We are always wondering what we can do to reduce stress in our lives. And, while adding some time for relaxation is important, it will not always result in overall stress reduction on a regular basis. Indeed, part of living a life that includes less stress in general requires making changes to your lifestyle. A healthier lifestyle usually results in less stress. You probably won’t be too surprised that making the following three lifestyle changes can contribute to less stress:
1. Eat Healthier
You can probably see where this list is going already. The truth is that what we eat can help us cope with stress. And stress eating unhealthy foods (and portions) is not the true way to relieve recurring stress. While it may be emotionally satisfying to stress eat initially, long term you are developing habits that can lead to increased stress in your life overall.
Make healthier eating choices, integrating more fruits and vegetables in your diet, and paying attention to whole grains and fish. Eating red meat is not necessarily a bad thing, but consider portion sizes and frequency. Look for ways to slowly change your nutrition habits. Unhealthy eating puts stress on your body as it contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other health conditions. When your body is stressed, your emotional state becomes increasingly fragile as well.
2. Make Time for Physical Activity
Increasing the amount of exercise you get can help reduce stress. Not only does regular physical exercise increase your health level, but it can also improve your mood. Exercise releases chemicals in your brain that help promote feelings of well being. Additionally, physical activity can provide you with an outlet for frustration and stress.
There are a number of little ways that you can increase your physical activity every day, from taking the stairs instead of the elevator to playing outside with your kids. While regular, vigorous exercise is important, there is no law that says you have to go to the gym or hole up downstairs with a workout video. Running, biking, swimming and other activities can help you increase your healthy physical activity — without always feeling like “exercise.”
3. Increase the Quality of Your Sleep
Science continues to provide us with insight into the importance of sleep. Indeed, we know that sleep is important for our health, both physical and emotional. While eating better and exercising more are fairly obvious lifestyle changes to make in one’s quest for increased health and reduced stress, sleep is sometimes overlooked.
Sleep, though, provides the body with time to recharge, and it is important for physical health. Weight gain, heart problems and other issues have been linked to poor sleep habits. Additionally, poor sleep quality increases ragged emotional states and can lead to increased stress. Working to relax before bed time, and making sure that you get an adequate amount of sleep are ways you can improve the quality of your sleep. Setting up a sleep schedule can also help. While you can get out of your schedule on occasion, having an overall schedule can help your body get better, healthier sleep — and help you reduce stress.
Bottom line: It seems pretty straightforward and obvious, but it is important to take a few minutes to recognize that healthy habits can lead to fewer feelings of stress. A healthy body is more able to cope with every day problems, and making lifestyle changes to increase your health can lead to less stress in your life.