Five ways to manage your stressThere’s a lot of talk these days about healthy living. But what does that really mean? Living a healthier lifestyle is largely determined by how you eat, exercise and balance life’s priorities. In fact, managing stress is one the most important factors in living healthier; without it, exercising consistently and eating properly are often compromised.
"Fight or flight"
In primitive times, our “fight or flight” response to stress was necessary to survival. However, because we live much longer than our ancestors, we have more time to accumulate the negative effects of ongoing stress, exacerbated as we live faster, sleep less and eat foods that are less nutritious. Add employment challenges, our obsessive attachment to electronic devices, mounting debt, rush-hour traffic and serious stress burnout is inevitable.
Research shows that a lifetime filled with constant “bad” stress – be that physical, psychological or environment – can kill. It is estimated that 90% of all illness is stress based.
- Depletes the adrenal glands, inhibiting the secretion of hormones to help us when we’re under stress.
- Causes weight gain (especially in the mid-section).
- Increases the risk high blood pressure, diabetes and depression.
- Suppresses the immune system.
- Causes sleeplessness.
- Increases digestive issues.
- Impairs memory.
Here are five tips to help you get started managing your stress:
1. Enlist social support
One of the most important factors in lowering stress levels in our lives is to have social support. Be sure to share your goals with those who you know will encourage you and act as your cheerleader.
2. Schedule “me” time
You must set aside time in your day for you to focus on your needs. It doesn’t have to be long. Even 10 minutes to have a cup of tea or read a magazine will lower your stress if done consistently. Just make sure you’re doing something you enjoy.
3. Don’t over-schedule
When we schedule our days, we often rush from one commitment to the other without leaving enough time in-between. When your appointment is done, make sure you leave some time to de-stress before moving on with your day. Sometimes just scheduling travel time to get from one place to the other is enough to achieve balance.
4. Exercise regularly
Consistent exercise rids the body of harmful stress hormones. Be sure to focus on your breath as you exercise to ensure you are relaxing your muscles as you work out.
5. Eat a variety of foods, regularly
Eating a variety of whole foods will ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Plus, eating every 3 to 4 hours keeps you body’s hormones regulated.
COMING UP: Next week’s blog will look at the Learning to use your Breath to lower stress levels and how the breath can lower your risk of illness to lead you to a healthy, active life.