Are you frazzled? Can’t focus? Sleeping badly? Not able to control the things in your own life? You may be suffering from excess stress.
Stress, per sé is not always a bad thing. Muscle stress, for example during exercise facilitates adaptation and in turn, creates increased muscle strength or hypertrophy (size). Controlled stress on the heart and lungs during aerobic exercise actually improves the endurance of your cardiovascular system so you can work out more efficiently.
But what if your heart rate is elevated and you feel anxious or tired and you are NOT exercising? This is an example of mental stress and it is reversible. Remember, YOU are in control of your stress, not vice versa. So, here are a few things you can do to ‘chill out’ and reduce the stress in your life.
It sounds weird, but just concentrating on your own breathing can reduce stress enormously.
Try this: sit in a comfortable chair or lie down somewhere quiet . If you are sitting, make sure your spine is elongated, your chin away from your chest and your throat clear.
Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose all the way into the bottom of your lungs. The hand on your chest should not move, but the air in your lungs should push the lower hand out as you breathe.
Hold the breath for the count of four and then let it out slowly through your mouth for a count of 4.
Just a couple of minutes of this breathing can really calm you down. Do this any time you feel overwhelmed or in an anxious situation.
I spent a lot of years thinking that Yoga was only for lazy people who did not want to exercise. HOW WRONG I WAS! Gentle stretching and moving your body through all three planes of movement helps to alleviate the physical stress of tight musculature that may actually be caused by mental stress.
Muscles are covered in connective tissue and fascia (a bit like cling wrap) and relaxing this tissue can free up joints, clear blocked lymph ducts and release tight tendons and ligaments. Lymph ducts carry toxins to the bloodstream for elimination so a buildup of lymph fluid can have you feeling toxic, bloated and sickly.
Yoga can be gentle or challenging. Not only do you get the physiological benefit of relaxing your body, you also get the mental benefits of a clear mind, with more focus.
3. ME! TIME
We all have commitments. To school, family, work, friends. What about YOU? Do you have a commitment to YOU?
If life is overwhelming and you just can’t fit everything in – add another appointment to your schedule. ME TIME.
Spend an hour walking along the beach, go for a hike, have a pedicure, a massage, read a book, listen to some tunes in the dark. Whatever makes YOU happy and releases your mind from the daily grind.
Make it a priority. DO NOT compromise your ME TIME by bumping it for something ‘more important’. Nothing is more important than ME TIME.
4. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Can’t get to sleep? Always hungry? Get to 3:30pm and need to devour half the fridge? These are all signs of malnutrition.
“But I eat HEAPS and I’m not skinny! I can’t be malnourished”, I hear you cry. Just because you eat a lot of calories does not mean you are well nourished . A body full of processed, nutrient-devoid food is always going to be hungry. A body full of sugary treats will result in subsequent low blood sugar and lethargy (particularly mid afternoon).
So feed your body with whole foods. If it comes in a packet – ditch it! Fresh vegetables, fruits (for sweetness), whole grains, lean protein and healthy non-processed fats are where most of your calories should come from.
Cleaning up your diet can improve your sleep, reduce your stress and give you more energy. It’s a no-brainer.
Sounds obvious. Get more sleep. Well, in order to get more sleep you need to tell your body that it’s bedtime.
So that means no iPads, cell phones, Xboxes, TVs or any other gadgets at least 45 minutes before bed. TURN THEM OFF!
Have a bedtime routine. Have a relaxing bath or a warm shower. Turn all the lights off or dim them and get snuggly. If you are wide awake try reading for 20 minutes as this really tires your eyes.
If you have followed the advice above, you should be in snoozy land before you can read the end of this post……Zzzzzzzz
If you are still awake, please let me know what techniques you use to de-stress. leave your comments below.