Updated: Apr 14, 2020
Stress… we have all suffered from it in one way or another, what with our hectic family lives, jobs with overflowing paperwork, and emotional problems its a recipe for disaster.
Stress is a compound of thoughts from events and issues that have either happened in the past or may present in the future. We replay our thoughts over and over again, increasing worry and anxiety, eventually letting it interfere with our health, sleep, and daily tasks.
During a stress response cortisol, our stress hormone is released from our adrenal gland. If this grows our blood pressure rises, sugar levels increase, eventually causing a lowered immune system and inflammation of the body. Stress can also cause us to crave more fatty foods causing weight gain and further health problems down the line.
The big question is what can we do to help?
Here are 6 ways I have found helpful over the years and still use today (tried and tested of course!).
Yes, yes i know this is easier said than done, this is coming from someone who has suffered from insomnia for many years. However by working through each of these options I am now getting at least seven hours sleep a night.
Exercising in the morning or afternoon not only will help you feel tired enough to sleep, but will stop that adrenaline feeling just before you jump into bed. Although there is lots of research with varying opinions, I found that vigorous activity affected my sleep over weight training…. So if you only are able to exercise at night, no problem just try not to make it too energetic.
I found creating a routine, since having my baby works a treat. Ensuring I'm up by 7am and in bed by 930-10pm allows my body to release its pattern of awake and sleep, routines aren't just for babies you know!
This is a great option, you can make it as cheap or expensive as you like. By picking a scent that doesn't make you squeeze your eyes shut and sneeze, you can help your body relax into a state of calm. Try an air diffuser for an expensive treat at home or roll ons for everywhere you go, either work a treat!
Who has their own colouring book out there? I have 6 for emergency use and they are great use to get my creative thoughts flowing, and distraction from the chaos around me. You can use a colouring book or get involved in a hobbie, either in expressive writing, arts and crafts, card making (my mother's favorite) or crochet/knitting. Whatever works for you can help you lose yourself in the task,cause a release of those happy hormones you have been longing for, and maybe even understand those emotions you can't yet understand.
MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS
This is something I found hard to do, but it takes practice and I'm still getting the hang of it. This is about learning to let go, dropping those negative emotions at the door, allowing your body to go into a state of relaxation and in the now. You will need to have patience, and a time that suits you. For me when I go to bed I switch on my meditation, with a background noise of beach waves and before I know it, it's morning.
Honestly it's amazing how much effect it's had on my sleep!
SOCIALISING AND DISTRACTION
By connecting with family and friends you can change your focus, clear your mind and strengthen your relationships. Positive relationships can decrease stress and create healthy coping techniques, as you are often able to talk over your issues with friends and family. By adding positive activities such as walking or lunches, your overall health can improve. Research has shown that those with strong social connections have lower stress levels, anxiety or depression and decreased inflammatory responses within our body.
EXERCISE AND DIET
The big one! Did you really think I wasn't going to bring this up? Don't stop reading now, I promise you will be interested.
Ever been on a run or done a workout session, and realised you have not stressed in over an hour, your thoughts are more rational, and you feel ready to tackle whatever the world throws at you? New research has shown that exercise changes your brain out look, creating positivity through the endorphin release, increasing problem solving, recall and allowing a deeper sense of calm.
Diet also affects stress, high sugar and carbohydrate diets can cause levels of stress to rise from fast fluctuating blood sugar levels. So fill up on healthy foods rather than those refined snacks you will find in the vending machine, and you may find you feel different on those stressful tasks.
That 3pm coffee we are all guilty of….. it often heightens my energy levels resulting in less opportunity to relax. Problem solver? try decaf (don't worry there's still some caffeine in it) or even herbal tea.
Have a go at any of these, trust me you have nothing to lose. By achieving this you will be able to rationalize your thoughts, insight to how to solve your problems and improve your overall health.