The clock hits 5am, and your alarm beeps. You immediately wake up and check your phone and read the flood of messages that you missed while you were sleeping. Business emails, newsletters, junk mail; you scroll through all of it expertly checking to see if there was anything important sent to you.
This is only the beginning of your busy day that is jam-packed with work, meetings, activities, and whatever other commitments you’ve made to people in your life. This situation is all too familiar. We all go through some version of this whether we are students, parents, or business professionals. This kind of stress isn’t good for your mental or physical health, but it’s understandable that you can’t always just change your lifestyle completely.
It’s important for people to weave in methods of dealing with their everyday stress in a consistent and easy-to-implement manner. Dealing with your stress is the only way to find true peace and happiness that will filter into all aspects of your lifestyle!
Taking care of your mental health will help you take care of every other part of your busy life. Here are 4 ways to cope and reduce the stress in your life:
1. Create a quiet morning ritual. Do you immediately check your phone when you wake up, like in the scenario described earlier? All of those messages and emails, whether you read them or not, create a busy sense of urgency first thing in the morning. Obviously, this is not the mood you want to create in the mornings. Your morning time is sacred time! Treat it with the respect that you deserve. One way to do this is to create some sort of routine or ritual in the mornings that you reserve specifically for you. This could be something as simple as getting up an extra 30 minutes earlier so that you can read your favorite book, or even 10 minutes earlier to do a quiet meditation before you begin your day. Or you could wake up even earlier so that you can get in a morning workout to clear your head and release some of your pent-up energy.
2. Releasing your pent-up energy through exercise is another great way to reduce stress in your life. We all know that exercise and other physical activity creates endorphins in your body. These endorphins act as natural painkillers and also work as natural sleep-aids! Don’t underestimate the power of exercise—whether it’s a 20-minute walk around the block or an intense 60-minute workout, the chemicals that are released during these bouts of exercise are enough to increase your self-confidence from simply focusing on a single task and completing it. Regularly satisfying the need for approval and achievement can help lower the symptoms connected with mild depression and anxiety. Since depression and anxiety can often mess with your sleeping patterns, getting regular exercise will respectively help you get a better sleep.
3. In addition to exercise, having a regular sleeping routine will naturally reduce stress levels as well. Sleep is your body’s way of letting all of your body’s systems relax so that they can work more effectively and fix any issues or inflammation happening. Getting enough sleep will make you feel great, and allow your body to function at its best capacity. Setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it will get your body into a routine and train your body to get to sleep easier. However, studies show that the hours you choose for your bedtime have an effect on the quality of sleep that you get. Sleep expert Dr. Matt Walker explains, “The time of night when you sleep makes a significant difference in terms of the structure and quality of your sleep.” This is because the ratio of your non-REM and REM sleep cycles changes as the night progresses towards daylight. Non-REM is the type of deep restorative sleep that your body needs to repair itself. These cycles happen more at the beginning of the night, and then switch to lighter, dream-infused REM sleep as dawn creeps up. Therefore, going to bed 2-3 hours before the clock hits midnight will enable a more restful sleep!
4. Eat a conscious, balanced diet. It’s so easy and convenient these days to pick up fast food or bring packaged food along with us for our breakfasts, lunches, and sometimes, even dinners. But the chemicals in these types of foods wreak havoc on our bodies, which in turn affect our brains. Our body has a harder time processing packaged foods, and this makes our bodies kick into overdrive as they try to deal with the foreign chemicals while also handling the emotional stress of a busy day. Refined sugar is a huge problem in this sense, because it temporarily suppresses the stress hormone cortisol. That is why people tend to opt for something sweet when they need a “pick-me-up”. But the problem with refined sugar is that it’s not only hard for your body to process, but it also leaves you hungrier. So what can you eat to help reduce stress so that you don’t reach for that sweet treat? That list could be saved for another blog post all on its own, but here are some helpful snack ideas for the stress-eater:
· Veggies and hummus. Vegetable sticks will satisfy the craving for something crunchy, and hummus will supply good fats and protein to help you feel full longer.
· Ants on a log. Layering almond butter and raisins on celery sticks gives you filling fiber, fat, and protein that also tastes sweet and satisfying.
· Roasted chickpeas. These taste great and act as a “chips” substitute. Simply toss with olive oil and spices and then bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.
· Dark chocolate & almonds. This is a great way to curb cravings. Melt a couple squares of 70% or higher dark chocolate and dip 8-10 almonds for a sweet snack.
Ultimately, the days will pass whether you schedule in time for yourself or not. Don’t let the stress of everyday life build up to the point of making you ill or dysfunctional. By following these guidelines, you should be able to create more peace and happiness in your day, while keeping your mind and body healthy.
We’d love to hear about the routines that keep you healthy and happy. Send us your tips and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.