We know that a healthy eating or workout routine requires daily and weekly rhythm. You wouldn’t think of yourself as a good eater if you ate junk food every day, and then had a single kale smoothie once a week when you felt too sick to dig into more junk food. You wouldn’t think of yourself as committed to exercise if you mostly sat around and then went for a run and did a high-intensity weight lifting sessions a couple times a month.
And yet, that’s exactly how we manage stress. We don’t think about stress on a daily basis unless we’re already under water. We only use self-care techniques when we already feel bad. That’s like waiting until you’re sick from cheeseburgers to dig into the berries.
Make Self-Care a Lifestyle
Don’t wait until stress builds to a breaking point to anticipate it and mitigate it. We all undergo various amounts of daily stress from relationships, work, life, and emotions. Managing stress should be something that we all do every single day, especially when we don’t feel burnt out. Learning to take care of yourself and the small amounts of stress will prevent that stress from building to a breaking point. Let’s build stress-release and self-care into your daily and weekly routines so that you can avoid the bigger crashes.
Keeping stress and cortisol levels high in your body can lead to health complications. Workouts and adrenaline naturally increase those cortisol levels. Our bodies are infamously bad at translating fight or flight responses in a relatively safe digital world that we might inhabit. The first step to lowering cortisol and stress levels in your life is to increase mindfulness. Make lowering stress a goal. Become more in tune with your body and emotions, and learn to recognize when you’re feeling stress.
Use the Right Diet and Supplements
Our guts and minds are linked in a number of profound ways that science is only beginning to understand. What’s going on up there is linked to what’s going on inside, and the other way around. Bad food can affect your mood and stress levels.
Eating a good, regular diet is essential to managing stress. Binging out on fast food and grease won’t improve your mood, it can actually make it worse. Don’t let your stomach go empty, make sure you eat throughout the day with good hearty foods and healthy vegetables.
Try using a supplement, like Organic Green Superfood, which contains adaptogens and antioxidants. Adaptogens are known to help stabilize psychological states and bring about a greater sense of emotional stability. They can be crucial to help regulate your process and turn your days into a gentle curve of emotions instead of some critical spikes.
Exercise and Stay Mentally Active
Use puzzles, games, and books to help your mind stay sharp and focused. When our minds begin to wander too much, we can overthink things and worst-case scenario plan. We can lose touch with relationships and things in our life and create more stress for ourselves. Forcing your mind to focus on something outside of itself can really help mitigate stress.
Working out increases the cortisol in our systems. But inflammation and cortisol are a lot like springs. Increasing the tension in a single moment can actually decrease tension over time, because a spike in the levels causes them to bounce back down. When you push on a spring, you create more immediate tension, but as soon as the spring is released, it bounces back to a less-tense position than it was before. This is why having a good cry can make us feel so much better in the moment as well.
Sunshine and fresh air should be built into your week. Even putting on make-up and a great outfit and heading to Target for a few hours can turn around a day where you feel shut-in and isolated.
Stay Connected and Social
Vulnerability, as Brene Brown has taught us, is crucial to maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle. Having meaningful interactions with people that we love in life is essential to maintaining good stress levels. When we begin to feel alone and isolated, like no one is in our corner, that’s when stress levels can turn worse. Playing life on a team is one of the best ways to stay healthy.
Don’t let relationships slip away. Make time to talk to people. See a therapist. Practice healthy relationship habits, like grace, forgiveness, intentionality, authenticity, and self-reflection.
Make sleep a priority. Sleep, although vital for our psychological and physical health, is often cast aside as something that is inefficient. After all, if we’re stressed about our work load and relationships, it seems counter-intuitive to go to sleep. We should stay up to work on our projects or have that conversation with our friend or partner. Sometimes, however, you just need sleep. Make sure to get anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you pull an all-nighter, take a nap and increase your afternoon coffee.
Meditate and Self-Reflect
Meditation, mindfulness, and self-reflection can help you stay above water in your life by noticing patterns that cause stress and making adjustments to the ways that you think about the world.
There are many different ways to meditate. The goal is to find something that works for you. Stress is often caused by anticipation about the future, and meditation helps aleviate stress by bringing your awareness into the present moment. In meditation, notice your breathing and thoughts. Don’t bring judgment, just notice. Practice being in the present.
Self-reflection, on the other hand, is all about tying your past, present, and future together. You think through your life, the past and the possibilities. Some people like to write to self-reflect, others talk to a mentor or therapist, and others like to sit and think or even talk to themselves. Even writing for 15 minutes a day can reduce stress by making your life more coherent and reminding you of what you’ve come through to get here, and refocusing you on where you’re going.
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