But while it feels good to conquer the day, in the end, it just simply feels better — and is more beneficial to your health, specifically your digestive health — to relax. All you need to do is follow a few simple steps that will help create a less stressful life and healthier gut!

Why Reduce Stress?

It shouldn’t be a surprise to you that reducing stress can help with all sorts of diseases and improve chronic illness. That’s why some argue that stress is our biggest health concern, given that it has been linked to so many other complications, from heart problems and dementia to digestive diseases like Crohn’s, Colitis, IBS, and SIBO. While it’s hard to scientifically prove that stress directly causes any of these diseases we know that it has an effect on them. People are even misdiagnosed with diseases, like epilepsy, when learning helpful relaxation and coping techniques can be a better solution.

Relaxing is healthier for you than you might think. Check out the steps you can make to reduce stress and improve your gut health.

Steps You Can Take to Reduce Stress

1. Talk About It

Try sharing your feelings and stresses with a partner, family member, friend, work colleague, or mental health professional. When you’re feeling stressed, talking can provide a release and a fresh perspective, making you feel a lot better.

2. Breath Deeply

Breathing exercises can help relieve stress. Inhale slowly through your nose then exhale slowly out your mouth. Pause, and then repeat this deep breathing for up to 15 breaths. Do this exercise several times each day and you will physically start feeling more relaxed immediately.

3. Eat Right

A healthy diet is the perfect start to help reduce stress. Shoot for at least two servings of fruit and three of vegetables per day. One banana, for instance, is loaded with vitamin B6 to help the body create mood-boosting serotonin.

4. Pick Up a Hobby!

Whether it’s as simple as planting a garden in your backyard or woodworking, a hobby or activity that you truly enjoy can go a long way towards dialing down stress. You know it’s important to make time for yourself, so why not start today?

5. Relax your Shoulders

Try this gentle exercise several times a day to let go of tension and relieve stress. Drop your head to one side and gently roll it; repeat three to five times, then reverse directions. Repeat this exercise five times to relax your shoulders.

6. Go For a Walk

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of brisk activity every week to improve mental health. That’s just over 20 minutes per day! Find an activity you enjoy, or ask a friend or family member to join you!

7. Practice Yoga

Yoga has been providing a number of health benefits for thousands of years. Studies show that Hatha yoga – a gentle form of exercise that uses body postures and deep breathing – can help people recover from stressful situations.

8. Learn to Balance

We live in a society where many people feel the need to “do it all.” Sure, it’s important to do your best, but continually over-promising at work (even if you love your job) or over-committing in your social life (even doing things you enjoy) can add unnecessary stress.

9. Disconnect

Do you feel the need to be near your phone at all times – day and night? If so, you should know that just 10 minutes of “me time” each day can refresh your mental outlook and slow down your body’s stress response.

10. Meditate and Visualize Peace

Spend at least five minutes each day imagining a peaceful scene such as a warm beach or a quiet spot in the woods. Concentrate on what you see, hear, smell, feel and taste and let go of the stress! Being mindful of the present moment and practicing regular meditation is an easy tool that everyone can use to reduce stress.

Guide to Inspired Life