Stress...a word we hear all of the time, but one we never truly talk about. In the world we live in today, how can we not help but feel stressed every now and then? Inflation...safety of our kids...bills...work...health. Stress...stress...and more stress. Stress will eventually affect our health, but why is it so bad for us? Our adrenaline is heightened during stressful events therefore causing an increase in blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. During a stressful event, our bodies also produce an elevated level of cortisol. Over a long period of time, an increased level of cortisol can lead to physical problems such as panic attacks, fatigue, sleep issues, headaches, and heartburn to name a few. Don't think you are stressed? If you have one or multiple of these symptoms, you are most likely experiencing some amount of stress in your life...difficulty falling asleep, feeling tired most of the day, feeling emotional, increased blood sugar(stores more body fat), getting sick frequently, increased inflammation, learning and memory issues??? Don't be completely discouraged! Even with all of the demands that life throws upon us, there are many ways to try to live as stress free as possible.
Eat a Balance Diet:
Eating healthy provides our body with nutrients that we need to live a long life. Eating a balanced number of proteins, carbs(yes, I said carbs!), and fats is essential in helping our bodies to feel good. When you feel good about yourself, you are less likely to worry and stress out about how you are feeling.
2. Decrease Phone Use and Screen Time:
We are inundated with so much information nowadays. And we are constantly on our phones seeking the information. Our brains can't possibly store and process all of the information that is coming at us all at once, all of the time. Being overloaded with information causes us to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and therefore, stressed. Try putting your phone down and go outside for a brisk walk in nature. Turn off the TV and sit down with your family for dinner and have an actual face-to-face conversation. Remember, we can only control what is in our small "bubble", so stressing out about things that are out of our control only makes life harder! It's hard enough already, so I challenge you to try limiting your screen time and doing something that makes you happy instead. Your brain and body will thank you for it!
3. Practice Self-Care:
This can include, but is not limited to:
-going for a walk -eating healthy -laughing!
-taking a bubble bath -stretching in the morning, or before going to bed
-lighting candles -getting a massage
-reading a good book -practicing yoga
-exercising -listening to your favorite music
Journaling gets your thoughts out of your head and down on paper. Writing your thoughts down can be very calming and therapeutic. Try keeping a journal at the side of your bed. Every night before you go to bed, spend a few minutes writing down your day, or things that stressed you out that day. You can also jot down things you want to do tomorrow or your worries and fears about the future. Doing this may help you to sleep better because all of these thoughts are no longer jumbled around in your brain. Find comfort in knowing that your thoughts and ideas are written down and will be ready for you when you need them.
4. Reduce Caffeine Intake:
Caffeing stimulates the central nervous system. Consuming too much caffeine can increase heart rate and therefore, our anxiety and stress levels. The recommended dose of caffeine each day for a healthy individual is no more than 400mg. If you are feeling anxious or stressed, you should significantly reduce that amount.
6. Learn to Say NO:
When you become overcommitted and have limited time, your stress levels increase and you may begin to feel rundown and tired. Remember to take care of yourself by only saying yes to things that you really enjoy doing. Fulfill your life with the things that you really want and that make you happy!
7. Spend Time With Family and Friends:
Having family and friends you can confide in may help to reduce your stress. When you are able to talk through problems together and discuss how you are feeling, you are less likely to feel anxious and stressed. When we feel loved, understood, and accepted, it puts our mental health in a good place and also helps reduce our stress levels. Next time you are feeling down, try calling a good friend, or go visit a loved one and just talk..about anything. Ask for a hug...let out a deep breath...and let go.
Meditation restores your body to a calm state, helping the body to repair itself and preventing new damage from the physical affects of stress. It gives you a feeling of peace. Try it...
-find a place that is calm and quiet
-set a time limit (20 minutes)
-close your eyes and notice your body
-feel and listen to your breath
-focus on your breath
-notice when your mind wanders
-be kind to your wandering mind
-close with kindness(to yourself)
Trying to incorporate these 8 ideas is a sure way to help lead you to less stress in your life. Still unsure? I would love to help! Check out my website at www.nikkibrooksfitness.com and learn about the ways I can help lead you to a healthy,less stressful life!