It is not a secret that modern days come with a lot more stress. A lot of our jobs went digital and as a result we got stuck behind a desk for the bigger part of the day. In todays daily routine social media subjects us to the opinion of so many more people than just friends, family and neighbours. We started eating unhealthy because we feel like we don’t have enough time and ordering food or throwing it in the microwave is so much easier. But come on, enough is enough.
Get enough sleep
Sounds easy enough, but is one of the hardest things to tackle. How many times have you promised yourself to go to bed early and ended up turning off the light way later than you set out to do? But that alarm goes off the same time every morning. Not many of us have the luxury to sleep in when they had a bad night of sleep. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Not everybody needs this amount of sleep, but it is a very good ball park and especially when you are dealing with stress, it is a good goal to set. You can buy a lot of good sleep trackers to give you insight in your sleep. I use the Fitbit Charge 3. It will remind me to go get ready for bed and will show me how I slept, so I can adjust accordingly.
Start your day off right
The way you start your day is at least as important as the way you finish it. Most of us wake up with an alarm and hardly make it out the door in time. We skip breakfast, barely hit the shower and rush off to work. But whether you work in an office or from home, we know that skipping the most important meal of the day is a bad habit. Starting the day stressed will flood your body with stress hormones. So try to get out of bed with enough time to do a bit of stretching or yoga, give yourself time to shower and get yourself a descent meal you can sit down for.
We can concentrate less on the task at hand when we divide our concentration over multiple tasks. It will also cost you more energy to do things simultaneously. So to give your mind some peace and focus on one thing at a time. Really think about what you are doing and finish before you move on to the next thing. It can still happen that you start doing multiple things at once again, but bring it back to one thing as soon as you realize it.
This can be as easy as wearing something more comfortable or making sure your chair at the office is adjusted the right way. Sit up straight, have a glass of water at your desk and step away from your screen every once in a while. I also like to have a plant at my desk. It sounds silly, but it makes a big difference to me. Not only do plants produce oxygen, they are nice to look at and bring a bit of color to your desk. Do choose a plant that is easy to take care of, because a dying plant is everything but positive and can bring stress instead of reducing it.
Let’s say that humans were meant to catch their food or to roam around looking for it. In today’s daily life we sit at a desk or on a couch and stare in the same direction all day. We don’t have to look for food or run to catch it and we hardly get our hearts pumping. Starting your day with some stretching exercises can help you be ready for your day. It will release to right hormones and endorphins and will get your blood flow going. Where we used to talk about yoga as a thing for hippies, we now know the health benefits and the fact that it reduces stress. And if you go to the gym to get your cardio on you’ll soon realize that you will be more comfortable in your own skin. That is before even talking about loosing weight.
Walk after lunch
It is tempting to go straight back to your desk after lunch. But a little walk outside after lunch goes a long way. Getting away from it al, even if it is a short period of time gives you room to think, clear your head and stretch your legs. Breathing in some clean air will prevent you from getting headaches and since walking boosts endorphins, it reduces stress hormones. Walking with a friend or colleague can reduce your stress levels even further. It gives you the time to vent a little and talk about something other than work.
When we take time to reflect we can process our emotions and take care of our mental health. Meditation is one way to do it. Just sit down quietly and reflect on your daily life. I like to do guided meditation, but that is not a necessity. Guided meditation helps you by guiding you through your thoughts and brings you back when you start to wonder. You can find free guided meditation on YouTube or Spotify, but I use the app Headspace. This way I get daily reminders to slow down.
Be organised and declutter
Looking for your keys, your favourite shirt or important papers. It is easy to make a mess, but the more stuff you have laying around, the more impulses it gives you. So tidy up a bit. Clean up your closet, throw away stuff you don’t need and have a fixed place for stuff you use regularly. If there is stuff in your house that needs to be fixed, fix it or get it fixed. Same goes for stuff at your desk. Throw out papers you don’t need anymore and don’t keep food plates at your desk and don’t keep food wrappers laying around. It is a good excuse for a little walk to the canteen or kitchen and get yourself a drink.
Eat and drink healthy
A good body health is linked to a good mental health, so it is crucial to take good care of your body. Processed Sugar is highly addictive and not only bad for your teeth, but bad for your entire body. They are what is causing those nasty food cravings. It is a good start to stop buying sweets and buy fruits and greens as a replacement. I’m not saying you immediately have to start eating kale (although it’s not a bad idea), but you can simply start by replacing chocolate with the dark chocolate, chips with apple slices and dip some cucumber in hummus if you have cravings between meals.
When it comes to drinks it is a good idea to skip soda. There is so much processed sugar in cola and other soda pops, that replacing it with water or tea will make a big difference in a short amount of time. If you don’t like to drink regular water you can infuse it with strawberry, mint and many other fruits and herbs. I’m sorry to say that alcohol is bad when you are trying to reduce stress. Not that an occasional drink should be forbidden, but the body has to work hard to get the alcohol toxins out of your system. And if it has to fight alcohol, it will have less energy to fight other toxins.
We tend to see only the things we want to have and forget the things we already have. So when we fail to achieve something we stress ourselves out way more than we initially should. But come on. Just because you don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model when you wake up or can’t play the piano like John Legend the first time you touch it doesn’t make you a worthless person. If there is a goal you would like to achieve, make a realistic planning for it. Just don’t expect to suddenly be as successful as Oprah become a billionaire overnight. Achieving something takes time. And don’t forget to adjust your planning every once in a while if things don’t go as planned. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend.
Go to the spa
The spa is one of those places where you literally have to do nothing but sit. You can get a nice massage or sit down in the sauna and relax. The heat of the sauna relaxes the muscles and stimulates the release of endorphins, our little stress reducers. The sauna also helps you to flush toxins through sweat and helps you to detox your body. That is where that healthy after sauna glow comes from.
By giving our bodies the time to heal itself it will build a better immune system and you’ll start to sleep better. Smoothies are a go-to for a lot of people, but everything in a smoothy has been chopped up to bits. It will release energy faster, but not gradually, because the body doesn’t have to break it down first. That is why you might experience an energy dip when you are detoxing on smoothies. You will get in all the healthy ingredients, but you will spike blood sugar levels. The best way to detox is to start eating unprocessed food. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. You don’t have to entirely avoid sugar, fat and salt, but be conscious of your intake.
We stare at a screen for the bigger part of the day. That can be a computer screen, a telephone screen or a tv screen. If that describes your entire day, it might be good to go offline. We are so used to all the impulses we get from social media and advertisements that we don’t even realize it until we stop. My eyes where physically hurting the last time I did a digital detox. It is good to turn off the screen and not being told what to look like or what to buy. No matter how good or bad the intentions of the sender.
Do something positive
For every task you have to do that brings you stress, do something that gives you energy. That can be different for everyone. For one person it is reading a book, for the next it is taking care of plants. But give yourself the space to enjoy something you like. Try a new hobby, call a friend or visit a museum. It doesn’t really matter, as long as it balances out the stress. Help yourself by making a list of things that you know will give you positive energy. Then do one thing every day. Enjoy!