All it takes is a few lifestyle tweaks to help ease stress. These simple ways will have you feeling calm quick!

Stress is evil and can be blamed for so many things—headaches, tummy trouble, insomnia and worst case scenarios, high blood pressure and chest pains. Believe it or not, according to webmd.com, 90 percent of visits to the doc’s office are stress related conditions. But even if you live a fast-paced lifestyle, there are simple solutions for keeping stress at bay.

Diet

One of the easiest ways to keep stress in check is through your diet. When stress hits, we tend to reach for the comfort of carbs—fast food joints and sugary treats are often first choice coping mechanisms. Though temporarily soothing, a diet laden with empty calories could just be worsening the situation. By avoiding processed foods and loading your grocery cart with as many fresh ingredients as possible, you’re one step ahead in the battle.  Foods like cashews, berries, avocados and asparagus are a good place to start. Jam-packed with vitamins, they can be credited with a calming effect.

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Exercise

Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after a good session of pumping iron? Or how therapeutic sweating it out in a hot yoga session feels? It can be as short as a ten minute walk around the block or an hour giving it all you’ve got, but exercise gives your endorphins (feel-good chemicals in the brain) a boost and helps erase the downers of the day.

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Sleep

Is it really as simple as getting your zzzz’s? Can a good night’s sleep help ease tension and anxiousness? Absolutely! Experts agree if you get seven to nine hours a night, you can do wonders for your health. So if your lifestyle does afford you the luxury of this much sleep but you find yourself wired come bedtime, going off the grid certainly helps. Turn off your smart phone and get a standard alarm clock. Texts and emails coming in at all hours of the night are going to keep you stimulated. And if you’re feeling a little snackish before bed, cheese, yogurt or a glass of milk are a good choice. The tryptophan in dairy products help to manufacture melatonin, the body’s natural sleep-aid.

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Kick those bad habits

But as much as stress relief is about adding positive habits like exercise, quality sleep and better nutrition to your lifestyle, it’s as much about eliminating the bad habits. Ditch vices like alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes (obviously) and you may notice a decrease in blood pressure. Now while recent research has shown that the antioxidants and resveratrol in glass of red wine a day are beneficial to the heart and cholesterol levels respectively, and three to five cups a day of java (minus the double double) can help lower the risk of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, the key is always moderation.

 

stacy-rinella-squareThis post was written by Stacy Rinella. Stacy is a freelance writer based in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her husband and two sons.
Headshot: Paul Buceta