The school runs, long commutes to work, daily chores, deadlines, email to respond- all of this constantly working in a clockwise routine whilst trying to retain your sanity is what a modern-day life looks like. Hectic, tiring, and hard on the brain and body. Life is full of stress is a term we often use nowadays and 9 out of 10 people seem to suffer from it. This even without realizing that they are stressed and the impact it has on one's body. A normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing and incessant demands of life is what you will simply term as stress. However, a human brain is well built to cope with stressful scenarios. According to medical research, when the human brain perceives any kind of threat or danger, there is a surge of hormones that are released in our body and rush through it. This release is called the flight or fright response which appears not just in stressful situations but in everyday stress triggers as well. With increasing levels of these triggers, our alarm system of releasing hormones rarely shuts off. Research shows that several million working days are lost due to stress all over the world and most of this is accountable to ill health. Employee absenteeism is attributed to poor health owing to stress. Stress is now so serious that it has become an inevitable part of life and affects the lives of children as well. Almost one million children aged between the age of 5-16 face problems related to anxiety and stress. Although our body is tuned to respond naturally to excess physical, mental, and emotional pressure, we cannot let stress affect our lives adversely. It is definitely impossible to eliminate stress, but stress reduction to a certain level and managing it could be a good solution to keep our body and mind in harmony.

‚ÄćA human body's response to stress

Medical research, stress, and analysis have ascertained that the most common responses of a human to the body to stress can be divided as below:

  1. Aches & Pains- The first symptoms of stress, body ache, headaches, backaches, tight muscles.
  2. Energy levels and sleep patterns- Fatigue for no particular reason, insomnia, lack of proper sleep.
  3. Emotions- Anxiety, anger, tension, depression, emotional outbursts, impatience, absent-mindedness, easily irritable.

Watch this video all about stress by Dr. Shyam Bhat to learn more about the impact of stress and making an effort towards stress reduction in one's life could benefit them positively.

What exercise can do to the mind and body and its effect on stress levels

We all are aware that exercise is good for the overall health but many of us fail to realize that it is equally good for our brain. Exercise is vital to maintain mental fitness which helps us relax and unwind. The doctor highly recommends reducing stress with exercise as it reduces fatigue, improves concentration, boosts alertness, and enhances the functioning of the brain. Stress relief exercises help people to get their body shaking, dropping their heavy shoulders, and see them frowning less. In short, it is definitely possible to reduce stress by exercise and it is one of the most well-known and recommended techniques to cope with stress. Highly recommended by health experts and medical professionals stress reduction exercises need not necessarily be learned or one does have to be tutored to learn them. There are a lot of ways to practice stress relief exercises at home by incorporating simple changes to your lifestyle for stress reduction.

Easy and simple techniques to beat stress

Any form of exercise is good for the brain and proves to be a stress buster. Running, jogging, working out, swimming, badminton, yoga, meditation, or even a brisk walk could help with stress management. It is about what works for you and finding the right one. A few simple tricks you could try at home are:

Yoga and breathing exercises

Simple breathing exercises called anulom vilom are an excellent panacea for stress. The inexpensive exercise of inhaling and exhaling deeply fills the lungs with air and improves the levels of oxygen in the brain. Stress relief breathing exercises also include Kapalbhati which calms the mind, helps with mood swings, and also lessens anxiety. Stress reduction in breathing exercises is easy, simple, and reduces tension. You can do them wherever you want, whenever you want, and don't need any special tools or equipment. Yoga as a mind-body practice is a complementary and integrative health discipline that helps to achieve peacefulness of mind and body. Yoga for stress reduction includes pranayama, asanas, hatha yoga, and savasana to help address the psychological needs of the brain.

1. Meditation

Another simple technique that costs nothing, can be practiced for less than 10 minutes, controls stress, reduces anxiety, improves cardiovascular health, and also helps to feel relaxed. Everyday short meditations to reduce stress help one relax their muscles starting from the feet and progress up to the face. The technique requires a little practice but over time one can achieve a state of relaxation. Stress reduction meditation exercises if practiced consistently, help to reprogram the brain and prove to be an effective stress-management tool. Meditation has been proven through scientific research to alleviate stress within just eight weeks of regular practice.

2. Physical activity

Walking, a regular visit to the gym, running, swimming, jogging are regular, repetitive movements that help to forget stress. Simply concentrating on a set of movements can be meditative like pounding the treadmill to leave that stress behind. Any kind of physical activity encourages the production of endorphins ( the happy chemicals of the brain). Most people who go for a run wax eloquent about how good they feel when their heartbeats harder help to breathe faster and feel relaxed. Physical exercise releases hormones that serve as a natural pain-killer and induce sleep blanking out stress and anxiety.

3. Socialize

Just getting out of the house and relaxing with family and friends in a park, hotel, or cinema hall improves well-being. Sharing, talking, discussing and general conversations are some great ways to de-stress. Stress is an unfortunate side-effect of busy lives. Having methods that are easy is great for combating stress and also the mental, physical, and emotional impact. Stress can consume a person to shut off from their normal life. High levels of stress negatively impact one's health, quality of life, and relationships. Most often stress levels skyrocket and it is difficult to bring it under control. Isolating, secluding, and meditating to physical activity are great tips suggested by health care professionals to beat stress. But the most important part of controlling stress is to identify the triggers causing stress. Financial woes, relationship crises, work pressure are some commonly identified triggers. In fact, even positive events like planning a wedding, selecting the right school for your child, investing in a house can lead to stress. Try to identify the reason behind the stress. Once you have identified, work backward and make small changes to your lifestyle. For eg: if you are facing problems in your relationship, try to take a break and stay away from your partner for a while. During this period, indulge in yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, or some rigorous physical activity that will help to bring your body and mind back to normalcy. The same technique will apply to any other cause. Brainstorm ways to see what will work for you to help your brain relax and think straight. Remember, a stressed body, mind, and brain can never make the right decision. Each person experiences different kinds and levels of stress. The extent depends on the demands placed on oneself and the responsibility that one shoulders. By training our minds, we can be in more control of ourselves and connect better with the people around us. Feeling stressed is inevitable and not a sin. But not dealing with it could have far-reaching consequences. Eat healthily, get enough sleep, exercise regularly to make a huge difference to your mood, energy levels, and change your outlook towards life.

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July 13, 2022
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