How stressed are you in your life? A little or a lot? Sometimes or all the time?
One of the biggest health challenges we face in modern day life is stress. There exist so many potential stress factors internal and external to us.
Much of the stress in our lives is unavoidable. Work demands, opening your emails to find your inbox overflowing, dealing with customers or clients everyday, the demands of raising babies, financial pressures, juggling work/life balance are all examples of constant daily stressors that exist in many of ours lives. Without any effort of our own stress and anxiety are a part of modern day life. This is before we add into the mix major life changes, relationship breakdowns, illnesses in ourselves or others, losing our jobs. Things that happen to some or all of us at one time or another.
Prior to the last half of 2015, major stress had not played a constant in my life. I had occasional daily stress, some stressful, testing situations in my past but nothing that really shook me for an ongoing period of time.
But in 2015 a major life change caught up with me. In all honesty for quite sometime I thought I was doing a good job of handling the stress in my life. I still had my sense of humour, felt upbeat, motivated and healthy. However when I actually stopped to listen I realised my body was telling me otherwise. It was completely contradicting me.
I rarely get pimples (other than the hormonal once a month kind of pimple) but I found myself with skin that was constantly breaking out. Every morning I woke to a new pimple- it was so incredibly frustrating. The pimples were a constant visual proof that I didn’t want, to the feelings and stress my body was trying to shed.
My gut health was poor. My digestive system was touchy. Foods that never usually bothered me did.
I suffered from occasional insomnia and low energy. I wasn’t always thinking of anything in particular but I just couldn’t switch off and relax.
If you are in the midst of a situation that is causing you stress above and beyond your normal levels of stress I feel for you. Whether it’s work, relationships, financial, life or family based just remember- this too shall pass.
But in the mean time, what can you do about it. How can you lessen the impact of stress on your body? Here’s what has worked for me.
Get Your Head Around Stress & Check Your Language
Just like hate is the opposite but exact same emotion as love, so is stress to excitement. What you can hate you can also show love and compassion to. What stresses you can also be a potential source of excitement or opportunity. Not always, but in many situations this positive reframing of stress can be powerful. Making you feel less of a victim, less powerless and instead more positive, more engaged to act.
And choose your language. Instead of using the word stress to describe your situation or emotional stage use instead challenge or challenged, excited, pushed. Believe me when I saw this small tweak can have a huge effect on how your brain interprets a situation. If you constantly find yourself exclaiming “I am under so much stress” your brain will believe you! Feed it something more positive “Yes, I’m certainly feeling more challenged than usual at the moment”. Your brain is a computer, feed it information wisely!
Treat Your Skin With Kindness
Our skin is our largest human organ and prolonged stress is wearing and ageing on the skin. Start with weekly facials at home to nourish your skin, to help curb pimples and to prevent skin imbalances. A Vitamin C serum to help rejuvenate the skin. Plenty of water to help flush out toxins.
Get Onto Your Gut Health
The best thing I started doing for my gut was to start taking a daily probiotic. Kombucha, if you enjoy the taste (which sadly I don’t) is also a great option. Gut health is more than just the symptoms that first come to your mind. Good gut health is necessary for the absorption of vitamins and minerals from the food you eat. Which in turn improves your health, your resiliency and your energy. If something is amiss, don’t dismiss it as nothing to worry about.
Prioritise Quality Sleep
Stop with the pressuring of yourself to get eight hours of sleep or the feelings of tiredness because you know you only had 3 or 4 hours of sleep. Instead focus on getting as much quality sleep as you can. Meditation, quiet time and screen free time are three non-negotiables for this to happen. Before bed let yourself properly wind down with dim lighting and something positive that relaxes you. Reading, having an orgasm, music, gratitude journalling (you can find my gratitude journal for purchase here), meditation win hands down over mindless scrolling through social media feeds!
Bringing more of the positive in also includes your diet. More good food. Less crap food. Add fresh juices to your diet, better yet swap them in for some of your regular teas and coffees and eat foods that are easier for you to digest. Food that will make you feel better overall, including after you’ve finished eating it. And try to remove sugar from your diet, as much as possible.
Exercise is a good way to exhaust nervous energy from your body. In fact for me it’s the best way. Working up a sweat, taking a walk really helps to clear my mind and improves the quality of my sleep.
Start taking more notice of your breath. When you get caught up in your head and your thoughts you will start to notice that your breath is shallow. When you are relaxed your breathing is naturally more full. We want deep, full breaths where our rib cages and stomachs expand. Lots of oxygen coming into our bodies to have our cells functioning optimally and to have our bodies feelings better. When you notice yourself with shallow breath, stop and take 5-10 deep breathes to help calm yourself.
Challenges in some form or another in our life are here to stay. Embracing this as just the way it is allows us to move on purposefully.
What is one thing you can try to help lessen the impact of stress in your life?