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Stressed Out? 4 Simple Tricks To Help You Reduce Stress At Home

Stressed Out? 4 Simple Tricks To Help You Reduce Stress At Home

We all have those days that we wish was not ours. Many things happen that get us antsy: The system that won’t power up, even though your deadline to submit your work is due; the car that failed to start in the morning which caused you to get to work late, and earned yourself a query letter from your boss, as result. Sometimes, it looks as if the universe conspired against you for no reason.

Getting to Know How Your Brain Works During Distress

No one wakes up and wishes for things to go against them. But the unexpected does happen. That’s life!

Here is what the brain does when the unexpected happens: you think of what the reaction might be or what this will result in. And your brain goes haywire. It tries to defend you. But it does this job poorly, and now, you have this thing called stress.

Stress is your body’s reaction to harmful events or an unfavorable condition.

Psychologists call it “fight or flight”. That is, when the unexpected happens, your body or brain goes through can be called “should I fight this or let it go?” moments. You’re thinking about what’s wrong, at the same time you want to find a solution to it. This causes anxiety, depression, your blood pressure rises and so on.

But then, psychologists have also devised several means to combat stress, reduce it, or simply managing it. Or always putting yourself in a state where things don’t always get this bad.

Relaxation responses [1] are opposites of “fight or flight”: instead of reacting to what’s wrong, you respond and that’s taking charge of your body and mind, attempting to bring calmness into your body both mentally and physically.

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In case you also battle stress from time to time, the following are easy or simple tricks you can employ to relief your stress – they don’t cost a thing, just your time.

4 Four Tricks to Help You Reduce Stress at Home:

1. Play Soothing, Nature Music

The consensus conception is that music is only for pleasure. But if recent evidence by researchers is anything to go by,  music is way more than what most of us thought of it. Simply put: music should be your primary “go-to” stress reliever where you’re down. The reason being, it costs nothing unlike drugs, and it’s always readily available.

Now, how does music reduce stress? One of the signs that you’re distressed, anxious is that your heart beats faster than normal, but psychologists have reported that listening to music—slow soothing music, in particular—helps slow the heart rate.

How? According to a research carried out at the Israel Medical Center’s Louis Amstrong Center for Music and Medicine, mothers were told to sing lullabies to their premature babies and obviously disturbed babies. And the result? They noticed the babies’ heart rate slowed down and they stayed quieter and more alert than before.[2]

The same researchers were also able to prove music is capable of distracting one from pains and in some cases more effective than drugs. Music therapists found that patients who listen to music before a surgery is performed on them were reported to feel less pain compared to those who took a drug or some sort of pain relievers.

David Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music said “we’ve found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a health-care role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics”

Bringing Slow Music to Your Life…

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Whenever you’re feeling distressed, consider listening to music, specifically a slow one. Have a playlist comprising of slow music and listen to them. There are also some Youtube channels that are tailored to relieve you of the stress.

2. Deep breathing

One of those ways to activate relaxation response is through deep breathing, and this probably the easiest of all tricks. Yes, the normal breathing is something you do all the time – only this time, it is intentional and it’s actually deeper.

You will hear people call this many names like diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing and so on. But it’s still the usual breathing in and out.

When you breathe, you inhale fresh oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. If you’re wondering why doctors tell patient to take a deliberate but slow breath, before checking their blood pressure, here it is: slow breathing helps lower the heart rate and helps stabilize one’s blood pressure otherwise known as hypertension.[3]

How to Get Started With Deep Breathing

This technique is actually an age-long way of calming one’s mind down. Though it only started gaining mainstream attention in the west a few decades ago, it’s been pretty much practiced in the east by yogis.

All you have to do is find somewhere quiet and distraction free. Slowly breathe in and out, visualize or watch air go into your body and coming out through the nostrils. It’s that simple, and you don’t need more 5-10 minutes of practice a day.

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    3. Mindfulness Meditation

    If anyone told you that that problem that is trying to crush your soul right now isn’t really there, that it is just your mind meddling with your thought, that it is all up in your head, would you take them seriously?

    Of course, you won’t. But maybe you should.

    Your car broke down, you got late to work, and your boss gave you a query letter asking for a cogent reason why you were late to work. Now you are thinking this will lead to you being sacked. Maybe it won’t. Maybe he just wants to know. But your mind is already cooking up a story. A dangerous one! Now you want to fight it. You’re imagining yourself being jobless.

    Mindful meditation which also includes deliberate breathing, the closing of one’s eyes and sitting calmly, allows you shift your mind away from the problem for some time, which allows you to see things the way they are.One way to silence the chatterbox in your head is through mindful meditation.

    But that’s not all, there is more to meditation, and researchers have also found that mindful meditation helps cure diseases such as anxiety disorder, asthma, depression, high blood pressure, increase your ability to focus for an extended period time and sleep problems. [4]

    Meditation was practiced for thousands of years in the east by different people, and so it takes different forms, but still, they all aim for the same thing, and it all depends on the one each individual finds most convenient.

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    • Guided meditation: Some people do this while listening to an audio where someone is telling them what to do. Usually, with your eyes closed, you’re told to engage your mind’s eye and focus on visualising the air going through you as you breathe. This also improves one’s ability to focus.
    • Mantra meditation: As the name implies, you do this by sitting calmly in a distraction-free environment while you repeating a word or phrase to ensure you’re focused and not distracted.

    4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

    Muscle tension is one of many ways your body reacts to anxiety and fear. If you notice, whenever you find yourself in an uncomfortable position, you find yourself sitting or standing upright. You stiffen your muscles, which leads to pain or aches in that part of the body.

    If that sounds like you, then Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is what you need. PMR is an exercise that helps you release those tighten muscles. Here is how simple and effective this is from personal experience:

    When I’m stressed or feeling anxious, my veins seem to grow and bulges out for anyone to see. Thanks to the knowledge of PMR, once I notice this, I hold my fist tightly for some seconds and then release it. Immediately, the veins won’t disappear from sight. This is said to not only return the muscles to their normal state, it makes them better.

    How Do You Do PRM?

    You do this by tensing the muscles in your body and releasing them after a few seconds— specifically 6-10. Start from your toe to your head.

    Reference

    More by this author

    Mayowa Koiki

    Freelance Writer. Entrepreneur. An Avid Student of Life

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

    So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

    1. Exercise

    It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

    2. Drink in Moderation

    I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

    3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

    Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

    4. Watch Less Television

    A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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    Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

    5. Eat Less Red Meat

    Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

    If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

    6. Don’t Smoke

    This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

    7. Socialize

    Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

    8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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    9. Be Optimistic

    Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

    10. Own a Pet

    Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

    11. Drink Coffee

    Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

    12. Eat Less

    Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

    13. Meditate

    Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

    Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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    How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

    14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

    15. Laugh Often

    Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

    16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

    Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

    17. Cook Your Own Food

    When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

    Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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    18. Eat Mushrooms

    Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

    19. Floss

    Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

    20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

    Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

    Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

    21. Have Sex

    Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

    More Health Tips

    Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

    Reference

    [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
    [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
    [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
    [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
    [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
    [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
    [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
    [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
    [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
    [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
    [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
    [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
    [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
    [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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