Stress can become a serious problem. But what is stress, and how can you keep it at bay? Read on to find out.

What is stress?

Endocrinologist Hans Selye suggested there were two different types of stress: positive and negative. Positive stress is healthy because it allows us to quickly adapt to a situation by enhancing our concentration. But negative stress can lead to unhappiness, immune deficiency, and even physical illness in some cases. Selye called negative stress “distress.” If it becomes chronic, this completely natural reaction can damage your well-being. Stress can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure, and chronic stress may lead to cardiovascular, sleep, and digestive problems, as well as issues with your immune system,

Sleep soothes

Sleep can help you reduce stress, and it’s crucial for good health and well-being. Our data has shown that better sleep is linked to a healthier body mass index (BMI) and increased activity levels. In a study of Withings users, we found that BMI level was influenced by sleep duration: 66.5% of users who slept an average of less than 7 hours a night were overweight.

Here are some rules to keep in mind for a better night’s sleep:

Try to keep a regular sleeping pattern—go to sleep and get out of bed at the same time each day. But don’t spend more than 20 minutes trying to fall asleep: if you can’t sleep, try reading a book, writing a letter, or taking a walk around the house..
Keep your bedroom at a moderate temperature and block out any distractions, such as light or sound.
Sleep in comfortable clothes — or, ahem, even sleep naked if that helps you feel your best.
Choose a comfortable pillow, mattress, and sheets.

Another tip for yoga fans: Try the aptly named Nighttime Goddess Stretch pose to tackle insomnia. Yoga may trigger a relaxation response in the body. To perform the pose, lie back with your knees bent and your arms out; then place the soles of your feet together. Allow your knees to fall open in a diamond shape.

Physical activity can help you to unwind

Regular exercise is a great way to deal with stress, which brings to mind the famous phrase “Healthy body, healthy mind.” But you should obviously choose an activity that suits you.

Exercise triggers the production of endorphins, which can create a feeling of happiness and calm and can even increase your self-confidence. What’s more, regular exercise can calm your nervous system, enhance your immune system and reduce stress. But go easy on yourself when you’re feeling run-down. Sometimes exercise can perk you up, but if it’s not happening, don’t stress about it.

And perhaps you need to find something you enjoy. Feel free to mix up the activities you choose as well. Variety is the spice of life, and a variety of activities can also exercise a larger range of muscles. Are you a jogger? It’s great exercise, but maybe try to add in some yoga, to give you something that stretches your body and mind. Or perhaps dancing or a team sport can help you feel more engaged? If exercise feels like a chore, it’s definitely time to change it up.

Food can be your ally

Everyone knows that you should eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day, but did you know that specific foods may be calming? Here are some tips:

Dark chocolate (70% cocoa) may help to reduce stress, but should be eaten in moderation
Nuts, such as almonds, are also great because they’re high in magnesium, but again, you may want to eat them in moderation
Salmon, sardines and tuna fish can reduce stress, are rich in omega-3s and are really good for the brain
Whole grains can help to keep your blood sugar from spiking, which may affect mood
Tea may also be relaxing and potentially reduce stress

Meditation can help you chill out

Meditation has a direct effect on stress and anxiety management. It is a powerful tool for restoring psychological balance, as demonstrated by neuroscience. If you are unfamiliar with this practice, know that it is simply a matter of focusing on the present moment. If you are not used to meditating, you can start with the free Petit BamBou program in the Health Mate app, which offers you an introduction to this practice.

Finally, you may want to keep an eye on your blood pressure with our connected blood pressure monitors and explore devices that can help you balance activity and nutrition. In the end, it’s up to you to find out what makes you feel better. Never feel guilty about taking time to relax and take care of your mental health. If you are no longer able to channel your stress and it becomes too much, don’t hesitate to contact a health professional who can find more strategies to help you relax.

Read more: blog.withings.com