When you feel stressed, the body springs into action. When under too much pressure, it can cause the body’s endocrine system to pump out intense levels of hormones. These can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of catching illness. Many people will feel irritable and have a shorter fuse than normal. They may also suffer headaches, nausea and tiredness.
Fortunately, when a stressful situation cannot be changed, there are techniques that can restore your sense of sanity and help you control the way you cope.
Meditation has been found to relieve stress. Sit in a quiet room and in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and choose a mantra (“I am calm” for example) to focus on and repeat. Continue this for 10 minutes each day.
Studies have also found music can reduce blood pressure and stress hormones. Try to find time to listen to soothing music and just relax.
Practise a “time travel” exercise. When you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, remember the last time you felt like that and how you got past it. Try projecting yourself a year into the future and look back at how important the present situation really is.
Chamomile tea has been praised for its healing properties since ancient Greece. Today, it is estimated that one million cups of chamomile tea are consumed each day. Try to drink one cup, three times a day.
Make time for a relaxing soak. Add aromatherapy oils and Epsom salts to your bathwater for a stress-relieving experience. Sandalwood and ylang-ylang in particular are known for their relaxation properties.
Try an evening walk or another form of exercise. Try to do this for at least 20 minutes, three times a week. Exercise promotes the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins. These lift your mood and can ease feelings of anxiety.
Studies show that “touch therapies” such as reflexology and massage lead to a reduction in the production of stress hormones. Interestingly, research has also found that when successful people learn to give massage, both the masseuse and client experience stress-relief.
Take up a calming hobby. For example, gardening, knitting, drawing, reading or another favourite activity can help you to take a moment away from the stresses of everyday life and just breathe.