There’s something we need to discuss, and it simply can’t wait any longer: You need to take a break! That’s right—I’m officially giving you a “prescription” to take a time-out for yourself. Why? Well, life is full of stress, and de-stressing is absolutely critical for your health. And what better way to de-stress than to allow yourself a break?
Sounds simple, but it’s actually not so easy, is it? We’re all so used to being on-the-go that it can be quite difficult to calm both your body and your mind in order to actually tap into the health benefits of de-stressing.
We’ll review why it’s so important for your health to take time to de-stress as well as some of the best ways to de-stress—including taking time off work! (That’s probably one of the best directives you’ve received from a doctor to date, right?) So, let’s jump in and give you all the tools you need to take a much-deserved break for your health.
The Importance of De-stressing
We’ve discussed before how the unrelenting stress in your daily life—the very stress to which you’ve likely become so accustomed—can result in experiencing chronic stress. And chronic stress is nothing to shrug off; after all, it is the No. 1 leading cause of adrenal fatigue and many of the major health conditions and diseases that plague Americans today.
This is why de-stressing is so important: In order to prevent and possibly even reverse disease processes, you must first learn how to address the never-ending daily stress in your life. You must learn how to calm down your body so that your adrenal glands aren’t constantly releasing high amounts cortisol (aka “the stress hormone”).
So, what stress am I talking about? It’s that constant pinging of your smartphone or email. It’s in managing complex relationships in your life with your partner, kids, aging parents, or more demanding friendships.
It’s the pressure to meet your deadlines or manage your complex boss at work. It’s even in the processed foods you eat in order to keep up with your busy life or the mounting bills that need to be paid.
Whatever your situation, we’re all on-the-go more now than ever. Do you sometimes feel like you’re a hamster running in a wheel with no end in sight? If so, you’re definitely in need of de-stressing.
The Benefits of De-stressing
The amazing thing about finding ways to de-stress is that it not only helps to prevent damage to your body, but it also has some pretty powerful benefits to existing concerns.
For example, did you know that de-stressing has been found to not only help calm anxiety but also aid in both pain and weight management? Pretty incredible, right? Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
1. Helps relieve anxiety.
This benefit isn’t too surprising, right? If you think back to the last time you spent some time de-stressing, odds are pretty high that thoughts of stress and anxiety don’t pop to mind. And that’s because relaxation has a pretty powerful anti-anxiety effect.
According to a meta-analysis of 27 studies, researchers found that relaxation techniques were very effective in decreasing anxiety. Interestingly, they discovered that repeating the techniques frequently over a long period of time at home produced the greatest results. 
2. Aids pain management
Believe it or not, chronic stress often leads to a very common complaint: pain. This pain can surface as anything from headaches and/or migraines to mild body aches to chronic fatigue syndrome and more.
Fortunately, there’s evidence that de-stressing via relaxation can help reduce both acute and chronic pain.
According to a 2010 review, muscle relaxation helped to reduce pain in those with chronic low back pain and pregnancy-related pain. Relaxation was also found to help significantly reduce pain associated with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Meanwhile, practicing mindfulness (or being present in the moment) improved physical and psychological pain—results that remained for up to 15 months! Moreover, it was shown to help reduce pain, depression, and anxiety in fibromyalgia sufferers. 
3. Supports healthy weight management.
Did you know that taking time to de-stress can actually help to support both weight loss and weight maintenance goals? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, I have great news for you: It isn’t!
While increased stress has been positively linked to weight gain, the opposite is true as well: De-stressing can actually support healthy weight management. Let’s take a look at how this works, according to the science.
First, a 2017 study on 39 adults revealed that chronic stress is linked with weight gain. The researchers found that those with higher cortisol levels also displayed higher levels of the hormones responsible for making you feel hungry. They also discovered that higher cortisol, insulin, and chronic stress were predictive of future weight gain.
In fact, the participants with greater chronic stress gained more than twice as much weight in a six-month period than those with less chronic stress. The researchers stated that the average weight gain in stressed individuals was 7.8 pounds. 
