Hope you are having a great week! As promised here is part two of the Living with Stress series. Today I will start to share with you some of the tools you can work with to manage your stress levels…
As I mentioned in the previous post, stress reeks havoc on our bodies. Our bodies response to stress is extensive. Our pupils dilate, muscles tighten, blood vessels constrict, breathing increases, blood pressure rises, adrenal glands release hormones into the blood stream, and our stomach and intestines are affected. All of these responses are quite extensive! What if we are doing them over and over throughout the day! No wonder we feel physically exhausted!
Did you check out the Stress assessment in the last post? Having done the assessment, you will have a clearer idea of where your stress level is currently at.
There really are two main ways to deal with stress, firstly it is with our Physical bodies through, diet, exercise, meditation, relaxation and breathing exercises. The second part to stress management is Cognitive awareness, through analysing our thought processes, dealing with guilt, anger, resentment, developing a spirit of contentment, gratitude and generosity to name a few. Seeing as there is quite a lot to both of these areas I plan to break it up into smaller posts, rather than bombard you with too much information Today we will discuss the physical care we need to keep our stress to a minimum.
Dr. John Tickell states that with stress management, it is a question of everything in moderation except for laughter, sex, vegetables and fish. Moderations can be difficult for type A personalities, where they have tendencies for an all or nothing mindset.
Physical self- care is getting enough physical exercise, eating a good balanced diet, getting enough sleep, reduction in stimulants etc…Now I am no expert in each of these factors, as there is always contradicting evidence, which makes it hard for us, but I think common sense should always prevail.
We know that eating a bag of potato chips on the couch late at night is certainly no good for us. Currently there is a greater trend towards eating clean. This is eating food that is naturally grown rather than ‘produced’ in a packet, box, wrapping etc. More fresh meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fresh dairy. It has been well said that, “We are what we eat”… The more toxic food we eat, the more fat cells our bodies need to store the toxins!
Also what we eat can have a powerful effect on our mental well being. What we eat can determine whether we are anxious, or relaxed, happy or depressed, alert or vague…By eating clean, and having treats in moderation, we will be giving our bodies the nutrition it needs to replace cells, and function at optimum levels, and help keep sickness at bay.
Alcohol and Coffee:
Two of the most enjoyed and abused liquids of the world! Alcohol can be useful, as it reduces fat levels in the blood, is a good sedative, and dilates blood vessels. BUT….it also a major producer of fat, and it can be addictive. Again the principle of moderation is key. Enjoy a glass of wine now and then, but don’t over do it or drink in excess.
Coffee is a well known stimulant, along with tea, and caffeinated drinks such as Coke. It is the most common drug of addiction in the world today. It is recommended not to have more than 3 cups per day.
I think this goes without saying, that there is no physical, mental, or emotional benefit of taking recreational drugs, or any over use of prescription drugs for that matter. Each of these will increase your stress levels, as you come off a high and crash.
Physical exercise has many great benefits. It will help with your heart health, joints lubricated, increased oxygen to the brain, muscle strength, body tone, and produces happy endorphins that stimulate good mood. It will also help us to maintain our recommended body weight ratio, and keeps us young! There are endless reports about the benefits of physical exercise. Time constraints seems to be a factor that impedes a regular exercise regime for many people, but the benefits are so great! Moderation again is the key here, we don’t need you overdoing it, or you will be un-doing the good exercise produces in your body, and placing more stress on your body than necessary.
Medical experts recommend at least 7-8 hours of sleep per evening. This will allow you to awaken fresh in the morning and is essential to stress reduction, and good health. We can’t cope well when we haven’t had enough sleep. You only need to look at a rowdy toddler to know that they are needing some sleep. Sleep helps us to rest, and for our bodies to repair themselves. Definitely be sure to get your minimum each night.
In conclusion, a great deal of these things mentioned you probably already knew, but possibly, you didn’t know that they have an intrinsic relation to stress management. I hope these little reminders will allow you to have a quick look at your life, and see how you are fairing. Are you eating well, sleeping enough, exercising and keeping your stimulants to a healthy level? Take this opportunity to have a quick reflection on where you are currently at in these areas. It is for your benefit, that you do these things, and just think of how wonderful you will feel when you take the time to look after yourself!
Here are some suggested website for a deeper, and more concise information in these areas:
Next time we will look at some more physical tools such as relaxation, meditation and breathing exercises, that will help reduce our stress levels