Secrets to reducing stress
Life might be quieter without those daily challenges, but experts believe that our bodies may actually benefit from having to deal with short spurts of stress, because they increase our motivation, excitement and momentum. But chronic stress can make us miserable and anxious – plus, when we’re stressed, we can start to do all sorts of things that aren’t particularly good for us, from drinking more to comfort eating. So, because it's not always possible to remove yourself from stressful situations, what matters most is how you react and deal with them.
Find your triggers
The first step is to learn what triggers your particular stress. Are there situations that always set you off? Do you react better or worse at certain times of the month? If you’re a working mum, juggling home and work may be your source of stress, while for others the cause may be feeling tired and run down. Recognise the warning signs – you can’t always avoid stress, so you need to do what you can to minimise the unhealthy aspects and maximise your ability to cope.
Make the changes you can
You may be able to make changes to your routine to help reduce stress. For instance, time management techniques can help people become more organised and find time for themselves.
Keep your expectations realistic
It’s also important to have realistic expectations of yourself. If a train is late, you need to accept that there is nothing you can do about it. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a deadline. Sometimes, we become locked into unrealistic patterns so that when something beyond your control goes wrong, you might automatically assume you’re a failure. Not true!p;
Learn to relax
Some people benefit from taking up yoga, but anything that relaxes you helps, even just doing absolutely nothing for a few minutes. Laughter can also be a real help – research conducted by Texas A&M University showed that laughing positively influences a person’s state of mind. It relieves stress and helps to build a sense of general wellbeing, so the more positive we feel and the more we can laugh, the more equipped we are to deal with problems.
Could you exercise more? When you’re stressed, try going for a swim or a walk – regular exercise can help to calm you down and clear your mind. The endorphins released during physical activity help alleviate stress, easing tension and boosting your mood.
Identify your food traps
Under stress, it can be harder to stick to making healthier choices - and that could include healthier food choices! So, use a food diary to work out when you make ‘unhelpful’ food decisions, what they are and plan ahead to beat them. For example, do you:
Habitually snack when you’re not hungry?
Forget to drink water?
- Eat oversized portions?
Food trap tips
Always try to eat breakfast, even if time is short; it will help you be more productive during the morning and protect you from getting ruffled by minor inconveniences.
Try to cut down on caffeine by drinking herbal tea instead. At the very least avoid caffeine after around 3pm, as it can interfere with sleep, and proper sleep is vital for helping you handle daily sources of stress.
Drink plenty of water – always carry a water bottle with you, as a reminder.
Have healthy snacks at the ready that are full of protein to help prevent fatigue.
- Plan your meals so that you’re not left wondering what you’ll eat – with a plan in place, you’re less likely to skip meals.