive oil, or have a bag of nuts with lunch. Easy, cheap, and effective.

2. Exercise right.

Easy Ways Beat Stress Exercise Correctly

    Most people know that exercise is a good way of keeping stress at bay. It lets us let out all the anger and frustration we might have stored up over the course of a busy day. Whether you prefer pounding on a punch bag, punishing yourself in the squat rack, or hitting the pavement, exercise is a good way to clear your head and let off some steam.

    However, a recent study found that all exercises are not created equal as far as stress management goes.

    Researchers from a Finnish University used rats to examine the impact on brain growth of three different types of exercise: steady state cardio, high intensity interval training, and weight/resistance training. Over the course of seven weeks, the three groups were put through their specified exercise regimen on a daily basis. At the end of the seven weeks, the researchers measured how much neurogenesis (or “brain growth”) had occurred in the hippocampus.

    The rats doing resistance training registered no extra neurogenesis in the hippocampus.

    The rats doing high intensity interval training exhibited some growth, but nothing too impressive.

    The rats doing regular steady state cardio, on the other hand, showed remarkable levels of neurogenesis. In the words of the NYT reporter who covered the story, their hippocampal tissue “teemed with new neurons.”

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    Why is that important? The hippocampus gets hit when we get stressed. It gets hit hard. Of all the “area”‘ of the brain, the hippocampus seems to be particularly sensitive to stress. If you find yourself stressed on a daily basis, then it’s likely that your hippocampus has experienced some degree of degeneration. This is serious: the hippocampus is largely responsible for memory, learning, and according to some, emotions.

    Steady state cardio can therefore serve as more than just a way of letting off some steam. Done regularly; it can help reverse some of the worst effects of chronic stress.

    3. Supplement smart.

    If you find that things like diet and exercise don’t help, then supplements might represent a quick and easy way to beat stress. Done intelligently, supplementing can actually help you eliminate stress from your daily life altogether.

    But isn’t that expensive?

    Buying top-of-the-range supplements can be expensive, but there’s no need to part with a big chunk of your hard-earned cash to eliminate stress from your life. While there are hundreds of pre-made supplement stacks designed to promote clear thinking and reduce anxiety, you can effectively lower your stress levels by taking the right combination of good value, un-branded vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts.

    For instance, if stress is keeping you up at night, you could try supplementing with some valerian root. This stuff has been used for centuries as a mild sedative, but its effects aren’t anywhere near as strong as prescription sleeping pills, and it’s nowhere near as side-effect ridden.

    You can get hold of this and similar supplements in any health food shop, and some pharmacies will stock it for sale over-the-counter. While it may not be immediately effective, it is definitely beneficial to start with a weaker sedative and work your way up to something stronger if necessary. If you just need something to help you relax of an evening, this might be a great place to start.

    Other natural extracts that are thought to have potent anxiolytic (stress-reducing) properties include Siberian Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Lemon Balm, Rhodiola Rosea, and St. John’s Wort. You may also be able to find some fairly cheap but effective relaxation teas to help you get a good night’s sleep.

    4. Have the right attitude.

    A way to beat stress immediately is to give yourself an attitude overhaul.

    Obviously, I’m not so naive as to think that you can just think your stress away. If you could do that, then you would have done so already.

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    But, we can change how we feel about the things that are causing us stress by acting differently towards them. The simple truth of the matter is: acting happy can make us happy.

    This isn’t some baseless spiel from a second-rate “life coach.” I am talking about a robustly supported psychological theory.

    Numerous experiments have found that people told to act in a certain way, i.e with confidence and certainty, tended to have greater confidence in their abilities when later questioned by researchers.

    You can even do a little experiment with yourself. Spend a whole morning acting sad, and you’ll almost certainly feel it for real by the afternoon.

    In the same way, it’s possible to significantly reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety simply by acting as though you don’t have a care in the world. This could be in simple ways, such as smiling more, or walking calmly with your head held high.

    Or it could be in more dramatic ways, such as leaving work on time every day, or turning off your phone in the evening. Whatever way you do it, just make sure that you do it consistently.

    After a few days of acting, talking and smiling as though you haven’t got a clue what “stress” means, you’re bound to feel a great deal better.

