Stress in small amounts is a normal, healthy response to different situations and can motivate us to excel or complete a task at hand, such as an academic exam. However, when the body is under constant or chronic stress, it can have damaging effects on our health, relationships, work and our overall happiness.
Here are eight simple ways you can begin to manage your stress naturally:
Ensure You Are Getting Enough Sleep
Getting too little sleep can increase stress levels, and high stress can also lead to reduced sleep or poorer quality sleep. There are a number of activities you can consider to reduce your stress before tucking into bed for the night.
A good place to start is by ensuring your bedroom is a serene space, by removing any clutter or items that may trigger stress each evening before bed. Avoid the consumption of caffeine, excess sugar and excess alcohol before bed – all of which can reduce your chance of a quality sleep. Stop using electronic devices of any kind for at least one hour before sleeping, or at least turn devices onto ‘night mode’ one hour plus before bed, thereby reducing the amount of blue light (which keeps us awake). Engaging in a relaxing activity leading up to bedtime may also be of benefit, such as a reading a nice book or doing some gentle stretches. Where possible, wake up and go to sleep at the same times each day – routine can assist the body in knowing when it is time to switch off and rest.
Reduce Your Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
Many people resort to caffeine when tired and stressed as a quick “pick-me-up”, such as a cup of coffee or a handful of chocolate. However, as caffeine is a stimulant, it is more likely to increase your stress rather than assist you to relax. Where possible, aim to reduce your caffeine intake to avoid feeling further agitation. Rather than resorting to an extra cup of coffee when you are feeling stressed, try swapping it for water or herbal tea. Staying hydrated can assist your body in managing stress.
A glass or so of your favourite beer or wine on a Friday night may help you to relax and unwind, however it is important to remember that alcohol is a depressant. When consumed in large amounts, alcohol can in fact contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression, and therefore has the potential to further increase stress in the long term rather than reduce it.
Some people when under conditions of high stress will have a cigarette or increase their nicotine intake, in an attempt to feel more relaxed. Similar to the consumption of caffeine, nicotine is in fact a stimulant, and therefore is likely to make you feel more irritable rather than reduce your stress.
Include Some Exercise In Your Daily Routine
Stress causes the body to increase its production of stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. On the contrary, exercise is a fantastic activity for increasing the production of “happy chemicals” called endorphins. An increase in endorphin production triggers feelings of calm and relaxation in the body; therefore exercise can assist you in reducing your stress. Even better, where you can, opt for some exercise outdoors – exercising in fresh air helps to further relax the mind. Working out also has a positive effect on the quality of your sleep, which can in turn assist you in reducing your stress, as you feel more rested and ready to tackle your daily tasks.
Keep A Stress Diary
Each day for approximately one month, take the time at the end of each day to note down any stress you felt or stressful situations you experienced that day. By keeping a record of these details, you can allow yourself a greater understanding of the root causes of your stress, and work to figure out how these situations or feelings can be reduced or avoided entirely.
Give Mindfulness Meditation A Try
The practice of mindfulness meditation is becoming increasing popular, and for good reason too. Mindfulness meditation, or the practice of focusing the mind (meditation) on the present moment (mindfulness), has an array of benefits for the mind and body, including stress reduction. For stress in particular, mindfulness meditation may help you to become more aware of your thoughts, and reduce the need to react to them immediately. To help you get started with mindfulness meditation, we discuss some of the best mindfulness and meditation apps here.
Use A Diary Or Planner To Help You Plan Your Time
Jotting down all the things on your mind that you need to do into a diary or planner is a great starting point for reducing stress. What’s more, by dividing tasks into groups such as ‘high priority’ and ‘when time permits’, you can break down your to-do list into manageable chunks and plan to do them over time. Be sure to schedule in downtime for yourself too, to ensure you feel at your best and ready to take on your necessary tasks when the time comes to complete them.
Talk To Someone
Talking to a friend, family member or even a colleague about how you are feeling can be a great place to start when you are experiencing ongoing stress. However, it is important to go a step further and reach out for professional help. Contact Brain Wellness Spa today, for professional help from our team in order to reduce your stress and get you back to feeling yourself.