Let’s face it, the “to do” list seems never ending. Something is always popping up at work that requires your immediate attention, and family and friends needed your attention on an urgent matter like yesterday. I mean life keeps coming at you at a speed where it’s hard to cope and manage. There just isn’t enough time in the day to complete everything expected of you, next thing you know, you’re stressed and overwhelmed.
Yes, stress is a normal part of your life and it can have you feeling helpless, as if you’re not in control of your life.
Learning how to manage stress is more than coping it’s about taking control of how you handle your thoughts, emotions, and problems.
Here are some steps you can take to alleviate the pressure you may endure as a result of stress:
- Exercise: I am sure that you are not shocked to see exercise as the first thing on this blog post. I may be bias as I love to exercise but let me tell you it is the best way for me to relieve my stress and anxiety. That 30 minutes to 1 hour that I can take for myself in the gym (or at home), helps me relax, refocus and feel revitalized. Exercise helps to release endorphins which are the feel-good hormones that help your body get a natural boost of energy. It helps to improve your concentration, mindset, brain function, sleep and that’s not even thinking about the physical points of improved muscle, bone structure and movement. It is worth getting in some movement even when you think your tight on time, you’ll thank yourself!
- Relax Your Muscles: Have you ever noticed when you’re stressed out that you get a sore neck, tight back or another part of your body is just aching? Well this could be because when you are stressed, one of your bodies ways of responding is to tense your muscles. A technique called, “Progressive Muscle Relaxation,” can help elevate this tension and over time you will notice it can help reduce your stress levels. The basic idea is that as you breath in, you tense and group of muscles, and then as you breath out you relax them. You work on different muscle groups at a time, but if you are prone to tight muscles from stress, this might be a great technique to investigate further!
- Deep Breathing: Would you believe me if I told you that the number one “Super Stress Buster,” according to the American Institute of Stress is BREATHING! Well you gotta believe it cause it’s true. Most of us think that relaxing is just sitting in front of the TV after a long day’s work, but has that made you feel any better? Instead take 5-10 minutes a day, (The American Institute of Stress recommends 20-30 minutes but work your way up to that, to ensure that you are setting aside time and making it a habit) on abdominal breathing. This type of breathing and concentration, helps to increase oxygen supply to the brain and will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to trigger calmness. It will further help your muscles relax, decrease your blood pressure and decrease your metabolism. Soon you’ll realize your stress is decreasing and the best part, breathing can be done anywhere so if you’re in a stressful situation take 5 min and work on your breathing and then tackle your situation, you’ll be sure to feel better!
- Nutrition (Eat Balanced Meals): When you’re under stress do you reach for the chips, grab a chocolate bar or down another cup of coffee? As easy as those options are, they are packed with artificial sugars (check out my most recent blog, “5 Signs You Might Be Addicted To Sugar” to learn more), and although they give you a quick boost, they are not helping to properly FUEL your body. Not having the right fuel to keep you going actually puts your body under more stress. Try and plan your meals or if you are stuck getting something on the go, choose options that include a protein, fat and carbohydrate (Example: Chicken breast with vegetables, sweet potatoes and some avocado). These foods will provide nutrients to fuel your body and keep you going long term, and make sure to always have a piece of fruit around so you swap out that chocolate for the natural sugars of a fruit.
- Journal: This one might be taking you back to your childhood where you used to write all your secrets in your “Diary” and lock it up so your siblings or parents couldn’t find it. Well its time to bring it back! Journaling is a way for you to escape from the hustle and bustle that surrounds you and focus on yourself and let your emotions out on paper. It helps to clear your mind, organize your thoughts, and enables you to recognize your own thoughts and desires. It can also be effective in goal setting, as writing your goals out on paper and leaving it in an easily accessible spot, enables you to constantly look back at those goals and realign to help you meet them.
- Get More Sleep: This is not the first time (and definitely not the last) that you’ve heard me talk about the need for more sleep. Hey, I think it’s so important that I wrote an entire blog on it, which you can check out HERE. Sleep is fantastic for reducing your stress levels. By following a “sleep routine” that allows your body to hit a point of relaxation before going to sleep, you will not only help restore your body, but improve your concentration, mood, judgement and decision making. When your mind and body are relaxed, revived and function at top performance it will help keep the stress at bay.
- Learn to Say “NO”: This is a hard one for many of us, as we don’t want to let people down and believe that somehow, we can accomplish everything. The problem is, when we always say “Yes” we may end up over burdening ourselves, increasing our stress levels and ending up run down and sick. So, the next time that you have a lot on your plate, evaluate your situation and realistically decide if you can take on more or not. If you can’t then say “NO” and don’t feel bad about it, the world won’t end by you saying “NO.” You might also have a situation where what you really want to do on a Friday night is just relax and read a book or go to bed early instead of going out. Honour that and don’t feel bad because you are helping yourself, which will long term help you show up as your best self for your friends and family.
The reality is, it’s your life and even though you cannot control everything that happens in it, you can control how you manage the stress that comes with it.
Stress is inevitable and will occur at some point or another in your life. Learning how to manage stress is vital, to your own personal health and wellbeing. Take one of the points above and start adding it into your daily routine. After a couple of weeks try adding another one and see if your stress levels begin to decrease, hopefully leaving you more relaxed and calm to tackle things coming your way.
If you are looking for guidance in trying to lower your stress levels or want to set some new personal goals in the gym, reach out to me for your FREE 15-MINUTE CALL. I’d love to chat and help you get started!
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