How Do You Deal With Stress?
Feeling stressed is NORMAL and unless you’re the Dalai Lama, you probably experience daily stress. What’s important to know is there are 2 types of stress: acute stress (temporary – i.e. losing your keys) vs. chronic stress (constant – i.e. your work environment). Chronic stress can sabotage all the hard work you put into being healthy, so it’s important to recognize if you are chronically stressed so you can make changes!
Stress Effects On The Body:
– Negatively affects digestion
– Depletes our body of nutrients
– Weakens the immune system
– Raises our blood pressure/heart rate
– Affects our mood
– Alters our ability to think clearly
– Causes inflammation in the gut which is the root of many chronic diseases
– Triggers emotional eating
Here Are 5 Steps To Protect Yourself From Stress:
1. Journal: Journaling allows you to sort out and clarify your thoughts and emotions. It creates a space for you to express difficult emotions, such as anger and frustration. It is a great way to release any negative thoughts so that you can move on to a happier state of mind. To make journaling a part of your daily routine, dedicate a set time to write (generally morning or evening works best). Set a timer for just 5-10 minutes and set your phone facing down so there are no distractions. The short time makes it possible for you to to do it daily!
2. Learn to Reframe Anxious Thoughts: Reframing negative thoughts to be neutral or positive will help you feel less stressed. One of my favorite lessons from Danielle Laporte is that we can not always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we feel about it. You hold the power to look at things in a new light. You can change your outlook at any time in service of how you truly want to feel. Catch any thought that begins with a “what if” and stop right there as you are creating hypothetical problems.
3. Strive To Consistently Get 6-8 Hours Of Sleep: If you don’t get enough sleep, your ability to manage stress is compromised. Even slight sleep deprivation can cause poor judgment and trigger a bad mood. If you struggle to get quality sleep, practice following these tips: sleep in a dark cool room, stop looking at ‘screens’ 30 minutes before bed, go to sleep at the same time each night, and experiment with lavender essential oil or an epsom salt bath before bed to relax.
4. Exercise At Least 4x A Week: Exercise is medicine for your mind, body and spirit. A healthy body + mind will nourish your spirit and elevate your wellbeing. You should be moving your body at least 4x a week – especially if you have a sedentary job. That doesn’t mean you have to spend an hour at the gym. Exercising can be as simple as a yoga class, cleaning and dancing around your house or taking a long walk outside. Make working out fun by finding an activity you love or doing it with a friend.
5. Eat A Clean Diet And Stay Hydrated: Stress and nutrition have always been linked. A person with a balanced diet is far less likely to become stressed than someone with an unhealthy diet. Include foods rich in B vitamins (grains, beans, avocados) and C vitamins (citrus fruits, kiwi, and bell peppers) in your daily diet. Stress dehydrates the body and dehydration creates stress (not a fun cycle to be in). Our body is mainly made of water so staying hydrated is very important to function properly. If you’re feeling stressed out, don’t go for the unhealthy comfort food as it will make things worse.
Choose two of these strategies to practice each week. Schedule out 4 days of exercise in your calendar or keep a post it note in your car that reminds you to reframe anxious thoughts. Do what you need to do to reduce stress in your life as it will majorly impact your well-being!