April is NationalStressAwareness month! Stress can cause so much harm to body or even add more harm depending on your state of health. Below is a guest post written from award winning author of Malice, Journalist, International speaker and TV Liz Crokin.I’m the victim of a sexual assault that has left me with ongoing health problems that can be extremely debilitating. In 2012, my then ex-boyfriend infected me with genital herpes and the STD spread to meningitis and then the life-threatening meningoencephalitis. The destruction the disease did to my brain has left me with permanent brain damage and there is no cure for herpes. Stress greatly increases the likelihood of a herpes outbreak and it also exacerbates the chronic head pain I suffer from on a daily basis as a result of the brain injury. However, I’ve learned several simple techniques to reduce my stress levels which has helped me control and manage my health issues a lot better. Here are my tips:
Sleep: One of the best things you can do to reduce stress is to sleep. Whether you’re in perfect health or struggle with medical issues, an adequate amount of sleep is required for your body and mind to function at it’s best and full potential.
Exercise: It’s so important to exercise to keep stress at a minimum. Cardio exercise releases endorphins in your brain, and the simple act of exercising works as a natural anti-depressant.
Meditation: As much as our bodies need rest, so do our minds. It’s important to take time out of your day to meditate to clear your head. Whether it’s in a yoga class or in the privacy of your own home, meditation will help you put life’s challenges into perspective and lower your stress level.
Bathe in sea salt: Sea salt has natural healing powers. When I’m stressed or having a bad headache, I’ll take a dip in the ocean or take a bath with sea salt. I always feel relaxed afterwards and it never fails to ease the pain of my headache.
Interact with animals: Animals are natural healers. They have the ability to heal and calm humans. The simple act of petting an animal such as a dog not only reduces stress, it also can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine — the nerve transmitters that give us calming and pleasurable feelings.
Entertainment: One of the few industry’s that thrived during the Great Depression was Hollywood. There’s a reason for that. Getting lost in a good book or indulging in a night out at the movies can help reduce stress. It gives us an opportunity to relax and our mind’s the chance to temporarily escape our own reality. However, I recommend investing in positive and uplifting tales such as survivor stories.
Laugh: Science has proven that laughing is a wonderful form of stress relief. Not only does it release endorphins in your brain, it also aides in muscle relaxation. Take the time to laugh every single day. A good friend once told me that no matter what you’re going through in life, never lose your sense of humor. For the day you lose your sense of humor, that’s the day you will lose everything. And he was right!