Healthy Living

7 Ways To Reduce Stress Like An Optimist

Stressed woman
Don’t break a sweat and keep your cool like a true optimist with these seven ways to reduce stress in your everyday life. Emergency Brake

Whether you're running late to work, have to find a last-minute babysitter replacement, or are booked with meetings until the end of the year, daily stress can take a toll on your health. According to a Stress in America survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association, 22 percent of 1,226 Americans reported high levels of stress. As more Americans are reporting increases in their stress levels within a year, psychologists worry about this serious trend that could potentially have long-term health risks. Daily stress brought on by a busy schedule or late bill payments causes the body's stress system to respond with an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, when these stresses become continual and consume most of your time, the body's stress system begins to go into overdrive and can lead to chronic stress. Excessive exposure to stress is associated with complications in your immune system, as well as susceptibility to infections and numerous diseases.

People's outlook on life can significantly influence their stress levels and determine their ability to handle stress. In a study published in the journal of Health Psychology, researchers examined whether optimism is associated with reduce levels of cortisol secretion — the stress hormone — in persons who perceive their stress levels to be higher than the normal average. The participants of the study — 135 adults who were 60 and over — were followed over a period of six years and were asked to give saliva samples five times a day to researchers to monitor their cortisol levels.

This sample size was asked to report on their daily stress levels and either identify within the range of being an optimist or a pessimist. The results of the study showed when pessimists experience above average levels of stress, their response is much more heightened and therefore they experience difficulty lowering their cortisol levels. Meanwhile, optimists who experienced high levels of stress had stable levels of cortisol in their body's system.

"For some people, going to the grocery store on a Saturday morning can be very stressful, so that's why we asked people how often they felt stressed or overwhelmed during the day and compared people to their own averages, then analyzed their responses by looking at the stress levels over many days," said Joelle Jobin, co-author of the study.

While adopting an optimistic attitude can prove to be difficult during the toughest times, a positive outlook on life can keep you in good health. Take some time from your busy schedule and regulate your stress like a true optimistic with these seven ways below.

1. Beat the a.m. rush

Waking up in the morning can bring a great deal of stress even before you begin your day. Cortisol levels are at their highest from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and begin to decline throughout the day, says Medline Plus. While pressing the snooze button on your alarm clock to get five extra minutes can seem heavenly, it can be the root to accumulated stress throughout your day. To beat the stress of the a.m. rush, wake up five to 10 minutes earlier to give yourself the extra time to get from point A to point B. Five to 10 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but you will be surprised at how much more at ease and in control you'll feel.

2. Visit the restroom

Whether you are experiencing stress at home or at work, a trip to the restroom will provide you with some time to yourself to regroup and physically remove yourself from the stressful situation. Breathing exercises in the bathroom stall will allow you to control your breathing pattern that is often altered by stress. Under stress, a person often takes small, shallow breaths, utilizing their shoulders instead of their diaphragm, says The Better Health Channel. Breathing from your abdominals, however, will control stress and anxiety levels and help your body relax.

3. Walk it out

A stressful situation can often make you feel trapped and pressured, which can further prolong the anxiety brought on by stress. Taking a stroll amid a stress-inducing dilemma can help you get fresh air and boost your mood. A brisk walk for 30 to 45 minutes is a good form of exercise and can help you manage your stress. The walk will help boost your endorphins to give you that feel good feeling, says Mayo Clinic. Endorphins will boost your mood and your self-confidence, significantly reducing stress levels in your body.

4. Eat and drink vitamin C

A glass of orange juice to begin your day or consuming vitamin C-rich foods like strawberries or berries can help you better regulate your stress. Vitamin C promotes healing and relieving stress because it inhibits cortisol while boosting your immune system. My Cleveland Clinic suggests trying red peppers with hummus to combat stressful situations.

5. Sing out loud

If singing is not your forte, some lip-syncing could do the trick and help reduce your stress levels. You can crank up the music at home, in the car, or on your mp3 to boost your mood and lessen your anxiety. By singing, you can relieve stress, promote relaxation, and enhance your immune system, says Harvard Medical School.

6. Laugh it out

Laughter is the best medicine, the old saying goes, so it's no surprise that a laugh can aid you with stress. Even anticipating a laugh can reduce cortisol levels in your body. According to a news release by the American Physiological Society, anticipating a positive event can lower the stress hormones in the body and help you feel at ease. Whether you go out to a comedy club or watch a comedy move on Netflix, you're guaranteed to be less stressed by the end.

7. Limit happy hour stress drinking

After a long and stressful work day, the idea of happy hour entertains the minds of the employed. While having a few cocktails and beers at the bar seems harmless, your drink quantity can add on to your stress levels. The University of Notre Dame says that alcohol disturbs sleep patterns and can further aggravate your stress, especially when your cortisol levels are their highest. Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per stressful situation to avoid prolonged stress.

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