Want to reduce stress? Start by listening to your body.

Rear view of a couple relaxing on a sofa at home and looking outside a green background through the window of the living room

The “Stress in America” poll  found that one-third of people in the United States experience extreme levels of stress. Too often, we think that if we aren’t stressed we aren’t busy enough, but that isn’t and shouldn’t be the case. In small doses, stress can be helpful, even healthy, but feeling stressed for loo long can be detrimental to your physical and emotional health.

To minimize the stress in your life, listen to your body, take pause and follow these tips to take better care of yourself. While an exact feeling of stress can be difficult to pinpoint at times, stress often manifests itself in physical symptoms. Sometimes you may not relate what you’re feeling physically to other stressors in your life, but they can be connected. The good news is, there are many ways to take care of your body that will ultimately reduce stress. That’s why it’s important to take regular breaks to pause and take inventory of your physical feelings.

Are you experiencing frequent headaches?

Hunger and dehydration can not only exacerbate feelings of stress, but they can also cause killer headaches. Keep healthy nutrient-dense snacks like almonds, string cheese or fresh fruit in arms reach throughout the day. If drinking enough water is a challenge, flavor it with lemon, lime, fresh berries or cucumbers, or try the rubber band trick.

Do you have muscle tension, neck or back pain?

Take a few minutes to stretch each day, or better yet, schedule a massage. In the meantime, taking a hot bath and adding a lavender scented bath bomb can calm your nerves and ease tension.

Do you have difficulty falling or staying asleep?

Getting a good night’s sleep is imperative to reducing stress. Make sure you take a break from TV and your computer or phone thirty minutes before bedtime to allow your eyes and brain to relax. It also helps to keep your bedroom cool and dark (check out this blog post on creating a sleep sanctuary).

Are you experiencing loss of appetite or overeating “comfort foods”?

It’s common to under or over eat when you feel stressed. Try to be mindful of the foods you are putting in your body. Keeping a food journal can help you pinpoint times that you may be “stress eating,” so you can keep healthier alternatives fully stocked during those triggering times. Leafy greens, salmon, blueberries and pistachios are just some of the delicious foods that can help your body fight stress.

Have you been sick more often this year?

Stress takes a toll on our health, but eating well, getting enough sleep and taking vitamins can help keep common ailments at bay. And here’s another bonus of taking your vitamins: research shows a daily multivitamin can reduce stress, anxiety and levels of fatigue.

Have you been more irritable lately or do you have a short temper?

Indulge in some “me” time. Taking time for yourself – even a few moments to take a daily walk around the block – can calm your temper and help you feel more at ease. While you’re at it, try switching to decaf. Reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake – substances that can lead to anxiety and irritability – can keep you from being quick to anger when things don’t go your way.

Are you feeling anxious or jittery?

Meditation and yoga are meaningful ways to reduce anxiety. According to one study, more than 85 percent of American adults who used yoga perceived reduced stress as a result. Not sure where to get your Namaste on? Check out yoga classes at your local rec center. Don’t miss the signs your body is giving you by only listening to the voice inside your head. It’s important for your mental and physical health to take time for yourself and make sure you are doing what you can to reduce stress.




Be more mindful, get better sleep and reduce stress through guided meditations on Buddhify.




Whether you are new to meditation or want to increase your practice, Headspace has hundreds of sessions and SOS exercises to help you get through stress spikes.



“The Daily Meditation Podcast”

Guided mediations can offer gifts that keep on giving — reduce stress and sleep better, which also helps reduce stress. Make meditation a daily activity with this actionable podcast.



MindTools Stress Diary

Keeping track of your stress can help find ways to reduce it. Download a free stress diary template to help you manage your day-to-day stress.




Use food to your stress-relieving advantage. Here are a handful of super foods to help your body fight stress.


Author: Stephanie Sample

August 3, 2017