Some stress can motivate a person to complete tasks. However, too much stress can be detrimental to health.
Stress is a normal psychological and physical response to the day-to-day demands of life. The feeling of being overloaded with mental or emotional pressure can turn into stress when you feel unable to cope. While a certain level of stress can be motivational for one person, the same level may overwhelm someone else.
Too much stress causes the body's defense system - known as "fight-or-flight" - to kick in. The nervous system releases a flood of stress hormones that include adrenaline and cortisol. This emergency stress response causes the heart to pound faster, blood pressure to rise, muscles to tighten, and breathing to become more rapid.
Frequent stress can cause the body to be in a heightened state of stress most of the time, which leads to suppressed immunity, digestive and reproductive problems, increased aging, and a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. Stress can also leave you more vulnerable to mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety.
Common causes of stress include work or school, major life changes, relationship difficulties, and financial problems. Finding ways to improve your overall ability to handle stress can help to deal with these stressors.
Below is Medical News Today's compilation of the best blogs that help with stress relief, some background information on how they help with stress management, and useful articles that may help put you on the road to becoming stress-free.
Headspace is a blog and app that focuses on meditation. Research has shown that meditation programs may reduce emotional symptoms including anxiety, depression, and stress, and improve physical symptoms such as pain.
"The Headspace app serves as a personal trainer for your mind and helps people find calmness and clarity," the Headspace team told MNT. "Stress is a daily part of life for most; with Headspace, users are given the tools to cope with some of these triggers, including various forms of stress. Headspace has various packs that target specific areas of stress - for example flying, relationships, commuting, and health."
Headspace has sections that cover stress-related topics, such as the benefits of meditation, that are backed up with scientific evidence, as well as Q&As on subjects including how to deal with a stress-induced headache and how to apply mindfulness to college stresses.
Headspace's top tip for stress management: "Taking 10 minutes a day to meditate and breathe deeply can help create a healthier, happier, and more enjoyable life. While looking for an exit route from stress may seem like the preferable option, tackling these thoughts and feelings head-on, and taking each step moment after moment can lead to calmness and greater awareness."
Here are three articles from Headspace to tackle stress:
- 7 ways science can help you manage stress
- The one-two punch that can knock out stress
- How to beat school stress from the top down
Run Wild Retreats + Wellness
Elinor Fish founded Run Wild Retreats + Wellness in 2010. The company offers running and wellness retreats in the United States, as well as in places such as Iceland, Spain, and Switzerland. The retreats aim to help runners reduce their stress so that they have more energy and vitality.
'Running is an extremely effective way to relieve stress, and you don't need to run for months and months before starting to experience these effects.'
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) state that exercise can reduce stress, is effective at reducing fatigue, boosting concentration and alertness, and improving overall cognitive function. The ADAA also suggest that participation in aerobic exercise, such as running, decreases tension, stabilizes mood, and improves sleep and self-esteem.
"Running is an extremely effective way to relieve stress, and you don't need to run for months and months before starting to experience these effects," Fish explained to MNT. "You'll notice a beneficial shift in mood, mental clarity, and physical well-being within weeks of running as little as 20 minutes 3 days a week."
"At Run Wild Retreats + Wellness, we offer running retreats around the world that combine running and mindfulness to really supercharge these stress-reducing effects. Mindful running is easy to get started with or can enhance one's running routine for reducing stress and building fitness in a way that is sustainable, enjoyable, and healthy," she added.
Run Wild Retreats + Wellness have numerous articles that combat stress through running, from run prescriptions for unwanted stress-related feelings, to showing how running can strengthen our voices as well as our muscles, and allow us to speak up and stand up for issues that matter most to us.
Elinor's top tip for stress management: "Stress can twist us up into knots, physically and mentally. Running is a great way to undo those knots and regain some sense of flow and order. But in order for that to happen, we must practice non-striving."
"Running off stress is a matter of relaxing and releasing, not pushing yourself to exhaustion. At our mindful running retreats, we practice synchronizing the breath with the rhythm of our footsteps in order to relax the muscles and move the body without using a lot of muscular force. This relaxed momentum helps the mind relax, too, thereby undoing the knots that stress has created."
Here are three articles from Run Wild Retreats + Wellness to help with stress relief:
- 6 ways mindful running improves your health
- Can trail running help you perform better work?
