If you are on a mission to reduce your stress levels (and hey, who isn’t these days) it doesn’t require you changing your entire life. As a health and wellness coach, the biggest issue I currently see with my clients is stress. While someone may contact me looking to drop weight, get control of their meal planning, or gain control of their hormones, conversation ultimately turns to how the stress in their daily lives is the key factor behind all of these needs. Meals are not prepped or planned because of work and family schedules, balanced nutrition is easily ignored for quick take out, and weight, exercise and health ends up taking a hit because of it. It all seems to start with stress!
I’m a big believer in creating small steps that lead to a progression of steady achievable successes that ultimately bring my clients to reaching big goals, so, I’ve spent some time coming up with some small changes you can take each day that lead up to a reduction in stress, worry, and anxiety. My hope is that you find that by including some of these steps into your daily life, you’ll experience many other benefits like thinking in a more positive manner or becoming a more mindful and peaceful person going forward.
A Little Guided Imagery
One of my favorite ways to manage stress is by using a really simple meditation technique called guided imagery. This is simple to do and gets you used to meditation without having to put too much pressure on yourself. Plus, it is a wonderful way to be more optimistic and visualize your hopes and dreams. This technique is really helpful when you find yourself feeling very overwhelmed with the amount of stress you are dealing with, and the many things that are causing it. It helps us gain our breathe, calm our anxiety, and clear our heads so that we can approach our stressors with a more objective and positive view.
To use guided imagery, simply close your eyes, find your breath with slow, deep, intentional inhales and exhales, and imagine a scenario that puts you into a peaceful, calming environment. You might be at your favorite beach, laying in the sand under a palm tree, or walking through a thick forest enjoying the peaceful surroundings, or simply sitting in your home garden smelling the flowers. Take your imagination to that place, as clear and detailed as possible, and let yourself relax and release in the calm of your imagination.
The great thing about guided imagery is that it is easy to do, only takes a few minutes a day, and it can be done anywhere, in almost every situation (not while driving, of course!).
Have Healthy Daily Habits
Another daily change you can make to reduce your stress is to better develop your healthy habits. For many, current, negative, habits could be making stress worse, while for other’s, tweaking just a few habits could make a huge difference in stress levels. Start thinking about your physical health and emotional health as one whole health, and find healthy daily habits that are sustainable for you. You will notice that the result is a lower amount of stress.
Some healthy daily habits to consider are:
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. What you put into your body makes a big difference in how you feel, not just physically, but mentally as well. You can nourish your body and mind by eating a healthy diet. Focus on eating whole foods that include lean proteins like chicken and fish, healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil, fresh greens like kale and broccoli, fresh or frozen veggies like carrots and green beans, and an entire array of fruits. Be sure to drink lots of water, and watch your intake of sugar.
Getting regular exercise. Exercise is wonderful for relieving stress, and is a healthy habit everyone should make a daily habit. It doesn’t have to be hitting the gym or spending hours working out. Walking every day, going on a hike, yoga, riding a bike, or dancing in your living room all count as daily exercise.
Avoiding unhealthy habits. There are also some unhealthy habits that might be making your stress worse. For example, if you drink large amounts of alcohol or participate in recreational drugs, you may experience a sense of relief from your stress in the short-term, but in the long-term, will actually be making it much worse. Excessive amounts of caffeine can also make your stress worse.
Making sleep a priority. Everyone needs sleep, so don’t feel like getting little sleep is doing you any good. You need high quality sleep, no matter how busy your schedule is. Don’t make light of only needing to sleep a couple hours a day, because this is NOT normal OR healthy for you. Make sure you set your sleeping area up for success by lowering the temperature, having comfortable bedding, and removing blue lights and electronics. Trying to set a regular schedule of bedtime and waking time that works for you, but allows you sufficient time for rest.
Getting rest every day. Just like sleep, you also need rest every day. If you have a busy schedule, then make an appointment for rest and self-care if you have to. This is a priority to reducing stress! If you are a super busy personality type, start small, and add to this down time as you get more comfortable with resting.
Focusing on mindfulness. Mindfulness is regularly recommended for stress because it helps you live in the moment, and have a better understanding of your thoughts and worries. Practicing mindfulness every day, such as during your self-care routine, is a healthy habit you can start doing now. Be mindful of your daily routines, taste your food, admire your surroundings, enjoy the people you are with, and recognize the moments as they exist.
Use a Stress Journal
Stress and worry journals are amazing for reducing your stress. Keeping track of your moods, emotions, and stressors can provide many benefits for you, including monitoring your stress peaks, understanding more about what is causing your stress, and keeping track of any stress-relief methods you may try, and how they work out for you. Because stress can create many issues in our lives such as headaches, digestive issues, increased anxiety, problems sleeping, and work productivity issues. Tracking all of these things along with the methods you use to reduce stress can help you see patterns in what does and doesn’t work for you, or what you may need to work on.
Avoid Unnecessary Stress
Take an honest look at the sources of stress that are completely unnecessary and optional, even when it doesn’t feel that way. If you are already dealing with a lot of stress in your life, the last thing you need to do is encourage more of it.
To avoid unnecessary stress, start by learning how to say “no” to people. This is a BIG one, and a completely and freeing move-be bold, make “no” a complete sentence, and just do it! Make priorities based on your needs and abilities, and manage your time to balance the stress in your life. You will thank yourself!
You may also want to look at your current sources of known stress and make a list of things that you can do to relieve it. Delegating responsibilities, outsourcing to others, or just asking for assistance can reduce a lot of stress from many of the big activities in our lives.
I hope that you will take a few minutes to evaluate how stress may be affecting your life, and use some of these ideas to reduce it, remove it, and move beyond it. As always, if you are looking for personal guidance in your health journey, including dealing with stress and exploring mindfulness, contact me and let’s talk about starting your journey. Find peace and health:)
from my business site BeeWell.com