Wellbeing
5 Steps to Stress Relief
April 2, 2014
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Stress Relief - Black and white photo of man covering his eyes with his hands.

Stress relief is so critical to optimal health. Learning how to cope with stress is one of the biggest survival skills we can learn in today’s world.

How do you react when things don’t go according to plan?

Do you roll with the punches? Does anxiety keep you from enjoying life? Do you engage in harmful coping behaviors like stress-eating?

To a great extent, our personality determines how we deal with stress in our lives, but here are 5 things to help keep your stress under control:

Sleep

Do you get enough sleep? I doubt it, it’s becoming increasingly more common for folks to exist on less than 6 hours of sleep a night. The old rule of thumb is at least 8hrs/night.

Sleep is so incredibly important, not just to rest our bodies, but to rejuvenate our minds. “Tired” and “cranky” absolutely go hand in hand, avoid waking up on the wrong side of the bed by getting adequate sleep each night. Don’t use your bedroom to watch the news or finish up work from the office. Instead, make your place of rest a place to relax and escape the day. Have a hot cup of tea, take a warm bath, or read a paperback (not an eReader with a back-lit screen that will mess with your circadian rhythms) to help you unwind.

Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins, a natural pick me up. There are so many benefits to exercising and they all add up to stress relief.

  • strengthen your muscles and bones
  • strengthen your immunity, which can decrease your risk of illness and infection
  • lower your blood pressure, sometimes as much as some antihypertensive medications
  • boost levels of good cholesterol in your blood
  • improve your blood circulation
  • improve your ability to control weight
  • help you sleep better at night
  • boost your energy
  • improve your self-image

Meditate

Practicing a short meditation in times of stress can give you a sense of calm, especially when the situation is one you really have no control over.

Natalie MacNeil of She Takes on The World has some great videos outlining a simple meditation that will help you let go of stress and feel empowered to mow down your workday.

Turn it Off

In this age of technology and instant gratification, we must learn to manage our devices. The convenience that mobile devices like mobile phones and tablets have added to our lives can actually be a double-edged sword. We depend on them so much it seems we can’t live without them.

This increased accessibility means not only can our loved ones reach us at any time, but so can work. If your employer or client legitimately needs to reach you during off hours, make sure you set clear limits on what you are willing to accept during those off hours and stick to your guns! Of course, there are emergencies and exceptions, but your personal time is precious. While you’re at it, invest some time to learn how to manage your email more efficiently so it doesn’t run you over. 

Take a Break

Always make room for downtime, especially when you’re feeling stressed. It doesn’t have to be a fancy vacation resort or require travel away from home, just some time for you to mentally get away and re-charge. If you build this into your regular routine, you can head off any building stress rather than actively work towards stress relief.

A day at the beach or an afternoon at the park will do. Just anywhere you can be and not think about bills, work, or whatever tensions you may have. It’s important to take time for yourself, so do it! You’ll feel better with a fresh outlook.

Treat Yourself

Find a small way to treat yourself each month or a few times a week. Take the dog for a walk, go sit in the sun, sign up for a yoga class at your local gym or community center, read a chapter in a fiction novel, take a friend to lunch. There are a million little treats that will brighten your day and take some of the edge off. Indulge in these small pleasures on a regular basis and you’ll find your days are easier to get through!

Stress is unavoidable. But what we do about it is up to us. Experiment with these stress relief suggestions and see what works for you!

I’m always looking for ways to reduce stress, what works for you? Share in the comments!

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About author

Heather Cooan

Heather is a marketing executive turned functional nutrition consultant and educator. Heather advocates for informed consent, bodily autonomy, and healthcare authorship. She speaks and writes on nutrition and lifestyle design interventions for health recovery. Heather successfully recovered her health from vulvar cancer, Hashimoto's, and lichen sclerosus. She reversed estrogen dominance, insulin resistance, arteriosclerosis, and fatty liver utilizing a food-as-medicine and integrated clinical treatment approach. Heather is a certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner, Nutrition Therapy Practitioner, and is earning her Oncology Nutrition Consulting Certification. Heather successfully recovered her health from vulvar cancer, Hashimoto's, and lichen sclerosus. She reversed estrogen dominance, insulin resistance, arteriosclerosis, and fatty liver utilizing a food-as-medicine and integrated clinical treatment approach. Heather is a certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner and Nutrition Therapy Practitioner.

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