Life today is great in lots of ways. The economy is slowly continuing to improve after the crash of 2008, and the consumer confidence index is rising too (it is in fact at a sixteen year high).
Not only that, technology has improved so many aspects of our lives that many now go unnoticed. Compared with just a hundred years ago, life has improved relative to all sorts of different metrics such as life expectancy, the proportion of the population which is literate and child mortality rates. However, one area in which modern life is inferior is how much stress we feel. In a recent survey of 2152 adults, conducted by the American Psychological Association, 47% of people asked said that they are concerned about the amount of stress in their lives. The ways in which these stressed people deal with their problems is not always the best though. For instance, in the same survey, 31% of women said that they comfort eat to deal with stress, while 19% of men gave the same answer. Stress is not just something that you experience at work when you have a big deadline coming up though. It is a response from the brain that can occur in all sorts of situations. A release of adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine can produce a faster heart rate as well as faster breathing. It can be good though because it prepares you to deal with the potentially dangerous situation that you’re in. However, it can also kill you.
Exercise has been proven to help reduce stress. It works because exercise induces your brain to produce neurotransmitters called endorphins which are said to make you feel good. Doing regular exercise can also simply distract you from whatever it is that’s making you feel stressed. This is especially true with things like team sports such as basketball or soccer. You cannot think about the fast paced game while also ruminating about what your boss said recently. Another option to help stay healthy and happy is getting an exercise bike. You can use them from the comfort of your own home, and they give you a thorough workout too. Here’s how to fast-track your fitness gains with a Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike, for instance.
Trying to reduce the amount of time you spend in a high-stress environment is a good idea but it simply misses the point if that high-stress situation is your job and you need it to survive in order to support yourself. There are lots of ways that you can try to relax though. For example, reading has been found to reduce stress by two-third within six minutes. It also has the advantage of helping you learn new things and improving not only your vocabulary but also your capacity for empathy and what’s called ‘theory of the mind’. This refers to the ability to hold two conflicting ideas or opinions in mind at the same time.
Lastly, a great way of combatting stress is getting your friends together and doing something fun. The same endorphins will be released, and you will be similarly distracted. Besides, laughter is the best medicine after all.