Do you have trouble sleeping or find it really hard to relax? Do you feel overwhelmed by people and things in your life? A lot of us spend our days and weeks running around like headless chickens, frustrated and angry with things, people and ourselves. And new research shows that chronic stress can do as much damage to our bodies as smoking, not eating right or not exercising. Here’s how you can combat this silent killer and start to feel a bit more chilled out:
1. Learn to manage your time better. Learn to prioritize, delegate and say no more often. Time management skills will not only free up time, but also precious mind space. By simply making a to do list and prioritizing urgent and important tasks over things that can be put off, delegated or deleted, you will notice you can get more done with the time you have.
2. Exercise regularly. Exercise is not a luxury or a choice. Whether it is a power walk, a cycle, or a fitness class, it doesn’t have to last long, it just needs to be intense enough to get you out of breath and break into a good sweat. Exercise helps your muscles and your mind relax and as a consequence you’ll get to sleep better too.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Why worry about the traffic not moving fast enough, about other people’s annoying habits, or the rain? First, recognise what is been stressing you out. Then, decide to do something about those things you have control over, and let go of those things you have no control over.
4. Avoid stressors such as alcohol, cigarettes, sugary foods and wheat. These put your system under immense strain. If you lead a high stress life you can at least help yourself by eating well. Make sure most of what you eat is fresh seasonal produce
5. Breathe! When we are stressed out we tend to hold our breath or breathe quick and shallow therefore taking in little oxygen to our lungs, brain, organs and muscles. Try this out: Inhale for four counts, imagine that your belly is a rubber balloon and you are slowly filling it with air. Hold your breath for four counts. Now, exhale for eight counts, making sure your belly stays relaxed as it lets the air out. You may feel that after four counts you need to expel all the air out. That’s fine. Empty your lungs fully before you take another deep breath into your belly. Repeat eight to ten times.