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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

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    Mayowa Koiki

    Freelance Writer. Entrepreneur. An Avid Student of Life

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark Chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko Biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and Black Tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    More About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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