Stress invades all of our lives in one way or another, and is almost impossible to get rid of completely. Good news though? There are many ways to manage stress, accept it, and counterbalance it with healthy habits in order to keep stress in check.
Stress often comes from a combination of factors including high work expectations, limited sleep and exercise, excessive anxiety and a face paced lifestyle that demands incredible amounts of energy. Stress and anxiety means your body is operating at a heightened pace, producing execess levels of stress hormones and muscles tension which can cause migraines, hunger, digestive issues, panic attacks and cardiac stress.
Reduce stress by ensuring your body has its most basic needs met to the best of your ability which includes adequate rest, water, nutrition and activity. Take a step back and look at these elements in your life to see where you need change: what you need to add in, and what you need to take away. Follow these tips below to reduce stress:
If your diet consists of processed, packaged food or take out meals – adding in fresh, nutrient dense food can help your body feel strong and operate to the best of its ability. Being deficient in important nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, fiber or vitamins adds an unconscious level of stress to our bodies. As a results our bodies crave foods under stress, potentially because it is not getting adequate amounts of nutrients. These cravings under stress can then create emotional eating, stress eating and weight gain. If you live a stressful lifestyle, prep meals ahead of time to eat healthy during the week on a busy schedule.
If you average only 5 hours of sleep a night, look at your schedule to see what you can do to increase this to 7 and make sleep a priority. Often this includes making it a priority to get into bed earlier, and not spend an extra 30 minutes on social media before falling asleep. If you struggle to fall asleep at night, consider getting a white noise machine, drinking a cup of camomile tea before bed or getting some essential oils for your room diffuser that promote sleep.
Stress like any other emotion needs a healthy outlet in order to effectively be released. When your body undergoes stress or anxiety, the nervous system activates the tense fight or flight reaction. With no healthy outlet for that to be released, our bodies absorb and repress those stressful feelings that then can effect us internally through headaches or digestive issues. Having exercise as a part of your lifestyle provides a healthy outlet for stress and tension. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy and add it into your week!
Dehydration is rampant in our world, and under stress we tend to drink extra caffeine which then dehydrates our body even more. Make sure you are drinking 3-4L of water a day, and more if you live somewhere crazy hot like I do here in Texas in the summer. Buy a liter water bottle and then refill it throughout the day for an easy way to keep track of how much you are drinking.
We all need joy, positive relationships, and meaningful connections in our life. Oftentimes when stressed, people’s immediate reaction is to cancel plans, skip out on dinners, tell friends you cannot make brunch and isolate themselves. Often, doing this only makes stress worse. Sometimes when facing high levels of anxiety or stress what we truly need is time with people we care about to relax, laugh, have fun and find some relief from stress. Connecting with others can provide relief from stress. Make an effort to maintain friendships and relationships during stressful times and counterbalance stress with joy, meaning and relationship.
Stress and anxiety often create overwhelming thoughts that ruminate in our minds pertaining to the future, the past, or a mile long to-do list. Working to stay mindfully in the present moment and connect to the sensations of your body can help avoid high levels of anxiety.
Do you ever experience that flood of thoughts in your mind that just do not seem to stop? That type of overwhelming stress thinking just serves to create more anxiety. When the overwhelming emotions and thoughts creep up, I like to use guided meditation to stay present in the moment. A guided meditation helps to calm the mind, and create space to recognize your thoughts and emotions and make peace with them. By allowing our thoughts to be there without feeling the need to avoid or control them, we accept the full range of the human experience and find a calmness in the present moment.
Here are some great 5 minute guided meditations you can do anywhere to take a little mental reset:
Stress is a normal part of life, but it does not need to affect your daily functioning or your health. Use these tips to counterbalance stress in your life and create a mindful balance for a healthy life!