Let’s set the scene for when the universe gives you a reason to decrease your stress.
Its 4.00 am Sunday morning and you are awake, even the birds aren’t stupid enough to be up and on with their day. Right bring it on, no point in stewing, may as well get shit done.
The universe, however, has other plans for you and the whole day turns into one hot mess tornado with you flailing around its periphery. It would be so easy on these days to let the stress take hold and swallow you whole with you ranting and screaming, all the way down to the bottom of the achieve-nothing-but-total-overwhelm-and-self-pity well.
The truth is that it is important to acknowledge stress so you can reach into your tool bag for the right tools to help you reduce it or at least cope with it a little better.
You may not have the ability to change the stressors in your life, but if you can manage the impact on your body, you’ll stay healthier and more able to cope with future stress.
Effects of Stress On The Body
I’m the first person to pretend that stress is no big deal, so if you’re like me, then the two of us need to have a “Come to Buddha” moment and get real about how stress IS affecting our bodies….
- Increases cortisol production which can be associated with weight gain (especially in the belly), an inability to lose weight or gain muscle and premature ageing
- Decreases nutrient absorption due to decreased enzymatic production from the stomach, pancreas and liver and decreased bile flow from the gallbladder
- Increases nutrient excretion such as urinary loss of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, chromium, selenium and microminerals
- Decreases gut flora populations by destroying healthy intestinal bacteria and can lead to immune problems, skin disorders, nutrient deficiencies, and digestive distress
- Increases salt retention which can lead to high blood pressure
- Decreases the thyroid hormone which can negatively affect your metabolism
- Stress decreases sex hormones which lead to loss of libido and low energy
You’re not here to know about all the problems associated with stress though, you’re here because you want a solution.
How can I cope better with stress?
Remember, since we can’t always control the stresses in our lives, the goal is to reduce its effects. Even the littlest reduction is so worth it for you and your body.
Here’s how you can decrease your stress NOW
1. Eat A Healthy Diet
If your nutritional needs are met your body is better able to cope in times of stress. Avoid too much caffeine and sugar, these provide a temporary boost but the resulting crash can crush your mood and interrupt your sleep patterns.
2. Manage Your Time Better And Practice Good Organisation
There is more room to breathe and be relaxed if you know exactly what you should be doing and when Is there one item on your to-do list that you can delegate to someone? Example: One of my daughters folds the washing up every day. If I so much as look in the washing’s direction she gets mad as a cut snake. She considers it her job and the one thing she knows she can do to help. The fact that I don’t have to worry about the washing being folded at all is liberating.
3. Where Can You Fit In 20 Minutes For Yourself Today
Take time to relax and be mindful
4. Get Moving
Exercise is one of the best stress relievers. 30 minutes a day is best but build up to it. Even a 10-minute walk will do wonders for your state of mind.
Before your next meal, try what I call the “5-5-7” breath. Inhale for a count of 5, hold your breath for a count of 5, then exhale for a count of 7. Repeat at least 3 times. This gives your body a chance to relax before your meal, which will increase your digestive capacity and help your body pull more nutrients from the food you’re eating.
6. Avoid Being Around People Who Stress You Out
You don’t need these people in your life.
7. Reframe Problems And Stressful Situations
Instead of fuming about a traffic jam value the time to sit and be mindful.
8. Stand Back
Look at the big picture. Will this be important in a day, month, or year? If not move onto something else.
9. Learn To Be O.K. With Good Enough
Perfectionism is a major cause of stress for many. Take the path of least resistance.
10. Practice Gratitude.
Taking a moment to be thankful for all the good things in life is a great way to rewire the brain to release stress easily
11. Focus On What You Can Control
And learn to accept the things you can’t. They are not worth any of your precious time being spent on them.
12. Keep Balance In Your Life
All work and no play besides making you dull are not good for your stress. Give yourself time to switch off and try to have a laugh. Laughter release endorphins which are like taking a happy pill. You will come back refreshed and clear-minded.
Remember the saying a “problem shared is a problem halved”? Sharing with friends can often reduce the problem you are so close to and will help to alleviate stress. So, make time to connect with others. If you don’t have friends close to you join a Meet Up group of like-minded women.
So, you now have a bag of tools you can reach into and use to build your ladder to freedom from the constraints of stress. Each of these items if practised regularly will have you feeling as laid back as a cat in the warm winter sun.
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