What does stress do?
Stress creates hormones that prepare us against danger, or in other words, it triggers the “fight or flight” response so that we may defend ourselves against predators. Stress affects our body and mind’s wellbeing in an abundance of ways. To name a few; increased blood sugar and pulse rate, the digestive system slows down, our immune system lowers its defenses, and muscles tense. Furthermore, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease erupts and other serious diseases and illnesses. However, there are a number of things to do to reduce stress.
Fight off stress with:
Exercise has many proven benefits for the mind and body; one being reduced stress. Exercise can improve depression in both adults and children. It can be as little as “walking for 20-30 minutes several times a week or other much milder physical activities that promote a sense of well being” (The American Institute of Stress). Additionally, exercise can even improve symptoms of stress from those who suffer from anxiety disorders, such as PTSD. This is due to exercise being able to increase endorphins, which create a sense of well-being and increase pain tolerance.
Doing exercises with friends can keep you motivated and keep it interesting. Being social can also improve symptoms of stress and depression as well. It may be hard to get into it for the first time, or even returning to it, but even short bursts of exercise can help. Furthermore, benefits of exercise also include lowering blood pressure, which greatly reduces the risk of a heart attack. The immune system increases in activity as well. The benefits of exercise for one’s health and mind are endless.
Stress is demanding on the body and mind and requires “more energy, oxygen, circulation, and therefore more metabolic cofactors are needed (e.g. vitamins and minerals)” (Journal of Nutrition). Vitamin C for one, decreases when we are stressed. This is unfortunate because the body needs vitamin C to reduce stress due to it being able to control adrenaline better. So consume more vitamin C when you are stressed or depressed.
Serotonin is another helpful thing to increase in your body. This is a chemical in the brain that calms us. Foods such as fruits and vegetables are great at giving us serotonin. Foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids or complex-carbohydrate whole grains also increase serotonin in the brain. Complex-carbohydrate whole grains are especially important because the body turns it into glucose, which is used as energy. These are found in foods containing whole grains, and foods such as vegetables and beans. As for boosting immune system functions, probiotics are a great option. They increase the good bacteria in your gut, which is vital when the body is stressed.
Along with exercise, making sure the body has good levels of serotonin, energy, and good bacteria in the gut is key to reduce stress.
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