Not all stress is bad for us though. There are actually two types of stress – Distress, which is the bad sort we are all familiar with, and Eustress it’s lesser known cousin, which is actually a good thing. Eustress is the kind of elated feeling you might experience while on a skiing slope, acting on stage or simply watching a good film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Distress however is the unpleasant kind of constant, low-level stress we are exposed to all day.
Here are some top tips to reduce Distress and increase Eustress
1. Learn to say no – if you have too much on your plate, you are deep in the realm of distress. It might not always be easy to do, but saying ‘no’ and providing a reason, is one of the easiest and most direct ways of reducing stress. Feeling in control of your your daily life greatly reduces distress.
2. Exercise – This floods your body with Endorphins which are a great help in feeling good. As well as its health benefits, exercise also lets you change your environment away from wherever you might have been feeling stressed, especially if you are able to exercise outside. But be aware of the type of exercise, as endurance sports can create stress in your body also! So better to go for shorter periods of intense bouts of exercise (think interval training) rather than your typical prolonged cardio.
3. Learn to switch off – aka Meditation. This is not always easy, but sticking with it pays dividends. And even if you are only able to do this for a short time, these periods are still very valuable. Meditation has been shown in scientific studies to significantly slow down the internal ageing process!
4. Breathe – Yes we all do this everyday. But taking the time to breathe properly when feeling overly-stressed really works wonders. It has been shown that deep breathing reduces the level of cortisol (one of our major stress hormones which also encourages tissue breakdown including collagen!).
5. Good night’s sleep – This is so important, and one of the most under-rated pieces of advice in the world today. Sleep is also highly important for your skin and general health. Sleeping properly will add years on to your life span. While you sleep (and your brain goes into so-called Delta brainwaves) your cells also repair and regenerate. Lack of sleep on the other hand is known to increase cortisol levels!
6. Yoga – I practice this daily – 15 min. before breakfast. It’s not just good for relieving stress but for a whole host of other reasons. Highly recommended!
7. Avoid Caffeine – This causes adrenaline and other stress hormones to be released into your bloodstream. This doesn’t mean you need to forgo a comforting hot drink however. Green and White Tea are wonderful alternatives which also contain anti-oxidants. Great for your skin
8. Do more of what you enjoy – This might seem obvious, but it’s surprising how often it can be difficult to find the time. These activities will increase your Eustress levels however, and as I said earlier. Stress can be good for you as long as it is eustress, not distress.