- The truth about running and stress
The Journey Junkie
Allie Flavio created The Journey Junkie in 2014 as a place where yoga, travel, and life combine. The blog includes easy-to-follow yoga tutorials, yoga programs and challenges, and meditations. Following Allie's videos - which are packed with poses and breathing techniques - and listening to her calming voice is a guaranteed stress-buster.
Yoga may promote relaxation, improve mood, and reduce stress.
It has been suggested that yoga addresses various health problems, including mental health. Studies have shown that yoga may be effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety. Yoga promotes relaxation and can benefit the body, mind, and breathing, which are often affected by stress. Research has also found that yoga reduces stress in pregnancy, improves mood, and relieves postpartum depression symptoms.
The Journey Junkie demonstrates how to yoga stretch for sore muscles, tension, and relaxation, while another video centers on how to relax your shoulders and neck - a must-see after a day in the office.
Allie's top five restorative yoga poses to reduce stress and relieve tension include:
- Child's Pose
- Sphinx Pose
- Supported Heart Opener
- Supine Spinal Twist
- Legs Up
Pictorial instructions on how to complete these poses can be found here.
Here are three posts from The Journey Junkie that may help you to de-stress:
- 20 minute yoga video to relax, release, and restore
- Yoga flow for stress relief
- Chair yoga video: 10 minute seated rejuvenation flow
Jeff Mann is the founder and editor of Sleep Junkies. The Sleep Junkies manifesto says that they are there to "drag sleep from the margins and into the spotlight." They say that for many people, sleep is an inconvenience and interruption to the constant rhythm of modern life.
Around 43 percent of U.S. adults report that stress keeps them awake at night.
"Our mission is to educate, raise awareness, and let people know that sleep is not 'a criminal waste of time,' it's a life-giving, life-changing activity, one that makes you fitter, stronger, smarter, happier, and healthier," says Mann.
Stress can affect sleep quality. Many people lie awake worrying and feeling anxious, which hinders their ability to get to sleep. Individuals who are subjected to chronic stress have poorer sleep quality, sleep less, and have difficulty functioning well.
According to the American Psychological Association, U.S. adults sleep for an average of 6.7 hours per night - less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours. Additionally, 42 percent of adults say that they have fair or poor quality sleep and 43 percent indicate that stress has prevented them from falling asleep in the past month.
"Whether it's 10 p.m. or 3 a.m., stress keeps the brain in an active state. That's because anxiety interrupts the mechanisms controlling the nervous system," says Sleep Junkies' author Ash Stevens.
"The brain doesn't differentiate between stress over work or relationships, and stress over life-and-death survival, so any kind of worries or anxieties will keep the sympathetic nervous system running. Thus, resisting any and all desires for faster sleep," adds Stevens.
Sleep Junkies' author Jo Abbott's top tip for stress management: "By doing things to promote good sleep, such as reducing stress, engaging in relaxing evening routines before bed, going to bed and getting up at regular times, or seeking professional help for sleeping difficulties, we can facilitate the replenishing activities of our hormones that help us make the most of our day and optimise our well-being."
Here are three articles from Sleep Junkies to help conquer stress:
- These 5 conditions keep millions awake each night
- What happens to your hormones when you're asleep?
- The best bedtime herbs for sleep, relaxation, and anxiety
The Cooper Review
Our final pick of blogs for stress relief is The Cooper Review - the brainchild of comedian Sarah Cooper. The Cooper Review is a satirical blog that features articles, videos, and cartoons on corporate humor. This blog will inject a bit of fun into the most stressful of days at work.
Laughing may help to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Laughter, giggles, and chortles could be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to relieving stress. Research has shown that humor can improve memory, lower levels of stress hormones, boost mood, and protect against the damaging effects of stress.
The Cooper Review brings together a collection of amusing articles that explore anything from 10 tricks to appear smart in meetings, and Google, Amazon, and Facebook's "inside" secrets to hiring the best people, to The Cooper Review's honest diversity in tech report.
Here are three stress-busting articles from The Cooper Review:
- 9 cartoons to help you avoid any actual work
- The people-pleaser's guide to pleasing people
- 9 tricks to appear smart in brainstorming meetings
If you feel overwhelmed by stress, it is important to seek advice from a health professional right away. Chronic stress left untreated can lead to potentially serious health problems, including pain and depression.