Mental stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, signaling to the body that it is necessary to switch to the “hit or run” mode. During this reaction, stress hormones are released and you experience physical symptoms, such as heart palpitations, rapid breathing, and narrowing of blood vessels.
Deep breathing will help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation reaction.
There are several types of deep breathing exercises, including diaphragmatic, abdominal, and rhythmic breathing.
Exercise is one of the most effective stress management methods. This may seem contradictory, but physical tension in the body, which is achieved through exercise, can relieve mental stress.
The benefits are most noticeable if you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to be anxious, unlike those who lead less active lifestyles.
There are several reasons for this:
- Stress hormones. Exercise reduces the level of stress hormones in your body, such as cortisol. They also help release endorphins, which are mood-enhancing chemicals that act as natural painkillers.
- Sleep. Exercise can also improve the quality of your sleep, which is equally important for stress management.
- Confidence. When you exercise regularly, you feel more confident in your body, which in turn contributes to mental well-being.
Take supplements and vitamins
Here are a few supplements that help reduce stress and anxiety:
- Melissa. Melissa is a member of the peppermint family. She is known for her anti-anxiety action.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. One study found that medical students who received omega-3 supplements had reduced anxiety symptoms by 20%.
- Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat stress and anxiety.
- Green tea. Green tea contains many polyphenol antioxidants, which are very good for your health. They reduce stress and tension by increasing serotonin levels.
- Valerian. Valerian root has a calming effect. It contains valerianic acid, which alters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, thereby reducing anxiety.
- Kava kava. Kava kava is a psychoactive member of the pepper family. Long used as a sedative in the South Pacific, it has increasingly been used in Europe and the United States to treat mild stress and anxiety.
Some supplements may interact with medications or have side effects, so it’s best to consult a doctor before using them.
Using essential oils or scented candles can reduce anxiety. Some aromas are especially soothing, among them:
- Rose flower.
- Roman camomile.
Using aromas to improve your mental state is called aromatherapy. Several studies show that aromatherapy can reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
For super easy and quick stress relief, try chewing gum. One study found that people who chewed gum felt more comfortable and less stressed.
One possible explanation for this is that chewing gum causes brain waves similar to relaxation. In addition, chewing gum promotes blood flow to the brain.
Learn to say no
You are not able to control all the stress factors, but some can still. Take control of the parts of life that can be changed, thereby reducing anxiety and stress.
One way to do this is to say no more often. This is especially important if you find that you are taking on more than you can afford, since juggling more responsibilities can ultimately lead to depression.
Be selective about what you are up to and discard things that create unnecessary stress – this will reduce your stress level.
Yoga has become a popular stress reliever among all age groups. While yoga styles vary, most have a common goal – to combine body and mind.
Some studies have studied the effects of yoga on mental health. In general, studies have shown that yoga can improve mood and can even be as effective as antidepressants in treating depression and anxiety.
The benefits of yoga seem to be related to its effect on the nervous system and reaction to stress. It can lower cortisol levels, blood pressure and heart rate, increase the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that decreases with mood disorders.
Hugs, kisses and sex help relieve nervous tension. Positive physical contact releases oxytocin and lowers cortisol levels. This leads to a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, which are physical symptoms of stress.
Interestingly, humans are not the only living creatures that cuddle to relieve stress. Chimpanzees also hug friends who are stressed.
Listen to soothing music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body. Slow instrumental music can trigger a relaxation reaction, helping to lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be especially soothing, but just listening to the music you like is also effective.
The sounds of nature can also be very soothing. That is why they are often included in music for relaxation and meditation.
Spend time with your pet
Having a pet reduces stress and improves your mood.
Interaction with domestic animals releases oxytocin, a brain chemical that promotes a positive mood.
Although stress and nervous tension often occur both in the workplace and in personal life, there are many simple methods that help to cope with unnecessary anxiety. Try the methods presented in this article to find the one that will be most effective for you.