Stop Stress from Killing You, Part Two: Seven Keys to Reducing Stress

This is part two in a short series about how stress affects our health. You can read part one here.

Once you’ve identified the tops sources of stress in your life, it’s time to take action and starting moving things a positive direction. Most people are amazed at the improvement they see in their health after making just a few small but very significant changes. Here are seven simple keys for reducing the stress in your life:

#1: Reduce Emotional and Psychological Stress

The impact of emotional stress cannot be underestimated, but this type of stress is often overlooked because it 's not easy to make changes in this area. A difficult living situation, an unhappy marriage or a stressful job could be a source of major stress that is wearing down your health. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to move, get a divorce or quit your job, but it’s important to look for ways to improve your situation in whatever way you can. If you’re dealing with other stressors like depression, anxiety, or the loss of a loved one, you may want to seek counseling or join a support group that can offer you help.

Although it appears small on the surface, negative thought patterns have a way of chipping away at our quality of life by compounding our stress. Establishing healthy patterns of enjoying the moment, reframing, and learning to forgive can have a very positive effect on your health.

#2: Prioritize Quality Sleep and Regular Downtime

The impact sleep can have on your life is well documented. Getting at least seven hours every night will balance your cortisol levels, improve your energy and brighten your mood. And just as important as sleep is downtime. It may take some rearranging if your schedule is packed with activities, but it’s vital for your health to take time each day to relax and unwind. Taking a day off now and then to free yourself from that mile-long to-do list is very restorative as well. And by all means, if you can take a vacation and get away from it all, do it!

#3: Improve Food Quality and Eating Habits

It can’t be emphasized enough: food is the foundation of your health. A balanced diet of real, whole foods is a must. Avoid processed foods, skipping meals or under-eating. Your body needs quality food for nourishment.

#4: Avoid Allergens

If you have allergies, these can trigger a stress response in the body. Do your best to avoid allergens, which includes identifying food allergies so you can make better food choices. On the up side, if you deal properly with other stressors in your life, this may decrease the severity of your allergic reactions (which are, in part, a stress response of their own).

#5: Smart and Sensible Exercise

Being active is part of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s important not to overdo it if you’re otherwise stressed. Emphasize activities like strength training, yoga, walking and swimming. Avoid overtraining or doing too much cardio, which can exhaust the adrenals.

#6: Reduce Physical Stressors

If you get sick, injured or have to deal with chronic pain, try to get the rest and care you need so you can reduce the stress these cause on your body. Allow your body time to heal, or in the case of chronic pain, look for ways to treat the pain or the underlying cause that allow you to live a normal, happy life.

#7: Avoid Toxin Exposure

Most of us can’t completely eliminate toxins from our lives, but we can take measures to greatly reduce the amount of toxins our bodies must deal with every day. Filter your water, use natural beauty and cleaning products, eat organic foods, avoid chemical food additives and take the time to enjoy fresh air as much as you can.

This post is a part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

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