Stress, as we all know, is extremely bad for our health. I can easily become stressed when I clutter my schedule unnecessarily and overwhelm myself with the crazy that is this world. I like order, certainty and structure (perhaps there’s a slight chance I have OCD?). But, this is impossible to attain all the time what with life’s delightful curve-balls and general downfalls that make us all human. I have been working on managing my stress levels, not only because I become anxious when overwhelmed, but also for a number of other reasons:
- stress slows down healing and recovery
- it causes your body to hold onto unwanted fat
- stress decreases your sex drive
- it causes gut issues
For more in depth information regarding the effects of stress on your body, check out mindbodygreen’s post about how toxic it is.
We all have different coping mechanisms, different schedules and different preferences when it comes to dealing with stress but here are some strategies I have been using to lead a calmer less frantic lifestyle.
1. I switch off all devices 30 minutes before sleep
In order to get to a fully relaxed state for sleep, I have found that my phone and laptop needs to be on silent/off and out of my bedroom at least 30 minutes before I lay my head down and go to lala land. I leave my phone on a table just outside my room so that I can still here the morning alarm. This has really helped me to fall asleep more easily as well as more deeply during optimal sleep time.
2. I make time for stillness and reflection
I really look forward to this time, it gives me breathing room and a space of calm and quiet before the mad rush of the day. My morning quiet time is the second thing I do after waking up, the first is downing a glass of water. This 20-30 minute time of stillness allows me to be introspective and equips me to take on the day.
3. I avoid a cluttered schedule
Because I am a busy body and love to say yes to everything, I have to intentionally say no to some things. Things that create a cluttered and unnecessarily busy schedule. If it’s not benefiting me or a person I care for, it shouldn’t be filling up my day. Less is sometimes more.
4. I exercise regularly
This is something you have undoubtedly heard over and over. But it is so true that exercise reduces stress. It releases endorphins that put you in a good mood, it releases tension and boosts your confidence! I make sure to get in at least 4 workouts a week – if fitness is a priority in your life, you’ll make it work.
5. I eat a balanced real-food diet
Eating food that is good for my body makes me feel good about myself, gives me enough energy for the whole day and keeps my immune system functioning properly. If one of those things are out, my day always feels less efficient and more stressful.
6. I avoid too much caffeine
At one point I was drinking up to 3 cups of coffee a day. I know, right? I’m such an addict. Some of you might be chuckling because that’s your standard amount before lunch time. But for me, it was enough to have a crazy dependency on caffeine. Heaven forbid I had only 2 cups that day or had a cup an hour later than normal, which would leave me with a banging headache. Cutting out coffee to get rid of my dependency on it, decreased my stress levels notably. There’s stacks of information out there about caffeine and how it relates to stress (Mr. Google has it going on). I now drink coffee intermittently (and saving a little extra cash) so as to avoid developing a dependency again.
7. I schedule in me-time
Oh how I love me-time. For so long I felt guilty allocating a portion of time for myself, feeling like I should rather be catching up with someone, or running this errand or finishing that project. I started slotting in a couple hours a week to do the things that really make me feel relaxed or pampered. This is guilt-free time. Intentional time where I have the excuse to just do what I want. Today was that day for me *cliche alert* – I got my nails done while listening to a podcast! Other cliche me-time activities that I like: lying on my sofa and reading a good book with some tea, getting a foot massage, going to my favorite coffee shop with a book/magazine as my only company…there’s a few more but I won’t bore you.
If you’re feeling like your life is a little manic, leaving you feeling weathered by the end of the day or work week, I encourage you to reflect and find ways to slow down and de-stress. You owe this to yourself!