It’s hard not to be stressed in today’s fast-paced world. But chronic stress can cause people to adopt poor habits like smoking, and eating badly, which in turn can cause high blood pressure and weight gain. All of these factors increase your risk for heart disease and further increase your stress.
Here are five easy steps that can help you break this vicious cycle.
1. Get Your ZZZs
Getting a good night’s sleep sets you up for a low-stress day. Most people need between seven and eight hours of rest every night to feel refreshed, but some people need up to nine. If you have trouble falling asleep, try setting up a routine to follow every night. Try a series of stretches before bed, simple breathing exercises or a hot shower. You’ll feel more relaxed and ready to ease into sleep.
2. Eat Up
Low blood sugar makes you tired and grumpy, which makes you less likely to work out and can lead to poor food choices later in the day. Eat well-balanced meals with healthy snacks (like nuts and fresh fruit) at regular intervals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar, and your mood, even!
3. Turn off the Tube
Lots of people use television as a way to unwind and escape from the worries of the day. But too much screen time can lead to behaviors that actually increase stress. People who eat in front of the television tend to consume more calories and make less healthy food choices than those who eat at a table. And any time spent watching TV on your couch is time you aren’t spending de-stressing in a more effective way.
4. Sweat it Out
Exercise is a proven stress reliever. Cardio releases endorphins into the blood stream that help regulate your mood and stress levels. Exercise also helps limit the amount of cortisol, a hormone caused by stress, your body produces. Get the good stuff pumping through your veins by getting moving at least 30 minutes a day.
5. Be a Social Butterfly
When things pile up, it can seem like you don’t have time for fun. But don’t let a stressful situation cut you off from friends. Having someone to confide in can be a huge help, and friends and family often offer the best advice. Just make sure you don’t dwell on the bad stuff. Talk it through and move on to something positive, like enjoying your friend’s company!