Everyone prefers to lead a stress free life. Indeed, many of us even envy those who are able to block out stressful situations and stay positive. However, keeping yourself stress free is about more than throwing on a smile – it’s actually a very important aspect of your health…
The Daily mail reported this week that stress can ‘play havoc with your immune system’ revealing that those people who have high stress levels, also had immune systems which had become less sensitive to the stress hormone cortisol. This in turn, dampens the immune system, doubling person’s chances of catching a cold and can even lead to much more serious health problems such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders. With such scary stress implications, ROAD has put together some of the teams best tips on how we take the stress out of an often hectic and stressful world.
Meditate – This may sound like the sort of trick that you’re not interested in trying, but actually, any form of meditation, even for just a few minutes a day, can help to keep you free of unnecessary stress. One ROADIE says meditation is a great stress buster and doesn’t have to involve sitting cross legged chanting! In fact, with practise, you can even do it on the Tube! Louise prefers Mindfulness Meditation which encourages you to focus on your breathing and observe your thoughts rather than try to suppress or be annoyed by them – which can be self-defeating if you are trying to reduce your stress levels. Louise enjoys meditating at Inner Space http://www.innerspace.org.uk/ – based in London – offers some great introductory courses and you can also sign up for a ‘Thought for the Day’ daily email to remind you to take a few moments and up the feel good factor.
Exercise – Any form of exercise is a great way to take control of the stress in your life. Being active is scientifically proven to boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries. After a long day in the office, Richard eases his stress levels by running, particularly at night when the roads are quiet and fewer people are in the streets! ‘You can really clear your head when there are no distractions, just you, the open road and the odd dog walker.’ As well as lowering stress levels, exercise improves self-confidence and lowers anxiety and aids sleep!
Laugh it Out – As the saying goes, ‘A tickle a day keeps the doctor away. Hannah insists that there is nothing better than a good old belly laugh to improve your mood and your health. Humour and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the harmful effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun and free! To secure a laugh try surrounding yourself with funny friends. If you don’t have any of those – get on YouTube where you will be sure to find some very odd but equally amusing videos – A ROAD favourite: Very Funny Marathon Finish, we challenge you to watch this and not laugh http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1UvxxYIv3U
Treat Yourself – Make time for yourself and do something you really enjoy. The girls at ROAD were particularly excited to learn that retail ‘therapy’ lives up to it’s name. And you don’t even have to open your purse or step into a shop, window shopping has been proven to have the same relaxing effect than if you had to spend £££… phew!!
Friends and Family – Human contact is critical for good health and wellbeing. As stories in the media this week revealed, those people living alone have an increased risk of suffering from stress and depression due to a lack of ‘emotional support and feelings of social integration’ (BBC). It is therefore extremely important to spend time with the ones we love! Heather, believes going out with friends and family is the best de-stressor. ‘It helps make you realise that it’s important to not sweat the small stuff and enjoy life. A glass of wine or two helps as well.’
Chocolate – Not only have reports this week claimed that eating chocolate can help make you thinner, but it has long been known that chocolate also contains phenylephylamine – the same hormone the brain triggers when you fall in love, encouraging feelings of happiness and contentment. Great news, especially at a time when our thoughts tend to turn towards chocolate bunnies…
Happy Easter from ROAD!