Modern life can put us through our paces, often making us feel stressed and over-whelmed. This week marks the first week of Stress Awareness Month where charities, companies, institutions and the general public recognise and speak out about stress and how to deal with it.
There are a number of ways to deal with stress, none of which are right or wrong as different methods work for different people. However, prioritising your own well-being is key so we’ve pulled together a list of small changes you can make if you're feeling under the weather.
Our bodies are made up of 70% water so when we’re dehydrated we struggle to function. Dehydration can have a number of side effects such as headaches, dizziness, tiredness and anxiety symptoms such as a racing heart. These can make you feel very low and sometimes even panicky. Lots of people struggle to drink their daily recommended amount (1.2 litres), but it really helps keeps these symptoms at bay. If you find it tough then eat plenty of fruit and veg during meal times as they hold lots of water and can supplement what you don’t drink.
Try to avoid things which are inherently unhealthy - such as alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. Whilst these offer a short term fix, long term, stimulants will only make you feel worse.
The daily recommended intake of fruit and veg was, until not long ago, 5 portions. However, after extensive research it’s now been upped to 10 portions a day. Eating nutrient packed foods helps improve your resistance against the symptoms of stress and illnesses so the more greens you eat, the better you will feel.
A lack of sleep is a huge cause of stress but, unfortunately, stress is also a big cause of not being able to sleep. If you’re struggling to drift off, try to maximise your level of relaxation before you go to bed. Make your room as tranquil as possible and try reading a book to help calm the body and mind. Avoid drinking caffeine in the evening, doing exercise just before you go to bed or doing anything which needs a lot of focus such as working.
You don’t need to be told to not use an electronic devise before bed but if it’s a must, make sure it’s on night mode so you don’t strain your eyes and re-awaken your mind. Avoid staying in bed throughout the day as you will end up associating your bed with being awake as opposed to being asleep. And lastly, try to get into a routine of going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day so that when it is bed time, your body has already started to prepare.
You should aim to exercise regularly, even if it’s just for 20 minutes each day. Exercise releases endorphins, focuses the mind and can generally makes you feel more positive. It also gives you time to focus on yourself for a period of the day.
Sit quietly for just 10 minutes, focus on your breathing, your body and on positive thoughts, perhaps by repeating a positive word in your head. Allow thoughts to come and go and instead of wishing for the negative thoughts to go away, just know that they will subside as you re-focus on your mind-body connection and your breathing.
One common cause of stress is having too much to do and not enough time to do it in. It’s better to say a guilt-free 'no' to something, than say 'yes' and not be able to be the best version of yourself. If you’re tired or in a bad mood, you’ll be more annoyed and maybe anxious about how you came across than if you said 'no' and avoided the situation altogether.
A lot of problems or tasks seem impossible to solve and very overwhelming on the surface. But if you write them down and then prioritise what needs doing first, how you’re going to do it and when it needs to be done by, everything will seem far more manageable.
Have some downtime away from emails, text messages and social media. The majority of us check our phones as soon as we wake up and it’s the last thing we do before going to bed; making it impossible to ever fully switch off. Limiting the time you spend using technology will help you detach from anything that's pressing.
It sounds simple, but talking to someone can really help relieve stress and tension. Talking things through can make problems seem smaller and your confidant might have some useful guidance.
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