    5. Make your world stress-free.

    Quick Easy Ways to Beat Stress

      Your home should be your castle. More importantly, it should be a stress-free zone at all times—no excuses!

      There are some really easy ways to make sure that you don’t bring your stress home with you, and one of the simplest is to get a house plant. It shouldn’t surprise you that we have a deep biological affinity with plants; we just love being around them. It’s what we’re used to, evolutionarily speaking, and being in familiar surroundings helps us stay calm.

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      You don’t need to go crazy with these. Just get one for the hallway so it’s the first thing you see when you get home, and a couple more for around the house. Ideally, get something that doesn’t need a lot of attention, otherwise it might become another source of stress!

      Another good tactic to employ is to build yourself a “cleansing zone.” This will be really easy if you have a porch. Set yourself up a table near the front door, with space for your keys, phone, files, wallet, laptop, mail—pretty much anything that you bring through the door with you that keeps you away from your family.

      Go through everything when you get in, dealing with anything that needs to be dealt with. Once that is done, walk away. Do not return to the “cleansing zone” until you’re heading out for work the next day.

      This is a really simple tactic, but in my experience, it’s really effective at creating a mental barrier between your home life and your work life.

      6. Putting it all into practice!

      Putting all of this advice into practice in one go is probably not the best way to go about things. Instead, try picking a few simple things to do right away, and choose one or two things to start building into your daily routine.

      Start small, but be consistent. If you really want to eliminate stress from your life, then you need to understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

      Here are 5 easy steps to get you started:

      1. Buy a houseplant.
      2. Eat more avocado and have dark chocolate for dessert.
      3. Buy some relaxing herbal tea and drink a cup before bed.
      4. Take a long lunch every day where you don’t check your phone.
      5. Start running once a week.

      Once you’ve done all of these, pick something else. Pretty soon, you’ll forget why you even read this article. You might even forget why you cared!

      Featured photo credit: http://blog.gymlion.com/ via blog.gymlion.com

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      Eric Jackson

      Self-employed

      You Plan on Weight Loss But Just Can’t Suppress Appetite, These Food Are Your Way Out. 5 Easy Ways To Fit More Into Your Day Easy ways to beat stress and anxiety naturally 5 Easy Ways to Beat Stress

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      Published on November 14, 2018

      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

      With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

      For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

      In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

      Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

      Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

      It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

      For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

      Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

      Symptoms of Fatigue

      Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

      • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
      • mental blocks
      • lack of motivation
      • headache
      • dizziness
      • muscle weakness
      • slowed reflexes and responses
      • impaired decision-making and judgement
      • moodiness, such as irritability
      • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
      • reduced immune system function
      • blurry vision
      • short-term memory problems
      • poor concentration
      • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

      Causes of Fatigue

      The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

      • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
      • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
      • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
      • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

      Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

      Medical Causes of Fatigue

      If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

      Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

      Anemia

      Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

      Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

      There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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      This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

      Diabetes

      Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

      Sleep Apnea

      Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

      Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

      Thyroid disease

      An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

      Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

      • Lack of sleep
      • Too much sleep 
      • Alcohol and drugs 
      • Sleep disturbances 
      • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
      • Poor diet 

      Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

      • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
      • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
      • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
      • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

      Psychological Causes of Fatigue

      Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

      • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
      • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
      • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

      How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

      Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

      1. Tell The Truth

      Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

      To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

      Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

      The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

      One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

      • How you feel
      • What time of day it is
      • What may have contributed to your fatigue
      • How your mind and body reacts

      This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

      2. Reduce Your Commitments

      When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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      If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

      When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

      Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

      3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

      If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

      Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

      If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

      Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

      Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

      4. Express More Gratitude

      Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

      It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

      Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

      5. Focus On Yourself

      Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

      There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

      But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

      We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

      6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

      Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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      Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

      The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

      Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

      7. Take a Power Nap

      When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

      Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

      This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

      8. Take More Exercise

      The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

      Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

      The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

      You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

      9. Get More Quality Sleep

      To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

      Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

      My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

      10. Improve Your Diet

      Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

      Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

      On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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      To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

      Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

      Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

      11. Manage Your Stress Levels

      Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

      When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

      Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

      My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

      12. Get Hydrated

      Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

      Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

      If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

      The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

      The Bottom Line

      These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

      If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

      Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
      [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
      [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
      [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
      [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
      [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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