Since the Covid-19 epidemic began, many people have found their stress levels have been consistently high. It is difficult to switch off and relax in our 24-hour “always on” society. Long-term stress and anxiety can negatively impact our physical and mental well-being.
When we work too hard and don’t care for ourselves, we get stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out. Your body’s fight or flight response kicks in when you’re busy and stressed. The adrenal glands produce cortisol, a stress hormone that gives your body the energy to stay on high alert.
Several glands and organs are stimulated, which makes your heart beat faster, your blood pump more vigorously, and your breath come more rapidly. As a result of the perceived threat, energy is diverted from digestion and sent to muscles and the brain. These changes help us survive in times of stress, but they become harmful if they continue.
This is why it is important to tackle stress and prevent it from escalating before it leads to burnout and health problems.
There are many ways to reduce stress and promote relaxation in our lives, from watching what we eat and meditating to reading a book or spending time with friends and family. There are many ways to reduce stress and improve your mental health. Following on from our previous tips about combating stress, here are some more tips, tricks, and strategies to keep stress from taking over your life.
While stressful situations cannot be avoided, they can be managed over time. Different strategies work for different people, so you should find out what works for you. There are steps you can take to set expectations and boundaries during work. You can, for example, do a proper assessment of your daily o-do-list. Determine what you can and cannot control.
The simple act of acknowledging what is realistically achievable in a day can feel liberating. Also, redefine your definition of success. Practise saying ‘no’ to things you cannot handle and give yourself space for creative expression. Set a pace you can handle. The balance between work and personal life cannot be achieved overnight, but you should take the necessary steps to get there.
Focus on your breathing
In times of tension, put your left hand on your belly button and your right hand under your collarbone and allow the breath to fill the interior of your body from the belly to the top of the lungs. Keep doing this for one minute.
Breathing is your best friend when it comes to stress management. Notice how your breathing patterns change when you interact with various situations. You will then have the choice to relax consciously and notice if the situation is consistently causing undue tension; you will need to decide if you should endure it or change it.
In times of stress and worry, it’s important to activate your body’s natural relaxation response, which can help lower blood pressure, calm the mind, and balance both body and mind. Meditation has many health benefits, including reducing stress, easing anxiety, and improving mental health. Taking time to relax your mind through meditation allows you to separate your energy, attention, and emotions.
Take B vitamins
B vitamins are depleted by stress, so it may be beneficial to obtain them in supplements or through your diet. Their functions are converting food into energy, creating new blood cells, and maintaining healthy skin and brain cells. Salmon, spinach, wholegrain bread, liver and fruit are good sources of vitamin B.
Top up on magnesium
Magnesium acts as a natural relaxant, helping reduce physical stress. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is made in the brain and promotes relaxation and sleep by easing the cramping of muscles. You can top up your magnesium levels by eating foods that contain magnesium, such as spinach, nuts and wholemeal bread.
Watch what you eat
Sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine, and smoking can spike your physical and mental stress levels, causing increased oxidative stress in our cells, mood swings, anxiety, and an overall stressed body and mind.
Follow these tips, destress and take care of yourself.