This blog was originally written by me and published on OWYN stories. Learn more about OWYN’s 100% plant-based awesome nutrition products today.
Stress: it’s now linked heart disease and high blood pressure. unfortunately, we seem to be stressed now more than ever.
Stress can cause minor imbalances in our body such as headaches, fatigue, and muscle spasms. But it can also cause mental brain fog, and in severe cases; heart attacks. Yikes.
We all experience stress on some level and to a certain degree; some stress is actually good for us. It helps motivate us to get stuff done and keeps us sharp and focused.
We certainly can’t prevent all stress in our lives but we can control the way we manage it. Below are ten helpful ways to help you harness and deal with the stress in your life right now.
1. Get into the habit of not checking your phone within the first hour of waking up
This one may seem insignificant, but taking the time for your brain to focus on your day without the chatter and noise from the outside world is so important. It helps to set a tone for the rest of the day and allows you to focus instead of just pulling you in. Make it a habit to not check your phone for at least the first thirty minutes upon waking up. Setting intentions for the day, taking a few minutes to stretch and breathe without any outside distractions is really important. You want to make sure you take control of your day, not vise versa, even if that means waking up earlier to have the time. Manage the day or the day will manage you.
2. Develop a nightly routine you can stick to. having a consistent nightly routine will ensure two things:
a) Regularity in your schedule
b) Regularity in your body
Both of these things will not only allow you to plan your days better, (if you know when you’re turning your phone to silent and getting into bed you know how many hours you have to work, eat, etc) but it also allows your body to acclimate to a schedule which will result in better quality of sleep. The better sleep we have, the less cortisol present in the body.
3. Have a physical outlet
Movement is so important when it comes to managing stress effectively. It doesn’t need to be a hardcore regimented workout schedule. If you hate going to the gym, don’t go, but making sure you are making movement a part of your daily routine will significantly alter the way you manage stress. Those natural endorphins people talk about are a real thing and very powerful. Whether it be going for a walk, run, weight training workout or dancing around your apartment like a wild man or woman to your favorite 80’s hair band, making movement apart of your day, especially when you’re feeling stressed can help change your mood and body chemistry significantly.
Some stress is actually good for us. It helps motivate us to get stuff done and keeps us sharp and focused.
4. Limit sugars and processed foods
Fake food and sugar can literally put our bodies into a tailspin in combination with high levels of stress. When we eat better, we feel better. There’s no denying that. If you know you have a stressful week coming up or if you are feeling more stressed than usual, do yourself (and your body) a favor and try your best to eat real, natural foods as well as drinking at least 2 liters of water a day.
You want to put your body at an advantage to physically be able to balance high stressful situations most effectively and the only way we can do that is by properly fueling our brains and body.
Our immune system dips when we are highly stressed as well and if we throw poor nutrition on top of that, we put ourselves at more of a risk for getting sick. Make sure you take the time to plan ahead and prioritize meals.
5. Invest in a pair of blue light blocker glasses
It may seem insignificant but the more plugged in we are, the more blue light exposure we are getting in a day which is undeniably causing more sleep issues at night. When shopping for blue light blocking glasses, make sure you are choosing ones with orange frames, as they are the most effective for fully blocking blue light.
6. Try meditation
You’ve heard of it - maybe you’ve tried it, maybe you haven’t. Being someone who has reaped the benefits of meditation, I can confidently say that it really is a game changer when installed into your everyday life.
I know a lot of people try it and either feel like they aren’t doing it right or don’t understand it, so they give up.
Here’s the thing about meditation: you can’t fail if you simply close your eyes and try it. The secret sauce is in simply closing your eyes and becoming present to where you are at NOW. The point is to distract your mind (sometimes by repeating a mantra) and bring you to a certain level of awareness you might have been overlooking before. When we become more present, even if it’s for 5 minutes, our stress levels naturally decrease; our heart rates drop and our brains create new connections that might not have been there otherwise. It’s a game changer and luckily there are no right or wrong ways to do it. If you’re curious about it, downloading an app such as Simple Habit and trying a guided meditation might be a great place to start.
7. Try journaling
One way to distress is by cultivating gratitude. Journaling is a fantastic way to get your emotions out on paper and, call me old school, but there is something special, maybe a bit romantic to pen to paper writing. Journaling can be used to express your emotions and organize your thoughts. Even if it’s writing a paragraph a day of what you feel grateful for, it can go a very long way.
8. Make it a point to have you time, every day (even if it’s for 10-15 minutes)
Making sure you take the time to focus on you is imperative in managing stress. We can all too often get caught up in taking care of everyone else but ourselves, especially if you’re a parent. Block off a bit of time, even if it means waking up earlier to have just you time where you can do something just for yourself. Whether that means going to get a manicure, taking a hot bath, going to a baseball game with a friend, whatever it is. Making sure you include things you genuinely enjoy doing will help keep you feeling happy, content and overall less stressed. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
9. Do something selfless
When we have a purpose, it makes our lives more purposeful. It also elevates our mood and literally gives us a sense of purpose, which in turn decreases our anxiety and stress. When we do well for others, we just feel good. Think back to a time when you helped a family member, friend or co-worker who was down and out and think about how you felt afterward. It’s not a coincidence that as humans when we feel like we are serving a higher purpose by helping others when in need and it can certainly take us out of our own heads and help shift perspective on the world around us as well as ourselves.
10. Make a list of things you need to do the night before a big/stressful day
This one might be pretty obvious but actually seeing on paper what you need to do the day before a big event or day can help you organize your thoughts effectively. You’ll feel more in control as a result. When we’re stressed, it’s important we minimize the amount of decision making to save space for other important, larger decisions that require our attention. Decision-making is what distracts and drains us. When we‘re stressed, even the everyday small tasks can seem daunting and exhausting. Making a list and writing things down can go a very long way.