In another study, published in 2018, researchers assessed the impact of a stress management program on weight loss, depression, anxiety, and stress. The researchers followed 45 adults with obesity who were divided into two groups: 22 people followed the stress management program while 23 served as the control group with no intervention.
The stress management program lasted for eight weeks and was comprised of deep breathing, relaxation, guided visualization, and nutrition/dietary education.
Amazingly, the researchers found that those who completed in the stress management program experienced a significantly larger reduction in BMI than the control group. In fact, on average, the stress management group’s BMI was reduced by an extra 43.8 percent! They also displayed improved depression and anxiety scores and better overall health. 
As you can see, there are numerous reasons to take some time to yourself and de-stress. But where do you start? Keep reading for some of the best (and easiest) ways to de-stress.
The Best Ways to De-stress
Here are four of the top ways you can begin de-stressing.
If you find that you’re having a hard time “unplugging” from the daily grind, take a few moments to try meditation. It takes a little practice to try to turn your mind off, but, once you get the hang of it, meditating is a really great way to begin de-stressing.
Start by finding a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted. This can be outdoors in nature or in a quiet nook in your home. You can even post a note outside your office door that you don’t want to be disturbed for a few minutes.
Next, take a few deep breaths to help you calm both your mind and body. By taking a few deep breaths, you’re actually telling your brain it’s time to slow down and relax. Amazingly, your brain then communicates this message to the rest of your body. 
If you need some help getting the hang of meditation, check out my article that walks you through the three easy steps for beginners. You’ll be a pro in no time!
2. Seek social support.
Sometimes what you need is the support of someone who understands. Simply sharing your feelings or what’s overwhelming you with someone else can be a huge relief.
In fact, studies have shown that, due to its positive effects on stress, social support impacts life expectancy just as much as the effects of obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and even physical activity! 
Wondering just how impactful this support can be? Well, a recent study revealed that people with strong friendships have a 50-percent increase in survival rate, compared to those without strong social support. 
You can learn more about all the benefits of having solid friendships and even the stress-relieving benefits of being there for others by clicking here.
3. Get creative.
If you’re already incorporating the last two de-stressing tips but want to take it a step further, consider letting your creative side shine.
According to a 2018 review of 37 studies, researchers found that participating in one of four creative arts therapies significantly reduced stress in participants. The four categories included: art, music, dance/movement, and drama. Several of the studies reported reductions in cortisol levels, improved sleep, and even improved coping skills for stress. 
For more information on how certain creative outlets, such as dancing and playing music, can help to lower your stress, check out my article on 5 Fun Ways to Reduce Stress.
4. Take a vacation from work.
Stepping away from work and simply changing your environment for one day can help you to de-stress. That’s not really surprising, is it? After all, work-related stress is on the rise, with 40 percent of workers classifying their jobs as “very or extremely stressful.” 
Plus, one study showed that high amounts of work-related stress is associated with poorer health and increased likelihood of experiencing anxiety, depression, and fatigue.  All the more reason to take a break, right?
But what can you expect when you take a day (or two) off? Well, according to a recent survey, 68 percent of American workers reported having a more positive mood after taking a vacation from work.
Meanwhile, 57 percent reported returning to work with more motivation and less stress. Finally 58 percent reported feeling more productive, while 55 percent said their work quality improved. 
But what health benefits can you expect from taking time off work? Take a look at the graphic below for some interesting ways taking a few days away from your job can benefit your health.
Fortunately, you don’t need to play a five-star resort vacation to tap into these incredible benefits. You can simply do something you enjoy, such as reading, spending time with family or friends, or watching TV. Just find something that brings you joy and aids in de-stressing.
After taking some time for yourself for a day or two, you may find that you feel refreshed and like yourself again. And what better gift can you give yourself than that?
- Life is full of stress, and de-stressing is absolutely critical for your health.
- Some of the top benefits of de-stressing include relieving anxiety, aiding pain management, and supporting healthy weight management.
- A few of the best ways to de-stress include: meditating, having social support, getting creative, and taking time off work.
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