Earlier on the blog, I wrote a post on the link between stress and gut health. I wanted to follow up that post by sharing some practical ways to deal with common, everyday stress. By practicing these strategies when you feel overwhelmed or anxious, you can actively calm your body and mind.
By prioritizing self-care, you have the power to prevent chronic stress and an array of health related problems.
Below are 6 simple tips for lowering everyday stress that I have learned from both personal experience and qualified therapists.
- The Body Scan– This form of meditation requires you to intentionally focus on your body. Begin by lying on your back or sitting in a traditional meditation pose. Starting with your toes, bring attention to each section of your body and slowly scan upward until you reach the top of your head. Notice the sensations in each area without judgement or trying to change anything. Toes, feet, ankles, lower legs, knees, thighs, abdomen, lower back, chest, upper back, fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, face, head. Once you’ve scanned each part, hold your whole body in mindful focus. This process allows you to get in touch with your body and put aside the demands of the day. It also promotes the release of pent-up tension and emotion.
- Focus On Your Breath– This mindful practice encourages your body to relax by slowing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure and clearing your mind. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands in your lap. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Breathe deeply in through your nose, feeling the cool air enter your nostrils. Concentrate on it filling your lungs and expanding your belly. You might like to place your hand on your belly and feel it rise and fall. Continue this slow, rhythmic breathing pattern for 3 to 5 minutes. If thoughts enter your mind, gently refocus on your breath. This practice can simply be done at your work desk when you need a time-out.
- Eat Right– A wholesome, healthy diet is essential to both mental and physical health. When you fuel your body with fresh, unprocessed foods, you’ll feel more energized and balanced. It’s important to eat a healthy breakfast every morning to regulate your blood sugar, kick-start your metabolism and provide ample energy for your day ahead. Check out my breakfast tutorial and berry protein smoothie recipe for additional tips. If you fuel your body with sugary, fatty, processed foods, you’re more susceptible to mood swings, a stressed liver and illness. I recommend eating a balance of protein, healthy fats and low GI carbs at every meal. I also believe in an abundance of fruits and vegetables. These provide vital vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants to keep your body in optimal health.
- Pamper Yourself– This tip is my favorite because it’s the one I have the hardest time doing! With the never-ending busyness of L.I.F.E. I find it difficult to carve out valuable “me time”. Have you ever pushed yourself to the limit and finally reached that familiar breaking point of “I need to stop NOW and regain my sanity!“? I remind myself that I must sprinkle a bit of self-care into my daily routine in order to ward off a stress-induced breakdown. The great thing about tip #4 is that you get to cater it to your own needs and desires. Do you enjoy candle-lit bubble baths? Listening to soothing music while lying on a blanket in the sun? Escaping to your favorite coffee shop for a frothy latte? Curling up in bed with a good book and cup of tea? Getting a massage? Facial? Mani-pedi? Go on, show yourself some love!
- Exercise For Fun– We’ve all heard of the “runner’s high” but even moderate exercise releases those feel-good endorphins. Moving your body increases blood flow and can boost your mood instantaneously. The key is to have the mindset of moving for enjoyment rather than punishment. Some of my favorite forms of exercise are hiking in nature, walking with a friend and playing with my dogs. Other fun options include Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, swimming and playing sports. Regular exercise is known to boost self-confidence and reduce symptoms of mild anxiety and depression. It also improves your sleep which leads me to #6.
- Get Good Sleep– Stress is a key cause of disrupted sleep. And when you’re over-tired, you can become irritable and more stressed. It can become a vicious cycle that leaves you frazzled! Getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night increases your risk of developing heart problems, depression and a weakened immune system. Doctors recommend that adults sleep 7-9 hours a night in order to function at their best. A good night’s sleep improves your mental sharpness, emotional balance, productivity and vitality. Some tips to ensure good quality sleep include turning your TV and phone off an hour before going to bed, drinking chamomile tea and rubbing Lavender oil on the bottom of your feet or pillow at night.
Be intentional about taking care of yourself. Your health is of utmost importance. Value yourself enough to discover inner peace and wellness.
Which tip is your favorite? Leave a comment below!
Lots of love,