Five advices for combating stress

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Stress can harm our physical and mental health: it may have a negative impact on our mood, cause insomnia and the development of several chronical diseases. However, avoiding stress is not an easy task.” Nowadays, the job market is extremely demanding, we face an overwhelming amount of information, and there is a huge number of technological innovations and devices distracting us continuously. The world is more and more challenging, and to live in a calm and relaxed manner seems unattainable.

However, being able to achieve peace of mind, controlling negative thoughts is crucial for a healthy mind and body. We describe bellow five techniques recommended by Harvard Health Publishing to prevent anxiety in order to live healthier:

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Advice 1: Give a good laugh

The first advice is to stay positive and laugh: these behaviours lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter stimulates circulation and many organs, aids muscle relaxation, and activates and relieves our stress response. It also improves our mood and our immune system and relieves pain while increasing personal satisfaction, which in turn helps to reduce depression and anxiety.

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Advice 2: Meditate

Many authors have said how important meditation is for releasing stress and managing fears and negative thoughts. And the best part is that meditation is actually free! One may meditate anytime and anywhere, improving mental and emotional health. It also boosts concentration and improves our mood. Recently, many have discovered the benefits of mindfulness, a practice that helps release anxiety and depression, and entails a number of modalities, such as mindful eatinga technique that allows us to absorb all the sounds around and various tastes of the food while eating.

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Advice 3: Practice exercise

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins”. Regular exercise is considered a natural anti-depressive, and may help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins, a natural cannabis-like brain chemical (endogenous cannabinoids), as well as other natural brain substances that can enhance our sense of wellbeing. On the other hand, when we exercise, we also take our mind off worries, escaping the cycle of negative thoughts, improving our good mood, our memory and our thinking skills. Exercise is key to achieving a happy and focused brain.

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Advice 4: Unplug

We spend our day fully connected with various technological devices such as a computer, tablet, smartphone and television. We inexorably check arriving emails, text messages, or social media posts. At the same time, we are inescapably distracted by commercials on TV or any other media. In order to avoid stress, we need to unplug for a reasonable time, saving some moments just for us, and escaping devices that can generate stress in our minds.

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Advice 5: Escape stress

As Harvard Health Publishing recommends, we should find ways to take the edge off our stress. Very simple things can give us much needed break from stressors in our life, such as a warm bath, listening to music, or spending time on a favourite hobby. Find a way that allows you to release stress and use it to alleviate anxiety.

 

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The effects of Stress

There are numerous ways stress affects our lives. Stress can prevent us to sleep and rest but it can also be the trigger for more serious diseases. Stress has become a part of our daily lives and sometimes its effects go unnoticed until they become serious.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is defined as “(…) the brain’s response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived. They may be recurring, short-term, or long-term and may include things like commuting to and from school or work every day, traveling for a yearly vacation, or moving to another home.

Everyone can suffer from stress and that isn’t always a bad thing. The same institute also states that by triggering body’s responses, stress can be good for the immune system. “When you face a dangerous situation, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity—all functions aimed at survival. In the short term, it can even boost the immune system.The problem rises when stress is continuous, and the body is constantly producing these responses causing the body’s vital system to be always on alert and ready to protect it.

Hair loss is one of the most common stress effects in the body.

Although it is hard to link both, researchers found that continuous stress lowers our immune system, the body produces an autoimmune response that causes hair follicles to fall.

Acne is another major stress effect that usually gives a warning sign to those affected.

When pimples start to breakout after the teenage years they are usually linked to stress.

Heart attack and stroke are some of the most serious effects stress can do to people.

When people can’t disconnect from what is causing them stress, whether is a work, family or other situation the help of medical professionals is key to relieve the stress and help them to face things in a different perspective. There are effective techniques to control stress and to minimize its impact in our lives and our health. With the help of a psychologist stress can be lowered and controlled so that individuals can make better decisions and have a better life quality. Mindfulness is one of the most powerful techniques that can help control stress and boost better decision-making. If you would like to learn more about mindfulness and how it can help relieve stress read this blog post and visit our website for more information.

 

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How can mindfulness mediation make you happier and improve your brain

Mindfulness is a technique that consists of being able to concentrate in one thing at a time, disconnect from the world around and be fully committed to meditate about a given subject. This can improve concentration levels, but can also make people less stressed, happy, and with improved memory.

The Huffington Post explains in a recent article the four different ways our lives can be improved by using mindfulness, and thus being able to live a happier life.

Mindfulness helps people to become more aware of their inner self and that is helpful for general wellbeing.

The first way that mindfulness can help is distracting our minds from negative thought loops: Mindfulness meditation is a form of rigorous training of the mind which helps us to become more familiar with the nature of the mind and more skilful in noticing when our minds are getting caught up in these unhelpful patterns of thought. When we learn to observe this, we can actually choose to disengage and move our attention in ways that support us rather than pull us down.”

The second aspect is making people feel more connected to others: “Mindfulness can deepen and enrich our relationships as we bring a quality of present moment attention to the people around us.”

The third aspect is helping people to reconnect with their inner contentment, which is the inner ability to be happy with oneself: “(…) help us cultivate a sense of inner wellbeing which allows us to feel content and well without needing to obtain anything from the outside world.”

The last way that mindfulness can improve people’s lives is enhancing gratitude: “mindfulness can infuse our lives with gratitude and enhance our appreciation of the ordinary things which can so often pass by unnoticed.”

These four different ways seem to leverage our overall ability to be happy and to feel happiness with the small things in life that many times are undervalued.

A recent study by Harvard University connected mindfulness practice with improving the brain and boost memory and empathy and reduce stress. The study concluded that practising mindfulness for 8 weeks can make a significant change in the grey matter. “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

Read more about the study here.

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness techniques, read our previous blogpost here and read about our mindfulness program here.

 

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