Stress can have quite the impact on your health, ranging from headaches and sleeping problems to a lack of motivation and overeating. According to research recently undertaken by NUI Galway, ’emotional upset’ can double the risk of a heart attack, raising blood pressure and heart rate, changing the flow of blood through blood vessels and reducing blood supply heading for the heart.
So how do you tackle stress? You could opt for a relaxing spa weekend, or a weekend away, but those might not be the best for your bank account. However, there are some simple and cost-effective avenues that you can explore in search of stress relief.
Laugh it up
A common prescription for stress, laughing can help reduce the stress hormone known as cortisol, promotes the release of endorphins in the brain, and aids in muscle relaxation. You don’t have to simply sit at home laughing to yourself – there’s a whole world of comedy available on YouTube. Check out this video if you need a good laugh.
Better sleep can lead to improved levels of stress, but you can’t simply decide that you’re going to get better sleep. You can, however, put the optimal conditions in place. It’s recommended that you avoid checking your emails or watching TV while tucked in, otherwise your brain can begin to associate bedtime with an increase in mental activity rather than a decrease. Turn off the TV before bedtime and create a routine – read a book, take a shower and then get into bed, mentally preparing yourself to go to sleep. And avoid caffeine!
I love to read – pick up a book and within moments you can be whisked away to another world, forgetting all about the troubles in your own. According to the Wall Street Journal, 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading can help reduce your stress levels.
If you’ve got a computer or smart device, Project Gutenberg provides access to more than 53,000 free ebooks, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Dracula and The Picture of Dorian Gray. If you’ve got a Kindle or the Kindle reading app, check out BookLending.com, which allows Kindle books with lending enabled to be loaned by one user to another for 14 days.
Have you ever put on your favourite track and sunk back into your chair, feeling your worries simply easing away? According to the University of Nevada, music can be an effective tool for relaxation and stress management. Instrumental music and the sounds of nature are particularly calming. YouTube is a great free resource for all types of music, while Spotify’s free version allows you to listen to its musical database for free on shuffle.
How often do you head out for a stroll around your neighbourhood? If you live in the countryside or within easy access of parkland or greenery, taking in some nature can boost your mental health and wellbeing. All you have to do is step outside.
Keep an eye out for another five cost-effective stress management tips next week.