In my previous post, I talked about the major implications stress has on our health; from increased risk of chronic disease, decrease in life expectancy, to other mildly terrifying side-effects.
Now that I’ve stressed you out, what can you do to prevent such consequences?
It’s impossible to run away to the woods and live like Thoreau, especially if you live in a city. We can’t just drop our lives, escape our jobs and ditch our responsibilities. But if you do, write me a letter and tell me about your experience. I’ll gladly live vicariously through your newfound freedom.
The rest of us must stay put and deal with the everyday stressors that modern life brings. We’ll continue waking up to our startling and terrifying alarm clocks, forge ahead to pay off our debts, and muster up the courage to go to work everyday and suffer through our long commutes. Most of us will keep drinking red wine while listening to Barbara Streisand and continue having terrible attacks of road rage.
However, there are things you can do to mitigate your body’s response to stress and become a more healthy human once again.
1) Meditate: The research regarding meditation is astounding, with more and more papers coming out everyday on it’s benefits. Researchers at John’s Hopkins University sifted through nearly 19,000 meditation studies (of which 47 met their criteria for well designed studies), and found that mindfulness meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.
2) Acupuncture: As an acupuncturist, I absolutely must talk about how acupuncture works wonders for anxiety and stress. Researchers at Georgetown University used lab studies to demonstrate that acupuncture slows the body’s production of stress hormones and re-calibrates, or normalizes the stress hormone levels. More research is being done, but acupuncture has been safely used for thousands of years with clinical efficacy.
3) Exercise: One of the easiest and most tangible things you can do right now, exercise boosts your endorphins, improves your mood, lowers the symptoms of anxiety and stress, as well as improve sleep. Exercise does a body good.
4) Find a Less Stressful Job: There’s no question that finding a less stressful and more fulfilling job will lead to less stress, less anxiety, and a happier life. If you’ve read this far, you know your jobs is what’s causing the majority of stress in the first place. If at all possible, why not look for something more suited to your needs?
5) Actually Take a Vacation: Studies show that Americans suck at taking vacations, where only 51% use their eligible paid vacation time and paid time off. And worse, 61% of Americans work while they’re on vacation. Apparently we are all scared of asking for time off, which correlates to bad health and bad outcomes. If you want to lead a healthy existence, it’s time to take your vacation and throw your phone away.
6) Forget everything I said and run away to the woods: Why Not? All you have to fear are the bears.
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