Five Healthy Ways to Manage Stress

You probably know someone who is experiencing a stressful situation. Maybe you yourself are experiencing such a situation right now and are looking for ways to manage to get through it. Stress affects us all. To be precise, it is the natural reaction of our brain and body to demanding situations and stressors. But learning to manage stress is important for our overall well-being.

According to the American Psychological Association's annual report on stress in America, financial and employment issues continued to be a major stressors for 2018. An interesting finding, however, was the increased tolerance of stress in all generations.


The truth is that not all types of stress are negative. To be precise, stress is part of our body's primordial "fight or flight" response, it is a way to defend ourselves against sudden dangers or threats. Our body's response to stress helps us stay alert, stay focused and motivated.

The important thing is to manage stress effectively. If left unchecked, chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on our physical and mental health.


Manage stress through healthy eating

Our immune system needs adequate sleep, exercise and good nutrition. Unfortunately, long-term stress can cause fatigue and negatively affect our mood, making it difficult to adopt healthy habits.

Many people tend to overdo it with food during stressful times, choosing foods that are cooked quickly and offer a sense of relief, but are full of fat, salt and sugar. If you overdo it with caffeine or drink coffee at night in order to boost your mood and energy, it can have the opposite effect and make it difficult to sleep.

By being aware of what you are consuming, especially during times of intense stress, you can manage your stress levels and change the way you deal with it.


Here are some tips for healthy eating:


Avoid eating snacks unnecessarily

The so-called "comfort food" stimulates the secretion of certain chemicals in the brain, which create a feeling of reward that does not last long. This type of food, high in calories, also makes us want to continue eating non-stop. This creates a vicious circle, as overeating leads to weight gain, which in turn causes psychological stress. Foods full of sugar, such as ice cream, can temporarily lift our spirits, but then comes a sharp drop.

If you feel the need to eat something, choose nutritious, hard and crunchy foods, which help to relieve tension through the exercise of the jaw muscles. Very good alternatives for snacks are almonds, soy nuts and baby carrots.


Eat at regular intervals and do not miss meals

When you are under pressure, it is easy to postpone meals or skip meals altogether. This can have a detrimental effect on your mood and energy levels. Blood sugar levels can drop, resulting in increased stress. If stress reduces your appetite, try eating smaller meals at regular intervals throughout the day.

Also, keep in mind that meals should be enjoyable and detached from work or other sources of stress. If you dine at the office where you work or pay your bills at meal time, you probably need to change your habits. Give yourself some time to calm down during the meal. This way you are more likely to enjoy it more and eat less.


Manage stress through exercise

Whether you like exercise or not, it is a great way to relieve stress. When we exercise, our body secretes endorphins, which make us feel good. For some, mild, low-intensity exercise such as yoga, pilates or a leisurely stroll in the park are the ideal treatment for stress. Still others prefer high-intensity exercise, such as running or sprinting.

Whatever the type of sport that lifts your spirits and makes you feel like you are achieving your goals, you can probably do it at home.  


Do not forget sleep

When we do not get enough sleep, our body secretes more cortisol than usual. Cortisol is the stress hormone, which when increased makes us look tired and stressed. During sleep, our body repairs the damage it has suffered during the day, renewing the cells. This process is vital for the whole body, as a good night's sleep can help relieve psychological stress.

The combination of good diet, exercise and good sleep enhances our health and, although it can not eliminate stressful situations, it can help us better manage stress and achieve overall well-being.