In this fast-paced, technology-driven world we live in, it’s easy to feel like you can’t ever just stop and take a breather. Our modern lifestyles are busier than ever as we juggle work, family commitments, maintaining a regular exercise routine, pursuing hobbies and more. As productive as this can make us feel, many people often don’t realise that they are constantly feeling stressed as they strive to meet the demands of these kinds of lifestyles.
If not managed properly, stress can be detrimental to your physical and emotional health in the long term. That’s why it’s important to have effective techniques to help you take control of your own stress and ensure you maintain balance in your life. Here are eight tried-and-tested techniques that we stand by to manage stress in a healthy, ongoing way.
Get adequate, uninterrupted sleep
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but we cannot overstate the impact that sleep, or lack thereof, can have on your daily functioning and overall health and wellbeing. Adults should be getting 6-8 hours of sleep every night, and to make sure you can have as peaceful a rest as possible, maximise your state of relaxation before going to sleep. Try not to use your phone or any other electronic devices right before you go to sleep, and avoid caffeine in the evenings. It’s also a good idea to make sure you wrap up any mentally demanding work tasks well before you turn in for the night. And as much as possible, try to go to sleep at roughly the same time every night to get your mind and body into a stable, regulated routine.
Get it all down on paper
If you’re feeling constantly under the pump, one of the best and simplest things you can do is to have an outlet for all of that stress and nervous energy. Keep a journal to record what you’re stressed about, and use this resource to help you evaluate your effectiveness in stressful situations. You can also use a journal to express what you’re grateful for in your life. Practicing gratitude is a great way to combat stress, as it encourages you to focus on the positives.
Spend quality time with friends and family
If you work in a demanding and busy job, as many of us do, it’s easy to feel like there just isn’t enough time to keep up with social commitments as well. However, maintaining a strong social support network with friends and family can be hugely beneficial for alleviating stress. As tempting as it is to just flop onto the couch at the end of an exhausting work day or week, it’s important to make the time to catch up with your loved ones. The sense of belonging you’ll get from building that strong network will help you restore more balance to your life, and that means you don’t have to deal with stress on your own.
Practice relaxation techniques
Deep breathing and meditation are two simple but effective relaxation techniques you can practice in your daily life to ensure stress doesn’t get on top of you. When done correctly, deep breathing stimulates the body’s relaxation response that is controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps to regulate the physical symptoms of mental stress, such as increased heart rate and quicker breathing. Practice deep breathing by focusing on your breath, slowing it down and breathing in deeply so that your lungs expand and your belly rises. You can work this into a meditation routine as well – just five minutes a day after you wake up in the morning can help you to feel refreshed, peaceful and ready to take on another busy day.
An essential component to effectively utilising relaxation techniques is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of being in which you are thoroughly present and centred in the moment, and this improves with positive self-talk. There are many practices that are useful for increasing mindfulness. As well as meditating regularly, we recommend you frequently practice yoga or pilates, as these are physical activities that are designed to help you join your body and mind in the present moment. BodyViva offers pilates and physio exercise classes at various times throughout the week – why not start there?
Listen to soothing music
Listening to relaxing music can be incredibly effective at calming the body down. Listening to the music you particularly enjoy is always a good idea. We also recommend incorporating nature sounds into your music for meditation sessions, and listening to slow-paced instrumental music to encourage that same relaxation response to lower your heart rate and evoke a sense of tranquility.
As they say, our bodies are like cars – the better the fuel you put in, the better they will operate on a daily basis. In terms of improving your overall health and wellbeing, maintaining a nutritious, well-balanced diet is the necessary counterpart to maintaining a regular exercise regime. Try to minimise intake of alcohol and nicotine, as both of these substances can have adverse effects on your stress levels, and always make sure you keep yourself hydrated. All of these dietary choices will help your body to cope with stress much more effectively and easily.
Last but certainly not least, make sure you stick to a regular exercise routine! Studies have shown that aerobic exercise can trigger the release of endorphins, which in turn help to improve your mood as well as your physical health. It’s important that you find exercise activities that you personally enjoy. The ideal exercise regime involves a mixture of high-intensity activities such as jogging or dancing, and low-intensity activities, such as yoga. Ensure you set reasonable goals for your fitness improvement, so that you can see maximum benefits from your exercise routine. If you’re suffering from an injury or restricted mobility that prevents you from reaching your fitness goals, consider consulting a qualified health practitioner for expert advice.
Is stress really affecting you? If so, you need the right advice on how to manage it. As Brisbane’s leading multidisciplinary health clinic, BodyViva is here to help. With a wide range of qualified practitioners on hand, we treat our patients for all kinds of pain, injury and restrictions that may be contributing to stress in their lives. Contact us now to find out more!