Life is full of challenges and we all get stressed from time to time. The moment you start doing little things to reduce stress you will feel the benefits almost instantly.
One of most common issues I help people address at work is how stressful life can be. We’re pulled in a lot of different directions as we balance the demands of life. The thing is, our bodies are designed to cope with short-term stress, but if it continues for weeks and months, it can cause physical, mental and emotional problems.
Long-term effects of stress:
- Long-term high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, depresses the immune system, so we’re more susceptible to getting sick.
- Energy levels and moods are affected by fluctuating blood sugar levels.
- Stress increases levels of cholesterol in the blood.
- The digestive system becomes strained and has trouble absorbing the nutrients in our food.
- Cortisol is linked to weight gain.
- We don’t sleep well or get enough hours of sleep so our bodies never have time to recharge.
- Stress affects hormones which can cause mood swings, anxiety and depression.
Of course, we need to look at the sources of our stress, but this may involve life changes that don’t happen overnight.
There are little things you can do and changes you can make that work almost instantly:
Promote restful sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep makes everything look better the next day and it’s essential for regulating hormones, balancing mood, and improving energy levels.
Reduce caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and produces many of the same effects on the body as stress hormones. Limit yourself to one or two cups of coffee a day and avoid caffeine in the evenings.
Don’t expect yourself to keep your regular routine. Temporarily let some thing(s) go or do less of. When life is unusually busy you’re probably adding to your to-do list so to keep the list doable take a few things off your list temporarily.
Keep the status quo. Don’t use a busy time in life to make big changes. If life is busy it might not be the best time to make big dietary changes, change jobs, start a new workout or start training for your first marathon.
Don’t should yourself. The things that HAVE to be done will be done. Don’t worry about the rest and don’t constantly remind your self what you SHOULD have done or SHOULD be doing.
Just breathe. It really is as simple as it sounds. As few as three deep breaths can help deactivate the physical symptoms of stress.
Try this: Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor, shoulders relaxed, and eyes closed. Inhale through your nose to the count of 4 or 5, pause briefly at the top, then exhale to the same count. Repeat this pattern of breathing 3 times.
Remember the crazy busyness is temporary. Often the things that are making life so busy are temporary. Keep reminding yourself this isn’t going to last forever. Take care of yourself physically and mentally and you can get through this, not miss a moment of the joy in it all and, in the end, look back and smile.
Take advantage of car time. Listen to a podcast, audio book or relaxing music. Or, drive in silence and with your thoughts. It may be the only time during your day you can do this.
Make time to exercise. It might sound counterintuitive, but finding as little as 25 minutes to move your body will give you mental and physical benefits strength training and cardio workouts that makes it well worth the time. And, it just feels good!
Here’s 5 Total Body Workouts you can do in 30 minutes or less.
Aromatherapy in the shower. Drop about 10 drops of your favorite relaxing essential oils (lavender, chamomile or ylang ylang) on a sponge or washcloth then place it in the shower where the water can reach it but, not directly hit it. The combination of water and steam will create an aromatherapy experience while you shower.
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I would love to chat.
What would you add to the list? Do you ever drive in silence? What’s your favorite essential oil to relax?
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