College Advice Blog

Aug 7, 2012

From Meditation To Exercise – The Top 10 Ways To De-stress

The non-stop busy world
In the modern world we’re so busy it’s as if a whole day can go by without even the chance to stop for a minute, gather up our thoughts, and take time out from all that’s going on. And with our new-found addiction to smartphones and other tech, even our quieter moments are filled with news feeds, updates, text messages, breaking news, and other electronic distraction.

And it’s partly because of all this activity that many of us forget to spend a bit of time de-stressing. Instead, we zoom from email to message to next appointment, all the while forgetting to avoid stress. We need to make sure that we’ve got all the best de-stress tactics to hand.

Top De-stressors
So we’ve compiled this list of things that will help you to stay stress free while also being a dynamic and productive individual:

Exercise – it’s no secret that exercise is a stress-buster. It helps keep you in good shape mentally and physically, releasing endorphins to make you feel good, and helping you to stay fit. All of which helps add to your confidence and helps you stay stress free.

Balanced eating – getting all the right kind of foods doesn’t just taste great, it will also help your body cope by being healthier and better able to deal with any stress that comes your way. Of course, it is all about balance, so you can still have your occasional treat.

Calming foods – while we’re on the subject of eating, it’s worth noting that there’s a whole host of calming foods out there that can help when you’re looking to feel less stressed. It’s all too tempting to fill up on sweets and string coffee, but a breakfast or mid-morning snack of porridge will give you a slow release energy boost and, hopefully, a sense of wellbeing. Porridge is also believed to help raise levels of serotonin, the brain’s natural feel-good chemical.

Prayer/Meditation – it’s showing up more and more in news stories as having some real benefits. Meditation or prayer are even believed to cause positive physical changes in the brain. On top of these other benefits, they are a sure fire way to combat stress, leaving us feeling relaxed and in control.

Breathing – this one is related to meditation but requires less concentration, takes less time, and can have a very good effect in reducing feelings of stress. There is a whole range of breathing exercises that can help to reduce tension and lessen feelings of anxiety. By making a habit of doing things like breathing exercises, you’re reminding yourself that calm is the best way to feel, and when stress does arise, you’ll be less likely to ignore it or carry on without combating it.

Laughter – while its health benefits haven’t been definitively assessed, there’s no doubt that after laughing at our favourite comedian or television show, we often feel better in ourselves. And that has to be a good thing psychologically as well as physically.

Declutter – it’s often said that your desktop (or other area) is a reflection of your inner self. So if things are piled up everywhere and there’s a feeling of disarray, then it’s time to declutter.

Sleep – like eating healthily, getting the right amount of sleep is very important for staying mentally healthy. Good sleep habits will help you optimise your night’s sleep and you’ll feel the benefits all throughout the waking day. Getting your Z’s is a must for combating stress.

Expand your interests – this doesn’t mean putting pressure on yourself to learn a new skill. It’ s more about finding a hobby or interest that really absorbs you and takes you out of yourself for a while. It could be as simple as buying plants for your home and looking after them, or finding new and interesting places to walk where you live. Of course, if you want to learn a new language or join a beginners’ chess club then get out there and jump in. But expanding your interests doesn’t have to be a major undertaking.

Express yourself – don’t bottle things up. Tell your partner or trusted people close to you how you feel. That old cliché about a problem shared being a problem halved may not ne mathematically precise,  but it’s definitely true that it can help. Of course if you think that stress is affecting your health then consult a health professional. Don’t assume they’ll just think it’s trivial – a medical professional will be able to give you helpful and supportive advice.

And relax ...
So you’ve explored the various options above, and you’re ready to start fighting stress and to start making your world a calmer place. What other things will help you on your way to being a calmer, much less stressed individual?

Take a pro-active approach to dealing with stress. Observe the way you react to various stressors and devise the best tactics to deal with them.

Take inspiration. There are whole bookshelves of manuals and guides devoted to wellbeing. Next time you’re in a bookstore, take the time to browse through the titles. If you’re in the habit of looking for ways to improve your wellbeing, you’ll constantly pick up new tips, insights, strategies, and information to help and inspire you.

And remember that by fighting stress and valuing calm, you’re bringing physical as well as mental health benefits. Severe stress has been linked to a range of undesirable health outcomes including strokes, high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease.

One further benefit of dealing with stress is that the things you do to combat it – relaxation techniques, exercise, good sleep habits, healthy eating and so on –  all have other benefits of their own. You might even find yourself losing those extra pounds, not getting out of breath so much, and feeling that important bit more energetic and ready to enjoy your day to the maximum.


Jen Jones writes for a number of health blogs on a variety of topics including health and nutrition on behalf of Health-on-Line.


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