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Lifestyle Hacks for Stress Reduction

Stress is an unavoidable part of life and the things that cause us stress (stressors) are everywhere. But stress is a useful and important physiological reaction that can help us to achieve small bursts of peak performance when needed. Problems only arise when the 'stress response' becomes prolonged, over-activated and isn't allowed to reset. This is known as chronic stress.

Chronic stress can lead to many adverse health conditions, both mild and serious. To learn more about these risks, please read this in-depth article on the stress response. While you cannot remove stress entirely from your life (nor would you want to), there are many strategies you can implement to help you cope better in order to avoid it adversely affecting your health.

To do this, you need to start becoming an advocate for your own health by:

1. Becoming aware of your daily stresses that can start to undermine your health, such as:

  • Exposure to environmental toxins

  • Family situations

  • Work pressure

  • Lack of sleep or keeping late hours

2. Paying attention to your body and the signs it is giving you that stress is impacting your health, such as:

  • Fatigue or lack of energy

  • Lack of focus and concentration

  • Suppressed sex drive

  • Symptoms that do not seem ‘normal,’ and are your body telling you it is not well

3. Realising your lifestyle choices have the single greatest influence on your health, such as:

  • Smoking

  • Excessive alcohol

  • Poor diet

  • Lack of exercise

  • Inadequate sleep

  • Inactivity

  • Mental stress

Optimal health depends on smart lifestyle choices.

You can reduce your stress related symptoms by:

  • Improving your diet by eating a greater variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, avoiding processed foods, limiting grains and high GI foods, including more healthy fats and protein (organic grass fed if animal protein) at each meal, avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta, biscuits, doughnuts etc), reducing alcohol and caffeine and drinking more water and herbal teas.

  • Recognising the truth about poor diet and lifestyle habits. Start accepting responsibility for your health and making better choices. Only YOU have the power to change your situation.

  • Getting a good night’s sleep of at least 7 to 7.5 hours. Researchers have found that deep sleep is most apt to calming an anxious brain.

  • Increasing your daily exercise.

  • Practising relaxation techniques such as gentle stretching, diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, yoga, Qi Gong, t’ai chi and prayer. A great place to start is with one of the many apps available, such as Headspace or Calm . Another meditation app that is completely free is Insight Timer.

  • Learning to say NO. Set your boundaries so that people do not push you into a busier situation than you feel capable of handling properly.

  • Slowing down. If you are multi-tasking, sit back and reflect on what your true priorities are. Write them down so you can clear your mind and try eliminating, delegating or outsourcing what you can in order to reduce your load.

  • Keeping a positive mental attitude. Don't let failures get you down. Learn from them. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Approach challenges calmly. Break your day up into reasonable chunks, performing the most important tasks at the beginning of the day.

  • Filling your days with awareness and positive decisions.

  • Evaluating how you can improve your life, implementing small but consistent changes in how you eat, think and live.

Prevention is key. Start taking action today in order to reduce the mental and emotional stress in your life. If you start today, the you of tomorrow will reap the benefits.

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