7 Ways to Reduce Stress Levels
Today’s world has changed so much from where it was as recently as even 15-20 years ago. We’re so busy, there’s pressures of work, family life, societal pressure, we’re eating on the go. I think social media has even left us feeling under pressure to “fit in”. Everybody is busy trying to present the image of a perfect life online. The pressures of social media on teenagers are well documented but I don’t think it’s restricted just to that age group. What all of the above has resulted in is a generation of stressed out people. So here’s my top 7 tips on reducing stress levels:
1. Eat Healthy Foods:
Healthy foods increase energy levels, lift your mood and make you feel better about yourself. Your skin, hair etc will look much healthier and your confidence improves. You become a more productive person, which in turn increases your enjoyment of life.
For me exercise, food and lifestyle are the very first things that should be looked at for people suffering with stress, anxiety or depression. Exercise releases feel good endorphins, which immediately lifts the mood. I often say training is like therapy for me. As a self employed person I’m under pressure a lot but training every day is what supports my mental health. Training is my release. If you’re somebody who is stressed out the best advice I can give you is to take an hour each day to train. You may think you don’t have time but trust me if you make time you’ll soon realise it’s not optional. It will change your world. Hand on heart when I’m stressed I don’t perform at my best in work, I can only do that when I’m feeling good. And I feel good when I exercise regularly. Lifting weights and a few rounds with a punch bag are my personal favourites but there’s no bad exercise, just do what you enjoy.
Ensure you’re getting adequate sleep. Failure to do so increases the body’s production of the stress hormone, Cortisol. High Cortisol levels also make it very difficult to shed fat so for those on a weight loss journey it’s a double whammy! Avoid working overtime if possible, especially if it’s eating into your sleep time. Your body needs that time to recover. You may get through the days but you’re not performing at your best, you’re wearing yourself out and your stress levels are rising. Aim for 7-9 hours.
4. Time out:
It’s so important to take time out to unwind. This can be whatever you enjoy….Surfing, Yoga, Reading, Spa days. Just take the intensity down occasionally and allow the stress and tension to leave the body. One of my favourites for this is long walks. I’m lucky enough to live beside some beautiful beaches so they get hit a lot. It’s not something I consider part of my training, it’s just about clearing the head really. I always leave the phone at home too.
5. Social Media Breaks:
I’ve touched on the issues of social media above and I honestly believe it has a bigger influence on us and our mood than many people realise. I’ve started taking weekend detoxes from social media and I can honestly say I feel so much better after a couple of days away from it all. Of course social media has it’s good sides but I also find there’s a lot of falseness, people ranting, people looking for an opportunity to be offended, people trying to impress and just generally a lot of stuff that brings your mood down if you’re spending too much time on it. Try a weekend away from it. Uninstall your social media apps, reconnect with family and friends, get out in nature. I promise you’ll feel so much better at the end of that weekend.
6. Be organised:
You run the day or the day runs you. Use a diary. Map out how you’re going to spend each hour of the day. Schedule tasks that need to be done. Then stick to it. Do this repeatedly and over time you become a very productive person. The alternative is going into the day with no plan, chasing your tail and stress levels rising. You go from day to day, week to week putting out fires instead of progressing. And when you’re planning your day don’t forget about point 2. the new you now schedules training time!
Laughter is the best medicine! All of this stress you’re letting build up, is it really that important? Will it matter twenty years from now? Life is for living, enjoy it. Socialise. Meet up with family and friends. Laugh, joke and be happy. It’s another sure way to reduce those stress levels.