Women often assume the role of a “caretaker” at home and fight the glass ceiling at work. In the midst of juggling responsibilities at work and home, stress is inevitable. In fact, studies have observed that women – married women, in particular – are more susceptible to stress than men.
While stress is a part of life, if you don’t manage it effectively, it could become a cause for concern. Poorly managed stress could lead to several physical and psychological disorders. Here are some tips to help you cope with stress and handle it better.1
1. Perform Aerobic Exercise
When you exercise and work your body, your brain releases a chemical called endorphin. During times of stress, endorphin controls your pituitary gland and regulates the secretion of stress-causing hormones. Studies state that regular aerobic exercise (such as swimming, running, or zumba) can decrease your overall levels of stress, tension, and anxiety. In fact, it’s hypothesized that by performing just 5 minutes of aerobic exercise during a stressful situation, you can boost your mood and significantly reduce your stress levels.2
2. Follow A Balanced Diet
More often than not, the foods that you love to binge-eat are responsible for your increased stress level. Yes, that bag of fries you eat every evening could actually be responsible for your sleepless nights. To reduce your stress, avoid foods rich in sodium, such as fried or smoked foods, canned foods, sauces and seasoning herbs, instant noodles and pasta, salted nuts, and frozen foods.3 Also, stay away from coffee and alcohol.
On the other hand, there are foods that reduce the levels of your body’s stress hormone (or cortisol) and improve your mood. So, make sure you eat foods rich in the following nutrients.
- Magnesium: Leafy greens, salmon, and soybeans.
- Vitamin C: Oranges, sweet potato, and berries.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Fatty fish and nuts.
- Fruits and vegetables.
If you enjoy dark chocolate, eating 1–2 squares a day can also help in keeping stress at bay. You could also opt for teas like chamomile, mint, or barley tea.4
3. Have A Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep and stress form a vicious cycle. The more you’re stressed, the more you let it affect your sleep patterns. And an unhealthy sleep pattern, in turn, increases stress levels.5 If you’re unable to sleep, you could try to induce sleep by meditating or performing some light exercises. Also, before you go to bed, open your windows to let in some fresh air. Make sure that the temperature of your bedroom is optimum and not too hold or too cold. You could also try doing some light reading or listen to soothing music to help you fall asleep. Certain indoor plants like the Valerian or the English Ivy can also help you sleep better.
Practice Mindful Meditation
Mindful meditation might help you ease stress and cope with other psychological issues as well. To practice mindful meditation, sit in a comfortable spot, cross your legs in front of you, and free your mind of all thoughts. Whenever you realize that your mind’s wandering, bring it back to the present. Studies have revealed that mindful meditation can reduce stress levels and impart clarity to your thoughts and decisions.6
5. Organize Work Better
Prioritizing tasks is the first step to reduce stress, especially if you’re a working woman. After a long day of work, it’s okay if you don’t want to attend to the chores waiting for you at home. You don’t need to be a superwoman at all times. By prioritizing your tasks and learning to say “no” to things you can’t take on, you’re only saving yourself from all the stress, anxiety, and even guilt that you might experience later on.
6. Indulge In Your Favorite Hobby
If you’re highly stressed, giving yourself some “me time” might seem like a joke. But, the importance of indulging in hobbies and interests is often understated. Hobbies provide an escape from the monotony of daily life and help you feel relaxed and happy. Forms of expression like art, music, and dance are, in fact, considered to have “healing” qualities. It’s okay even if you feel you’re not great at art, as it’s the process that helps you relieve stress and not the result.7
7. Laugh It Off
There’s a reason why laughter is called the best medicine. Laughter reduces the stress hormones released by your body and lowers the fatigue that occurs due to stress. So, every week or so, hang out with your old buddies and leave your worries at the work desk. If you prefer to stay in, tune into a comedy show on TV and laugh along with your favorite characters. Alternatively, you could try laughter yoga. It’s believed to work wonders for stress relief.8
Stress is an inevitable part of life. However, it’s the way you manage it that makes all the difference. Follow these 7 steps to deal with stress better and reduce your risk of developing other stress-triggered medical conditions. If your stress levels persist and you’re unable to obtain relief from it, you could also consider opting for wellness therapy.
|↑1||Gender and Stress. American Psychological Association.|
|↑2||Physical Activity Reduces Stress.
|↑3||Guidelines for a Low Sodium Diet. University of California San Francisco Medical Center.|
|↑4||Eat Right, Drink Well, Stress Less: Stress-Reducing Foods, Herbal Supplements, and Teas. UCLA Center for East-West Medicine.|
|↑5||Stress And Insomnia. National Sleep Foundation.|
|↑6||Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.|
|↑7||The healing power of art.
|↑8||Laughter is Important for Wellness.