There’s a reason that stress has been commonly referred to as the “silent killer” within the medical community. Study after study has shown that stress takes an enormous toll on the human body, increasing the risk of serious conditions including depression, chronic headaches, heart disease, insomnia, diabetes, fertility problems and high blood pressure just to name a few.
A vast majority of Americans experience stress levels high enough to affect their physical health on a daily basis. Given the dramatic challenges facing our world right now, it’s safe to say that our stress levels aren’t likely to decrease on their own any time soon. April has been designated National Stress Awareness Month, and we can probably all agree that it couldn’t come at a better time. In the spirit of the season, we’d like to offer a few stress-reduction techniques anyone can incorporate into their daily routine.
Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy has been shown to enhance mood, combat depression and even counter certain types of inflammation. The way it works, essentially, is that an LED panel emits light from the red and infrared parts of the spectrum, which are the wavelengths thought by scientists to be the most healing. Unlike ultraviolet rays that emit from the sun, the light emitted in Red Light Therapy is perfectly safe and will not cause skin damage. Red Light Therapy is not a new discovery by any means, but it has grown in popularity over the years and is now widely available through many doctor’s offices, specialty salons and even some dental offices.
Mindfulness is a wide-ranging term that essentially means training yourself to maintain a constant, moment-to-moment awareness of your own thoughts, actions and surrounding environment. Common mindfulness techniques include meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. The “raisin exercise” exemplifies the mindfulness technique by breaking down the simple act of eating a raisin into a five minute exercise that emphasizes the importance of each sensory step along the way, from holding to smelling to tasting. Similarly, a body scan can be used to help focus awareness on every element of the body, slowing down the mind and reducing tension and stress.
We all know that exercise is beneficial for your physical health, but did you know it can also have positive effects on your mental health? Not only can physical activity serve as a distraction from your daily stressors, it also causes your body to release endorphins which in turn create a sense of overall well-being. Even short, 5-minute exercises that require little to no equipment can be beneficial to your mental health. Isometrics, for example, offer a quick and convenient way to get a quick mood-boost in any time, any place.
Isometric exercise can be as simple as holding a calf lift, or pressing your palms together for a few seconds to engage your muscles, but if you’re looking for a little more guidance and direction, a device like the Activ5 might be for you. The Activ5 works in tandem with a free training app to coach users through short, isometric exercises that can be done virtually anywhere, so it can be a great for individuals who struggle to find the time in the day to exercise.
Relieving stress can have a lasting impact on your overall well-being. It can boost your mood, increase productivity, improve sleep and much more. We owe it to ourselves and each other to find ways to prolong our mental and physical health, in any way we can.