When confronted with stressful situations, our bodies produce special hormones to help us face difficult challenges. Unfortunately, when these hormones are allowed to run wild, they can increase the risk of deadly health problems. If you are having trouble coping with stress, the following tips can help you find relief.
1. Get more sleep. Studies have shown that poor sleep can cause people to produce especially large amounts of ACTH and stress hormones throughout the day and night. This research is consistent with other studies, which have shown that improved sleep quality contributes to lower stress levels and reduced anxiety. If you haven’t been sleeping well, try to establish a bedtime routine to help you relax, and go to bed at the same time every evening. You should also avoid caffeine and alcohol, which are notorious for disrupting sleep.
2. Be mindful. An intriguing amount of research has shown that mindfulness has the power to reduce stress. If you are burdened with racing thoughts, try to focus on the moment, paying especially close attention to sensations. Think about the way your feet feel against the ground as you walk, and focus on the taste of your food. The more time you spend paying attention to each moment, the less time you will find yourself ruminating about stressful thoughts.
3. Try meditation or yoga. Most people know that meditation and yoga can help you feel relaxed in the moment. According to compelling research, however, these relaxation techniques could also reverse stress-related changes in a person’s genes. If you are struggling to cope with stress, consider trying meditation or yoga. Just remember that it can take some time to experience any benefits, especially if you are new to the practices.
4. Get outside. Studies have shown that people tend to cope better with stress and anxiety when they get more sunlight. While they can’t say for sure, researchers think this may have something to do with increased levels of serotonin in the brain.
5. Focus on someone else. When we become internally focused, we tend to experience more stress. On the other hand, when we focus on others, the opposite tends to be true. According to several studies, people experience reduced depression and less stress when they participate in volunteer programs. If you feel overburdened by stress, consider volunteering in your local community. Not only will this help you become less internally focused, it will help you establish positive connections with other people.