DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY
STRESS IS PART OF LIFE, BUT IF IT’S INTEFERING WITH YOUR WELLBEING, THESE STRATEGIES WILL HELP YOU FIND A BETTER BALANCE
In our fast-paced, busy and often chaotic world, is it any wonder stress-related issues are commonplace? It’s no secret that stress can be damaging. It changes how we manage our emotions, causes health problems and contributes to obesity and premature ageing.
Whether we like it or not, stress is a natural part of life and a healthy balance of it is actually beneficial to our wellbeing. For instance, let’s say there’s a goal you’ve been working towards and have been swamped with feelings of focus and excitement but at the same time short-term exhaustion. This is an example of positive stress that helps us improve our lives.
It’s when a stressor causes a person to feel anxious, fearful or hopeless that we experience the negative consequences associated with the word stress. In response to potential chaos, the body increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism and blood flow to the muscles.
This response is intended to help us react quickly and effectively to high-pressure situations or, in primitive times, flee from a life-threatening event (such as being chased by a lion). However, in this day and age, we’re constantly reacting to stressful situations without counteracting the effects, which leaves our sympathetic nervous system hardwired in “fight or flight” mode. This is where excessive cortisol is released, we drink excessive amounts of coffee and sugar and find sleeping difficult. Stress is free to thrive and this is why it’s referred to as the silent killer.
Research has shown that the small hassles of daily life can be the most damaging. A common day for many may include waking to an alarm on the phone, checking said phone for messages and scrolling through social media feeds.
Already we have allowed our state of emotions to be dictated by outside influences. Next, it’s time for a barista-strength coffee — which again sets off the already overworking adrenals. With no time for breakfast (as the snooze button was enforced too many times after a late-night Netflix binge), we find ourselves cursing at the poor driver in front that is driving to the speed limit. A day in the office brings its own dramas and, with no time for lunch, we’re craving sugar and carb-laden foods by 3pm.
We return home, after sitting in traffic, without allowing time to release any of the built-up tension through physical movement, bookending the day with mindless eating to dull the destruction that was caused during the day.
Day after day, this kind of lifestyle breaks us down mentally and physically. Here are some tips you can easily incorporate to help manage the daily grind.
1. GO TO SLEEP EARLIER
Sleep deprivation was used as a form of torture in medieval days as it sends us batty, increases susceptibility to anxiety and disrupts our hormone level balance. Ensure you’re not missing the 10pm sleep bus as between 10pm-3am is when we fall into our deepest REM sleep patterns.
2. CLEAN UP YOUR DIET
Reduce caffeine, processed foods, excessive sugars and high trans-fat food. Wholefoods are best.
3. GET MOVING
Exercise is great for improving mood, but only if it’s something you enjoy doing. Aerobic exercise is best and performed for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, most days of the week.
4. STAY IN THE NOW
By focusing on the now you are removing anxiety that surrounds the past and future. Meditation, yoga or anything that brings your attention to what you’re doing and your surroundings allows calmness to enter the system.
5. REWRITE THOUGHT SCRIPTS
Bringing mindfulness to your reactions will allow you to let go of repeated scripts.