Stress is the body’s way of responding to excessive pressures. Our body goes into the fight or flight or stress response mode to handle the overwhelming feeling of not being able to cope. When we feel stressed, our nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. This can make our heart pound faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and our senses become sharper. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress. Physical exercise can relieve mental stress and has many benefits in the long term. The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who don’t exercise. There are many reasons why exercise is a benefit to reducing stress. One of which is that it lowers your body’s stress hormone cortisol which helps release endorphins that improves our moods. It also improves our quality of sleep which can positively impact our stress and anxiety. Activities that involves repetitive movements of large muscle groups such as walking or jogging can be particularly stress relieving.
Mindfulness describes practices that anchor you to the present moment. It can help combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking and stress. There are several methods for increasing mindfulness, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga and meditation.
Deep breathing exercises can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response. The goal of deep breathing is to focus your awareness on your breath, making it slower and deeper. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly rises. This helps slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel more peaceful.
Writing things down is one way to handle stress. While recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for. Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life.
Laughing is good for your health and helps relieve stress. It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re laughing. By laughing you relieve your stress response and tension in your muscles. In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood. Try watching a funny TV show or hanging out with friends who make you laugh.
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