How to Counter Stress
There is no universal panacea to avoiding stress, even the fittest and healthiest can be effected by stress at any time in their life. Some of the stress avoiding activities for some people can also be stressful factor to another, so find what works for you best. There are three main areas where stress can be induced from poor choices; Nutrition, Fitness and Lifestyle, which can be managed to find an equilibrium or happy medium. Conscious choice, failure to make these choices can lead to an unhealthy and stressful life. The key to reducing stress is to prevent experiencing it in the first place, perhaps easier said than done, but here are some suggestions, can you tick the boxes?
Nutrition and Diet
Water (not tea and coffee!) is essential to our daily health, we can live without food for many days, but without water the human bodies dies quickly. Our bodies comprise of 60% of water by weight. But how much is enough each day? Many say that the eight glasses per day is too much and not proven. The answer is to find your own best level, everyone, their situation and climate is very different. The American Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake per day is 3 litres for men and about 2 litres for women. So make such you have your water bottle handy and keep sipping! (Drink much more if you add exercise to this per day) If you are struggling there is even an App called Waterlogged© to help you monitor intake.
The next is to eat healthy, and there is an entire industry related to this topic. We don’t all have to be vegetarians, but eating more colourful fresh and raw foods and less processed and fatty foods is a great place to start. Eating regularly throughout the day and not skipping nourishment when we need it is also healthy and important.
What we put into our bodies, either unhealthily or to excess can be detrimental to our chemical and physical wellbeing, and leads to health issues such as weight gain, heart attacks, and stress. In addition and above and beyond the simple abuse we can suffer there are also those substances which lead to chronic illness or addictions, such has, drugs, drinking, nicotine, caffeine and more recently sugar!
Fitness – being active
Humans were designed to be active and this can take many forms other than the gym or running Comrades. Taking walks, playing with the children or riding a bike all count towards living a daily active life style. Finding an activity that is enjoyable is really the key maybe; swimming or hiking, and something you can do as part of a family or social group.
Some activities are also beneficial to specifically reducing stress, such as Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi, and don’t of course forget to come back for your Body Stress Release maintenance sessions!
Studies based on researching workplace related stress show that issues related to stress account for:
- 19% of absenteeism
- 30% of short to long term disability
- 40% of employee turnover
- 55% of Employee Assistance Program (EAP) requests for support
- 60% of work place accidents
In short stress reduces effectiveness, efficiency and costs company’s money, despite the personal costs to workers and health providers. In Britain despite people becoming richer over the last 50 years, surveys show that happiness or mental wellbeing has not improved. Is this the case here in South Africa? I think most would agree money wont buy happiness or guarantee a stress free life.
What gets many people through the day is a positive attitude or out look on life. Also climbing the corporate ladder of success is also stressful and working smarter and not harder might be a better way to think. Certainly technology now allows us to work from any where with the Internet, cell and 3G coverage. Finding a good healthy balance to working and living is vital in the fast paced 21st Century. In the life part of the work life balance it is often as important to find some “me time” as it is to work overtime!
On average we should be spending about 8 hours per day sleeping, that’s on third of the day, or one third of our life in bed! That’s an average, so some many manage on 6 whilst others need 10 hours per night. Not only is it a key part of our post Body Stress Release session it is a vital part of staying healthy. The National Sleep Foundation of America discovered that 60% of adult Americans reports having sleep problems, while 40 million suffer from over 70 sleep disorders. According to leading sleep researches the best way to have a good nights sleep every night is to do the following:
- Get into a routine, try to sleep and wake at the same times.
- Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed.
- Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep.
- Do not use sleeping tablets.
- Get regular exercise, but not just before bed.
- Don’t watch TV in the bedroom, better to read instead
- Create a peaceful bedroom environment, minimise noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep.
- Try to go to bed earlier every night for certain period; this will ensure that you’re getting enough sleep.
In our pursuit of self-healing through regular BSR session we encourage getting horizontal whenever the mood takes us, even having a siesta. It’s an investment in your future health.
Connecting with People
Life’s problems cause stress and the old proverb “a problem shared is a problem halved” is still sound. Social connections with people such as family, friends, colleagues and neighbours are important for both morale and advise support. Our lives are also more and more connected through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter but often these do not lead to reliable friendships, and no substitute for some ‘face-time’ over cup of decaffeinated coffee! Spending time with friends is key to a well-balanced and happy life, but so too is the quality of the time, make sure it is enjoyable, have a great laugh too. Taking it to the ultimate loving level for marrieds of course – sex is a great proven stress buster!
Having a giving spirit by volunteering
Having a giving heart can be a rewarding choice in life; it can start with simple ‘thanks’ and a smile, or a kind work of praise here and there. Time is one of our most valuable and limited resources, our families always appreciate time spent with them, and so do those in need. Volunteering through a church, community centre or NGO can be a life-changing event, and one to provide self-grounding and less stress.
Managing our feelings
How we manage our feeling is termed our Emotional Intelligence or “Being smarter with our feelings” and has been pioneered by Daniel Goleman. It involves the ability to recognise your own emotions, those emotions of other people, in how these are managed in everyday stressful situation, where high emotional anxiety can lead to stress. To take this further go to this highly rated website on Emotional Intelligence www.eg.org
In our daily routines, having a positive ‘can do’ attitude goes along way to staying calm and managing how we cope. Our attitude is a key driver to life and how to cope with adverse stress. Do you see the glass half empty (as a pessimist) or half full (as an optimist)? Being positive wards off stress!
Living with past mistakes or worrying about matters we just cannot change leads to emotional stress as does worrying needlessly about the future. Being fully present in the moment is really the most important part of daily life. Coping with issues and tasks in the here an now.
Don’t cry over the past, it’s gone. Don’t stress about the future, it hasn’t arrived. Live in the present and make it beautiful.
 Bonetti, Benjamin, How to Stress Less; Simple ways to stop worrying and take control of your future, Capstone, 2014