Constant stress, whether from a daily commute, unhappy marriage, or heavy workload, can have real physical effects on the body. It has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including mood and sleep disorders, appetite problems and even heart disease.
In diabetes, heart disease is a common complication. Both high blood glucose levels and stress hormones increase inflammation in blood vessels which can result in heart disease.
Stress can also cause negative behaviours, such as unhealthy eating, being sedentary, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol.
Breaking the connection requires both learning to deal with stress and managing unhealthy habits.
10 tips to help you de-stress
1. Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase good HDL cholesterol.
2. Meditation and deep breathing have shown to reduce heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure. Yoga and prayer can also relax the mind and body.
3. Exercise releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only helps you de-stress, it protects against heart disease by lowering blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helps maintain a healthy weight.
4. Unplug from the world of technology. Avoid e-mails and news. Take time each day, even if it’s for just 10 or 15 minutes.
5. Find ways to de-stress, like a warm bath or a favourite hobby. Research has shown that colouring in, especially complex geometric patterns, is a perfect outlet for stress.
6. Get a hug from a loved one. When you hug someone, oxytocin is released. Oxytocin (cuddle hormone) is associated with higher levels of happiness, lower levels of stress, and lower blood pressure. This is because it reduces norepinephrine, the stress hormone.
7. Enjoy aromatherapy. Emerging research suggests certain scents can alter brain wave activity and decrease stress hormones in the body. Use candles, diffusers, or body products to achieve the benefits.
8. Adopt a balanced diet. Refined carbohydrates, like cookies and potato chips, can cause a spike in blood glucose. When this crashes, you might experience more stress and anxiety. Foods like eggs, avocado, and walnuts support mood regulation and energy balance.
9. Develop a positive self-talk habit. Harsh self-criticism, self-doubt, and catastrophic predictions worsen states of stress. It’s important to learn to talk to yourself compassionately.
10. Express gratitude. Grateful people generally enjoy better mental health, lower stress, and a better quality of life.
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