Both a healthy diet and exercise have been shown to decrease stress. When many people hear the words "exercise" or "physical activity," they think this means they have to do strenuous exercise every day. But that's not true. All you need is 30 minutes of moderate-level exercise on most days of the week. If you already engage in 30 minutes of moderate-level exercise a day, you can get added benefits by doing more or choosing a more vigorous activity.
Brisk walking, bicycling, and gardening are examples of moderate-level physical activity. You can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each. For instance:
- Use stairs instead of an elevator
- Get off a bus one or two stops early
- Park your car at the far end of the lot at work.
Diet is also an important factor in dealing with stress and migraines. While a minority of people with migraines may need a special diet (see Migraine Diet), most migraine sufferers should focus on eating a heart-healthy diet. A healthy diet can make you feel better and decrease stress levels. As part of a heart-healthy diet, try the following:
- Eat heart-healthy foods, such as:
- Lots of fruits, vegetables, grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
- Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
- Limit foods with saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugars
- Limit your intake of alcohol.
If stress is a major factor in your life, something as simple as spending a small amount of time relaxing every day, even at work, may help you manage stress better. Yoga, meditation, making time to relax, or doing the things you enjoy can also be helpful.
You can reduce physical tension through any of the following techniques:
- Count to 10. This makes you stop and relax before you react to the stressful situation.
- Take deep breaths. This makes you breathe slower and helps your muscles relax.
- Think positive. Remember the things that are good in your life.
- Take a good stretch. Stretching makes muscles relax and helps you feel less tense.
- Take hot baths or showers to help you relax.
- Massage tense muscles. The muscles in the back of your neck and upper back usually get tense when you are stressed.
- Listen to good music.
- Talk with your family and friends about your feelings. It is important for them to know how you feel so they can help you.
Good relationships count, too. Developing strong relationships can help to improve stress levels.