Maintaining a regular sleep routine helps to calm and restore the body, improve concentration, regulate mood and sharpen our judgement and decision-making. Whereas, lack of sleep makes us more emotionally reactive, impulsive and responsive to negative stimuli.
Our bodies need time to recharge, reset and replenish. If you’re unable to get the recommended 7-9 hours per night, consider scheduling in power naps to reduce the additional stress put on the body.
The body is both mentally and physically more equipped to handle stress when well-rested. Make it a priority.
A healthy diet can help counteract stress by reinforcing our immune system, lowering blood pressure and stabilising our moods. Healthy food options offer calming properties by simultaneously nourishing our bodies and offsetting the effects of stress.
Vitamin C, complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits and vegetables), magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids are all essential nutrients for stress reduction. Herbal supplements and teas including chamomile, mint, passionflower and barley tea, are commonly used for their calming effects. They’ve also been linked to reducing stress-related insomnia, anxiety and anger. Sweet treats are still very much available, with dark chocolate (70+%) being the number one choice because it is rich in antioxidants and has been shown to actively reduce stress. Also, be mindful of portion sizes here, dark chocolate is a high-calorie snack.
Take the stress out of having to stress-manage your diet by maintaining a meal schedule, staying hydrated and removing temptations. It starts with what we put in our shopping baskets, as we can only eat what’s available to us.
Manage Screen Time
Whilst watching TV, spending time on the internet or playing video games can seem relaxing, these seemingly harmless activities can contribute to increased long-term stress.
Long periods of sedentary time spent looking at screens puts additional stress on our bodies and can cause eye strain and fatigue, as well as muscle and joint pain. It’s also associated with numerous psychological conditions including anxiety, depression and loneliness.
Start your morning proactively by extending the time between waking and getting online. Consider establishing a routine that you complete before opening social media or email to get into a positive mindset before launching into the day.
Utilising app limits and ‘do not disturb’, removing notifications and re-arranging your home screens can also help manage your screen time. Alternatively, turn off your TV and mobiles at night and opt for more engaging habits with friends and family, like playing cards, board games or a fun challenge in Jenga. I find playing some music in the background and playing charades never disappoints.
Time is your friend
Modern culture is obsessed with productivity and the idea that the longer we devote to tasks, the more we’ll get done. The truth is that more time does not necessarily equal higher productivity; especially when we’re already overloaded with other work and personal demands.
It’s a sure-fire recipe for stress, but one that can be remedied by taking regular breaks. Easing off the forced productivity train will not only reduce your stress levels but increase your efficiency. Breaks can be as long or as short as you like; it depends entirely on what you’re willing to schedule in.
Whether it be limiting your inbox time, designating one or two “meeting only” days, having a power nap, going for a walk around the block or doing some form of mindfulness, take a break. Time is your friend; work together to maximise your outcomes and health. After all, the happier we are, the more productive we are.
There you have it. Seven easy ways to manage and reduce stress.
Now is the time to action these changes.
Treat managing stress as a series of ongoing lifestyle habits versus an instant fix, and you’ll see huge improvements to your mental and physical wellbeing. All it takes is an open mind and a willingness to adjust to new behaviours. You’ve got this!