We all deal with stress on a regular basis, and to some degree it is normal and healthy. However, when stress levels become too high, it can have a negative impact on your health. Stress can contribute to symptoms of anxiety, stomach pain, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, weight changes, and many others. Whether it be work stress, family stress, financial stress, or from anywhere else, emotional stress is one of the pillars of health that can contribute to disease. Below are six simple ways to reduce stress in your day-to-day life.

1. Sleep

For healthy brain chemistry, getting quality sleep is vital. The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of quality sleep.  If you are not waking feeling refreshed after getting an adequate amount of sleep, you may not be getting quality sleep. If you are having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or not waking feeling rested, talk to your healthcare provider about changes you can make to help improve your sleep quality. This could include evaluation for sleep apnea or a salivary hormone test to check for hormone imbalances.

2. Exercise

Regular exercise is not only healthy for your body, but also healthy for your mind.  There are so many ways to get moving! You could try walking, running, biking, yoga, lifting weights, hiking, playing tennis, or swimming. Finding an activity that you enjoy doing on a regular basis will help to raise endorphins and help promote healthy brain chemistry.

3. Blood sugar control

Sometimes when we are stressed, we have the tendency to over or under eat. This can lead to extreme spikes and drops in blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops your body releases cortisol, a stress hormone that can eventually keep you in a constant state of restlessness. Eating healthy fats and lean protein throughout the day can maintain your blood sugar and prevent this stress response from happening.

4. Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can help to change your focus or outlook when you’re faced with a stressful situation.  This can also be practiced through meditation or prayer.

5. Social connection

Connecting with people on a deeper level can make a great difference. Spending time with people who provide positive reinforcement in your life can help reduce the stress you carry. Getting involved with a group or club, having dinner with a friend or loved one, chatting over coffee, or a phone call with someone who understands you can help to reduce your stress.

6. Finding purpose

We all have different outlets for our stress, ways that we unwind or things that help us relax. Finding and making time for these activities can give your life purpose and meaning and make the stress that you are feeling seem more manageable.

~ Kyla Sheldon, PA-C

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