Cool as a cucumber: 10 tips for staying calm
Has it been a stressful year for you? We’re often posting articles about the importance of healthy eating but we’re equally as passionate about helping people make healthy lifestyle choices for themselves and their families.
You can eat the finest organic produce and take the best nutritional supplements – but if you’re living a life that is full of stress, inevitably your body is going to pay the price. This article is about helping you stay calm as the year draws to a close.
How stress affects our bodies
There are a number of ways stress can impact your health. Short-term affects can be headaches, muscle pain, lethargy, depression and high blood pressure. In the long-term, chronic stress can lead to heart disease, digestive problems, fertility issues and a decrease in the immune system’s ability to fight off infection.
Our top 10 stress-reduction tips
1. Breathe – The simple act of taking deep, slow breaths is one of the most effective ways of removing toxins from our bodies. When we’re stressed we tend to take short, shallow breaths, which increases our heart rate and causes an uneasy feeling in the body. Whether you’re on the bus to work, or heading to pick up the kids in the car – try to take ten deep breaths at least once a day.
2. Hug it out – Forget handshakes and high-fives, do yourself a favour and find someone to hug (preferably someone who is familiar to you/ someone who has given you permission to embrace them). And when we say hug, we don’t mean that awkward pat on the back while your bodies are hardly touching – we mean the full bear hug! Research has shown that hugs can reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body, boost the immune system and lower blood pressure.
3. Snack right – How often do we reach for the chocolate or a piece of cake when we’re stressed-out – convinced that we ‘need’ the sugar to get through the day? Unfortunately that sugar high only lasts for a moment before our bodies come crashing down, leaving us more jittery and stressed-out than before. Instead of a block of Cadbury’s, try snacking on some nuts to relieve tension.
4. Chew it slowly – When we’re running around doing a million things at once, we are more likely to scoff our food. By chewing food slowly, we give our digestive system a ‘helping hand’ when it comes to breaking down the food we eat. Food is also a lot more pleasurable if we take the time to enjoy every single mouthful! Mindful eating is a great way of avoiding indigestion and stomach pains…and staying calm.
5. One thing at a time – As a human race we have become rather skilled at multitasking. We can cook dinner while talking on the phone and sending an email! But doing more than one thing at a time can actually cause stress in the body. We may think we are ‘winning’ by getting so many things done in a short space of time but in the long-term – we are adding to our anxiety levels.
6. Perspective – The thing that you are worrying about right now…will it matter in a year? Or even in a month? It can be easy to get overwhelmed at this time of year – things can become dramatic in our day-to-day lives but it’s important to step back and ask yourself, “Is this truly worth getting stressed about?”
7. State change – Jump in the ocean, put on your favourite song, watch something funny on YouTube, do a handstand, call a friend…sometimes the littlest thing can snap us out of our state of worry and create a sense of clarity when life becomes hazy with stress.
8. Sweat it out – Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and cause a feeling of wellbeing. You don’t have to run a marathon to benefit from the endorphin-release…it could be a quick walk around the block to get the blood pumping and clear your mind.
9. Unplug before bed – Are you someone who takes their laptop to bed with them? Do you check your Facebook page just before you go to bed? There’s growing evidence to suggest that the light emitted from your laptop/phone screen could be responsible for keeping your body in an alert state – making it harder to fall asleep. Try spending at least half an hour ‘unplugged’ before you go to bed – whether it’s having a bath, doing some meditation or reading an old fashioned paper-book.
10. Laugh lots – When did life become so serious? The average child laughs over 300 times a day compared to the average adult who laughs only 15 times a day. Having a good ole chuckle is beneficial for our health because it relieves tension, relaxes our muscles and triggers the body to release endorphins – which are the feel-good chemicals that promote a sense of wellbeing. If you’ve forgotten how to giggle, you can always join a Laughter Club!