Muscle pain, problems with your sleep, appetite, concentration, sensitivity, feeling increasingly nervous or even developing heart problems and depression… Stress can have a multitude of serious long-term consequences on our health. However, implementing a more relaxing routine can help you feel calmer because good (and bad) habits stick, even when times are tough.
But first thing’s first, make sure you’re getting enough sleep because, without it, it’s impossible to function properly during the day. The next thing you should do is start making time just for you when you can relax. After a while, you will feel more energised and calm and you will have more motivation to implement further changes into the rest of your life so that you finally have a better, healthier lifestyle.
Follow an adapted diet
In times of stress, we tend to fall back on comfort eating and over-indulging for the sake of passing time. It's important to recognise what these food triggers are in order to appropriately handle them and make sure that we stay on course with our diet. We suggest lifestyle application Noom to help do so. Not only will it help you create and follow your adapted diet based on your profile, but they also provide coaches that can help give you the important advice to better help you establish and achieve your goals.
Food is our body’s fuel and that’s why you should always try to go for fresh fruits and vegetables whenever you can since they are rich in nutrients, as well as vegetable proteins rather than animal proteins since they rebalance your body’s acid levels. Foods which contain lots of magnesium (whole grains, dark chocolate) are also essential for promoting nerve impulse transmission in the brain.
Sometimes, vitamin or mineral deficiencies can cause you to lose your appetite. If you feel really stressed, consider talking to your doctor who could give you magnesium, vitamin B6, omega 3 or even vitamin D supplements. Aromatherapy (ravintsara, lavender or petitgrain essential oils) or calming tea infusions (lemon balm, passionflower, chamomile) can also be effective.
Get some exercise
Sport and exercise are the ultimate anti-stress activities. As it turns out, when we exercise, our body releases endorphins which are hormones that generate feelings of happiness and well-being. This natural drug has anxiolytic, analgesic and anti-fatigue qualities. So it’s about time you created an exercise regime to incorporate into your stressful daily life.
We suggested Noom above to keep you on track towards your dietary goal, but it also has a comprehensive activity tracker that you can use to track your progress and determine what you need to do to maintain or even go to the next level. Interested? Click here for a 2-week free trial!
Why not put on your sports clothes and do a little yoga, weight training or some other kind of exercise in your living room? It’s always preferable to choose something you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like too much of a chore. At first, you don’t have to do too much either. Just try to get a little sweat going. But the most important thing is that this time is just for you as well, so turn off your phone and put aside your emails for a while.
Why not start these good habits in the morning so you start the day right? To do this, give yourself five minutes when you get up. You could stretch out, read a chapter of a book or even just enjoy a nice coffee in the sun. The idea is to focus exclusively on the task at hand task and take advantage of being in the present.
To take it a step further, why not try mindful breathing? Try to relax both your body and mind by sitting with your back straight, eyes closed and take deep, gentle breaths in and out through your nose while trying to avoid holding the air in your lungs for too long. Focus on how your body and the world around you feels. This is the first step and may even push you to try meditation, which is also a really useful technique for de-stressing.
Test your cardiac coherence
As you may be aware, breathing is the key to managing your anxiety. Cardiac coherence is a physiological technique that allows you to accelerate or slow down your heart rate. To do this, you need to find a rhythm of 6 breaths per minute, counting 5 seconds when you inhale and 5 seconds when you exhale. To maintain this pace, you could either use a stopwatch or another app on your phone.
You don’t need much time to do this, yet it has several benefits. By devoting just 5 minutes to this practice in the morning, afternoon and evening - just like with your other muscles - you could increase your stress threshold considerably. It is useful for when you feel anxious, but also when everything is fine as well. It all helps to regulate your autonomous nervous system and your body's auto-pilot mode.
Try to avoid
- Stimulants: Such as tobacco, alcohol and coffee which stimulate the body and make you feel tired quicker;
- Constant computer use: Make sure to take frequent breaks from your computer throughout the day, especially if you work from home;
- Being overly informed: The news can be a source of a lot of anxiety for some people, so sometimes it’s better to just watch the daily news program instead of constantly having the news channels on in the background.