A recent study by Ohio University and the University of Chicago found that people with higher amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone) were more prone to chronic inflammation, which is thought to contribute towards the development of heart disease and cancer.
Learning how to take control over your stress levels takes time and practice but there are some exercises you can take home with you.
Try the following to control your stress levels …
1. Simple breathing exercises
Learning to breathe properly is an effective and very simple way to lower your stress levels. Once you can master the technique, you’ll be surprised at how much it can turn your mood around.
How to do it: Start by slowly inhaling through your nose, counting to five in your head as you do. Then, release the air from your mouth while counting to eight. Repeat a few times until you feel calmer.
This very simple exercise will oxygenate your blood, wake up your brain and relax your muscles to alleviate symptoms of stress like sweatiness, a racing heart and flushing.
2. Guided imagery
Guided imagery is a way of transporting yourself away from the current moment to somewhere much calmer. To do it effectively, breathe deeply and close your eyes. Next, imagine a place you would like to be – somewhere calm and quiet, like a secluded beach, or a secret garden. Think about all of your senses. Can you smell freshly cut grass? Can you hear sounds like seagulls, or rolling waves? Can you feel the heat of the sun on your skin? Focus on this scene for as long as you like, constructing little details in your mind. When you come to open your eyes, you’ll hopefully feel much calmer.
Visualisations will take you one step further than guided imagery. Instead of just imagining a place, you will be required to imagine a scenario. Whatever it is you need to do – run a race, do a presentation, complete an exam – visualising yourself doing it and doing it well will help you to do well on the day. By creating a clear path to success in your mind, you can convince yourself it is possible and, by convincing yourself something is possible, you set yourself up mentally for success.
A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Go for a walk, cycle, run, or swim at your local pool – it’ll distract your mind from worries and stimulate the release of serotonin, the happy hormone. There’s no better feeling than finishing a good exercise session, and experts reckon it could stave off depression, too.
Yoga combines all of the above tips for a truly stress-busting activity. Sit in a darkened room, listen to some soothing music, breathe deeply, relax your mind and shift your body into different positions as advised by a yoga instructor in order to escape the hustle and bustle of real life.
Hypnotherapy can be a very effective technique for stress relief. After being lulled into a sleep-like state, your hypnotherapist will speak to your unconscious mind, teaching it to let go of stressful things and embrace a more positive way of thinking.
To find out more about hypnotherapy for stress, please visit our Stress page.
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