Juggling the daily demands of work, school and family life isn’t easy. Between work deadlines, school exams and raising children, many of us experience different levels of overwhelm and stress. Finding the time to relax may feel impossible but it is achievable with the right tools. In today’s post, I will be sharing 5 ways you can reduce the stress in your life.
- Getting Enough Sleep
Our body undergoes a series of biological responses when we experience stress. Certain hormones and neurotransmitters are released as a result of changes affecting the natural state of the body. In fact, several hormones work together to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle. When prolonged stress occurs, this cycle becomes disrupted setting off a cascade of physiological effects such as moodiness, cognitive impairment, and behavioral changes.
Based on these effects, I think it’s safe to say that getting enough rest is vital to daily functioning. The struggle for many is creating a daily routine that promotes good sleeping habits. As someone that has experienced many restless nights, I know the importance in creating a sleep routine.
Lately, I’ve been trying to take the following approach to get a good night’s rest.
- Putting my phone on silent an hour before going to bed prevents me from checking any alerts and notifications that go off. This approach is helpful because it allows me to start my nightly routine without interruptions, which can further delay going to bed on time.
- Having a bright light on acts as an external stimulus, encouraging the body to stay awake. Therefore, similar to putting my phone on silent, I turn off the lights at least 30 minutes before I’m ready for bed.
- Reading a book is something I do most nights. It’s a great way for me to relax and to catch up on some of the newer books I’ve purchased.
Creating a sleep schedule will benefit you in many ways. Play around with different methods to determine what works for you. Once you figure it out, become consistent with implementing it. Over time it will become second nature and you’ll feel much more rested each day.
2) Eat A Balanced Diet
I don’t know about you, but whenever I miss a meal or go a long time between meals, I can become HANGRY. The slightest things suddenly become irritating and my energy level is almost nonexistent. Relief from this momentary madness is only provided once I eat something.
Getting proper nutrition provides your body with essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients allow you to have the physical energy needed to make it through the day. A poor diet affects the way your body responds to stress. Research studies have shown when the body experiences stress, GI absorption, intestinal permeability, and mucous & stomach acid secretions are affected.
In order to limit some of these negative effects, I started meal prepping. When my meals are planned in advance, I eliminate having to scramble at the last minute to cook something. This alone makes my day easier and I feel better knowing I’ve put fairly nutritious food in my body that will give me energy.
Pinterest and Instagram are excellent sources if you’re looking for recipe inspiration. Before creating a grocery list, I suggest saving a few meal ideas from these platforms. This approach allows you to determine what you need to purchase and helps to reduce overspending which is a bonus.
3) Create A Daily Schedule
I LOVE being organized, so much so that it’s probably a bit obsessive. There’s nothing more stressful to me than having a million things to do and not being organized enough to complete each task.
Each weekend I sit down and compose a list of important things that must get done. I rank each from highest to least important, including any important due dates. After writing everything down, I will input them into my digital and physical calendars.
You can create a similar daily schedule with the following approach:
- Make a list of your daily non-negotiable tasks (ex: work, school & home)
- Rank the order in which you want to accomplish each task (easiest to hardest or vice versa)
- Create a time block to work on each task
This is a great way to reduce your stress level because as you cross things off your list you build momentum. There’s nothing better than when you reach the end of a long to-do list!
4) Engage In Physical Activity
Taking time to engage in physical fitness is very beneficial to your health and an excellent way to reduce stress.
Exercising increases endorphins released in your body. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that produce what’s referred to as “runners high”. When you exercise these levels increase, resulting in you feeling energized.
It’s recommended to get at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week and around 1 hour of vigorous exercise such as jogging or swimming. Creating a workout plan will help you develop good exercise habits which will help to reduce daily stress.
5) Schedule A Self Care Day
Setting aside time to treat yourself is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Neglecting your mental, physical and spiritual well-being can add to the negative emotions experienced during stressful moments. Spending time enjoying your favorite things helps you to deal with stress in a positive and productive way.
I’ve designated Sundays as my self-care day, each week. I spend this time doing things that are meaningful to me. I will give myself an at-home manicure, do a little shopping, or curl up with a good book. While I appreciate each day that I’m given, I look forward to Sundays because I know it’s the one day of the week that I have something scheduled for myself that I want to do.
Whether you decide to spend time with family, go to a spa, or sit in bed watching TV, practice scheduling a self-care day. You will be surprised how engaging in meaningful activities during this time improves your overall mood.
I hope these tips provided you with some useful ways to reduce and manage stress. Learn to take each day as it comes. No matter how difficult things may be today, tomorrow is a new beginning. Let go of whatever may not have gone your way, and make the most of what you have at this moment.