8 Tips to reduce reduce stress at work (or home)
The reason I’m blogging about stress is because it has a bigger impact on our nutrition – i.e eating / drinking / food shopping / snacking habits than many would think… Moreover, it’s effect on our digestion and wellbeing is cyclical… and that means that we must do something about it if we want to feel better both physically and mentally. At the most basic level, stress affects our gut health – even temporarily halting our digestion. Anyone with constipation, for example, probably already suspects this and they are possibly ignoring it… Constipation can result in bloating, flatulence, discomfort, piles, and more serious conditions like diverticulitis etc.. and if you feel physically poor, that also has a deleterious effect on our mental health.
Moreover, anxiety, via a series of chemicals called acetylcholine, actually halts your body healing and learning and it impacts your memory… which in itself affects your performance at work, and can affect your relationships.
How we deal with stress and the strain it places our bodies under that’s the problem not the stress itself (usually). Some tips on dealing with stress:
1) If you’re stressed or anxious – tell someone. Don’t keep everything bottled up until you can no longer cope. Talk to your colleagues, counsellor, a boss, HR, your union, a friend, your GP, parent, mumsnet, dadsnet, whoever. There’s a reason we read ‘The Huge Bag of Worries’ to our children… confronting and offloading their concerns can make them seem less threatening. If you can’t face talking, tell your feelings to a private journal. If you are experiencing regular anxiety please see your Doctor.
2) Don’t take on more commitments than you can handle. Learn to say ‘no’ when you feel you can’t do something. Those with low self confidence often take on more than others in the hope of some intangible ‘reward’. Feeling on top of the basic things needs to be reward enough sometimes.
3) Prioritise, and keep prioritising. Leave out what can wait or what can be delegated. Use technology to help you with this if you’re digitally minded – try Toodledoo, Todoist, Google Keep to help keep you on top of things. Whilst I’m talking technology though – sometimes – it’s very liberating to just switch off your emails, social networking and just give yourself a break from it all!. And breathe….
4) Exercise! Great for dealing with stress and my number one favourite de-stress activity. Twerk around the kitchen in the morning to the radio if music is your thing… But ideally, build up to some regular, sustainable exercise. If you have an exercise ‘buddy’ so you are more inclined to turn up to the class/ run / gym session. A personal trainer working in a small group or individually can be great for motivation and seeing early results.
5) Have some time for yourself…to walk, to think, to knit, to cook, or draw or indulge your passions… We only get one life – it’s important to step off the treadmill regularly and just enjoy it as much as you can.
6) Meditate. Headspace offers a 10 minute phone app you can use virtually anywhere. Just 10 minutes daily can leave you mentally refreshed. With practice you can help your body to tune into the sympathetic nervous system – the “rest and digest” part – which helps us to manage stress. You can do this in your house, on the train, at work… it is possible.
7) Remember you are doing your best! In the constant push to achieve more, it’s OK to congratulate yourself sometimes. Smile to yourself. Even for just doing something when you said you would… or getting the children off to school without anyone having a breakdown.
8) Eat properly – If you’re doing all or some of the above, then you’re less likely to be eating rubbish food, drinking too much coffee and / or alcohol, skipping meals, smoking too much and exercising too little. Unhelpful stress responses may also be made worse by a diet that is low in certain nutrients such as Omega 3, B vitamins, Vitamin D etc. If you are concerned about this, please get in touch for a consultation to discuss homing your diet.
If you are concerned about the effect of ongoing stress on your health, I can offer tests to measure DHEA and cortisol which really helps to hone your therapy plan.