“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” ~ Chinese Proverb
Stress seems to be everywhere in our lives these days – you can’t throw a stick without hitting someone suffering from its ill effects. However, there are techniques to help you stay healthy and regain your sanity. Below are a few helpful tips to help you relax and recharge!
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet is essential for good health and improving your resistance to stress. A healthy diet consists of adequate amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, organic vegetables and fruits, good fats, dairy products and limited intake of sugar and salt. If possible, choose protein sources such as grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, eggs, or pork, and wild caught seafood. Examples of good fat sources are butter from grass-fed cows, organic olive oil, and organic coconut oil. It’s also a good idea to include plenty of foods high in B vitamins and vitamin C in your diet as these foods have been shown to help with stress relief. Some examples are eggs, nuts, lean meats, citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables.
- Get plenty of rest. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to health problems such as weight gain, lower productivity, and impair your ability to handle stressful situations. Try to get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night if possible. For a better nights rest, limit or avoid alcohol, nicotine, or exercise at least several hours before going to bed.
- Don’t forget to exercise. By exercising consistently you can reduce stress and improve your health in a variety of ways. Exercise helps strengthen your heart, lower cholesterol, and blood pressure. Choose an activity you enjoy as you are more likely to stick with it. You don’t have to go to the gym – walking, swimming, cycling, even cleaning your house can get your heart pumping! Just remember to start off slowly and check with your doctor if you have any chronic health problems to make sure exercise is safe you.
- Cut back on the caffeine. Too much caffeine may put you in overdrive – it may increase nervousness, irritability, and impair sleep or digestion. However, it is important to cut back your intake gradually as sudden withdrawal may lead to headaches, anxiety, and irritability. Go for a goal of two cups or less of caffeinated beverages daily.
- Stop smoking. Nicotine may actually cause stress rather than relaxing you. See your doctor for information on quitting.
- Decrease your alcohol intake. Although people may drink to unwind after a busy day, too much alcohol may lead to even worse levels of tension and anxiety. Try to find other ways to relax when stressed i.e. go for a walk or listen to music while relaxing.
- Socialize with other people. Social clubs and networking groups are great ways to meet new people who share your interests and goals. Examples are sports, professional, or charitable organizations. Also try taking a class doing something your enjoy.
- Stay in touch with friends and family. Maintaining a strong social network helps fight off feelings of depression, isolation, and improve your health. Having friends can help boost your morale by just being present, which in turn, may help alleviate some of the stress in your life.
- Take time for yourself every day. Just 15-20 minutes of me time twice a day may help slow down your metabolism, lower blood pressure/heart rate, and recharge your batteries. You could read, listen to music, or simply do nothing.
- Have fun at least once a week. Research has shown that people who do something they enjoy at least weekly have fewer symptoms from stress due to the pressures of work, family, and marriage than those who don’t do anything. It’s a good idea to add at least a few things you like to do to your weekly calendar.
- Stay positive. Optimistic people seem to suffer from less mental and physical stress. If you find this challenging, try focusing on your successes in life – what worked then may work for you today. Tell yourself to stay calm when faced with a stressful situation and don’t dwell on things. Smile and remember to look realistically at both the upside and downside of a situation. Things may not be as bad as you think.
Tweaking a few areas of your life may reap big benefits in helping you cope with everyday stress. You may just be able to gain back control of your life and sanity. Please leave a comment and let me know what hacks you use to manage stress in your life.