Stress and anxiety are the result of the mind focusing on an overwhelming number of actions that need to be done, or things that need to be done where no solution to how they can be done is found. Failure at tasks causes worry and stress. Stress is not an enemy and it has an important function of keeping a person alive, safe and happy. There are times when the amount of stress crosses the threshold of being healthy to a level that is unhealthy. An unhealthy amount of stress causes unhappiness, health issues, and could result in death. For good mental and physical health, it is important to apply techniques to keep stress at normal levels.
Using the body’s five senses is a good way to distract the brain and offer soothing and calming input that the mind can focus on. Whether people realize it or not, using the five senses is a standard technique applied already to feel better when a high amount of stress is felt. When this happens without thoughtful commitment, unhealthy stress can be replaced with unhealthy amounts of eating, thrill-seeking or other detrimental habits.
Comfort food was so named because it is not necessarily food consumed to sustain life. Comfort food is special dishes eaten to bring pleasure. Often the food is unhealthier than a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables. Many people enjoy foods with lots of butter or sugar to make them feel better mentally. Mom’s old-fashion chicken pot pie recipe may contain thousands of useless calories but when eaten, a person is reminded of a happier time when the most they had to worry about is what cartoons to watch on Saturday mornings.
Using food to reduce stress works too well. Chocolate releases pleasure chemicals in the brain and people feel better when eating it. But too much of a good thing is bad. Eating cannot solve a problem that is creating stress and anxiety unless the initial problem is not having enough food. This is rarely the real problem. Using food to balance levels of stress can be healthy if the stress level is so high and consistently high that it is causing major health or life issues.Food addiction can be an issue, so go ahead and polish off a tub of ice cream if there was a bad breakup, but make sure it is a rare occurrence and stabilize the ice cream with a healthy exercise plan once the stress levels have returned to normal.
Music is the leader when it comes to using sound to reduce stress. Sound travels on waves and the soundwaves of a rhythmic beat activate areas of the brain that control mood. When brain activity is stimulated, the mind is able to logically work out difficult problems easier. Certain songs can trigger powerful memories of happier times. These memories can bring stress levels down and eliminate hopelessness.
The good news about music is that over-indulging will not cause serious health effects unless music is used nonstop and the body is not given any quiet time. The bad news is that as music can invoke happy memories, it can also invoke very sad memories. When using music to reduce stress, it is most helpful to apply songs with a happy beat that can coax the body into movement. Sad love songs or deep songs should be avoided until stress levels are low enough to process these songs in a healthy way.
Humans crave physical affection. Lack of physical contact with someone else can cause stress and loneliness. Sometimes a nice, long hug can pull a person out of a dark and angry mood entirely. Physical contact is not readily available for some people, especially single adults. Animals are great at filling the role of using touch to reduce stress.
Petting and feeling the textures of fur, along with providing affection to the animal is very calming and reduces anxiety. Of course, this activity can be taken too far. Filling a house with 15 cats and four dogs may mean a stressed person is never lonely, but animals deserve a lot of time and affection. This is greatly reduced when there are too many.
When humans consume works of art, it stimulates areas of the brain differently. It increases critical thinking and helps people achieve a better mood. By visually connecting with a piece, different emotional responses are elicited. If stress and depression need to be lowered, a trip to a local gallery can provide an excellent distraction while building culture.
Mini getaways to a gallery cannot solve the underlying issues that create stress and should not be used to break free from reality. But they can be used as a temporary place to regenerate if stress has a person at their wit’s end. Looking at art wakes up the problem-solving parts of the brain in a way that subconsciously it begins working on major problems. It is not uncommon to experience ah-ha moments of clarity and find solutions to issues while taking a break and viewing beautiful works of art.
Aromatherapy is big business because it is an outstanding tool to promote a calm and relaxed mood. Using essential oils like lavender chemically balance hormone changes in the brain and help release dopamine and other chemicals that produce feelings of happiness. The pleasant aroma of these plant extracts is pleasing to the nose which allows for deeper breaths and more oil introduced to the bloodstream.
For thousands of years, mankind has been using essential oils to cure many bodily issues, including mental issues like depression and agitation. Some oils can be ingested; some can be topically rubbed into the skin but most can be inhaled or used in a diffuser to fill a room with beneficial oils. Besides creating a better mood and reducing stress, certain oils also heal physical issues and provide total body care. Oils can be used in combinations with other oils to target specific results.
Stress and anxiety are major concerns for Americans. If left untreated, serious mental issues could paralyze a person from leading a normal, happy life. There is not one magic pill to eliminate the issue. Some stress is healthy and needed to keep humans out of trouble and life-threatening situations.
The problem is that the level of stress remains constantly at a high level in some people. They are unable to cope with problems because the stress clouds their judgment to the point where everything seems hopeless. By using the body’s five senses, singly or in combination with each other, stress can be reduced, replaced with feelings of relaxing calm and happiness.