Stress is like a small crack in a windshield. If the crack is left unaddressed, its tentacles spread throughout the glass until it completely breaks down. Stress works the same way. If left untreated, stress rises and has growing negative impacts on your physical and mental health.
A traditional time for most Americans to set goals – the start of the new year – makes it the perfect time for a resolution to lower your stress levels. Let’s look at five simple ways you can relieve stress in 2018.
1. Study and practice relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques relieve stress symptoms and help improve your quality of life, especially if you have a neurological illness. Relaxation techniques are low to no cost, can be done anywhere, at any time and are easy to learn.
One simple, no-cost method is progressive muscle relaxation. For many, stress settles in the muscles, which makes them tense. By concentrating on muscle relaxation, you’ll relieve tension as well as lower your overall stress levels.
Work your way up from the toes. Tense and then release your toe muscles and progressively work your way up to your neck and head. You could also begin at the neck and head and work your way down. Tense each set of muscles for about five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds. Do this twice for each muscle group.
2. Exercise Regularly
When stress affects your body, the nerves in the brain feel it’s effects too. Exercise lowers the body’s stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which has a soothing effect on your mind. An extra bonus is that you’re improving your overall physical fitness.
Exercise can also help fight stress in other ways. Studies show regular physical activity can raise the energy levels that stress has depleted. The chemicals your brain produces during exercise helps you sleep better, and proper sleep increases your energy levels.
3. Set realistic goals and expectations
It’s important to set goals that are achievable. Trying to reach goals that are unrealistic sets you up for higher stress levels as you strive for the unreachable and experience frustration and disappointment.
4. Spend time with people you enjoy being around
Socializing with family and friends you enjoy being with can be an important stress reducer. One study found that being around people you like releases brain chemicals that are natural stress relievers.
Laughing makes your time with loved ones more enjoyable, and it’s a great stress buster. A study found that a group of cancer patients who laughed experienced greater stress relief than those who were simply distracted.
5. Make Sure to Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for optimum health. A good night’s sleep recharges your brain and gives your body the rest it needs to function well. When you sleep, your muscles repair and your memory strengthens.
If you don’t get enough rest, sleep deprivation can make stress levels rise. Conversely, rising stress levels can lead to less restful or not enough sleep time. This stress-sleep cycle can negatively impact your mental and physical health. Break the stress-sleep cycle by practicing the stress relief techniques we discussed here along with getting about eight hours of sleep a night.
Quality medical care is also an important part of staying healthy. Complete Neurological Care uses comprehensive diagnostic services along with cutting-edge treatments to treat the nerves and the nervous system. For more information, contact one of our Complete Neurological Care convenient locations in the NYC and Long Island areas. Fill out the form or call to book an appointment to start on the road to better health.