Having stress in your life is healthy. That is, it’s healthy in small doses and when experienced at appropriate times. Stress helps us push harder, run faster, and focus in on a task to ensure we execute/deliver it to the best of our ability (the elevated cortisol). What we were not designed to handle was extended periods of stress (prolonged stress). Go back to our caveman days and we were designed to wake up, hunt and gather (possibly running away from an animal), have an active day walking and foraging and then either hunt again in the evening or consume what we had collected prior. When the sun went down, we went to bed. Stress came and went; it was not constant.
So what can cause us to be in a constant state of stress today?
- Social media
- Text messages and notifications
- E-mails (especially on our phones)
- News (radio, tv, social media)
- Commuting to and from work
- The pressures and demands of our career
- Cashflow worries (rising home loan repayments)
- Airport travel
- Our children
- Running a business
- Overtraining (physical stress)
These are just a sample of the things that people tell me cause them stress right now. Some we can manage/address/resolve, others are out of our control. The question then becomes how do we manage this increase in cortisol? This feeling of stress. Well, once again I asked you!
- Alcohol (other substances as well)
- Comfort eating
- Online shopping
- Video games (escapism)
- Many had the response of, ‘I just don’t ‘
We are living in an incredibly difficult time. Technology either working for us or against us. Increasingly difficult economic conditions. Governmental unrest globally. Health concerns on the rise for most demographics. Now, I am not saying I can resolve this for you, but I can tell you what I do to help me manage these feelings of worry, frustration, anxiety…….’stress’. So in no particular order:
- Exercise/Movement: This is my go-to. I always feel better after I have trained than I did before I began. The endorphins and the serotonin that is triggered leaves me feeling balanced, rewarded and calm. Yes, you can over train…so ensure there is a balance of ‘Duration v Intensity’. For those that have worked with me or attended my workshops, will understand this concept. The key is, do what you enjoy.
- Meditation: A big topic! For me I find that transcendental meditation works best as the mantra helps me navigate the self-chatter. There are a variety of methodologies, so I encourage you to experiment and find the one that works best for you. 5 – 20 minutes each day. No longer than 10 minutes if prior to bed.
- Breath work: In the moment I take myself out of the situation and stop to do some box breathing. This allows me to re-center, re-focus, calm and gather my thoughts and feelings.
- Magnesium: There are many types of magnesium, but evidence is leaning towards Glycinate being the best. I also increase the consumption of foods that contain magnesium such as spinach, dark chocolate (90% or above ideally), bananas, avocados.
- Vitamin D: Seek out the sun. Being cautious to not remain in the sun to the point of burning, but 5 – 20 minutes (dependent on the UV index) has been shown to stimulate the stress response.
Life is demanding and can easily become all too much. Please find a methodology to manage this stress and remember to always speak up, speak out and tell someone how you are feeling. Never do it alone!