Stress can be a constant in our lives. With all of the shutdowns, working from home, and home school/daycare going on the cortisol is coursing through our bodies! Cortisol is a hormone that can be high when we're under stress. It keeps us in “fight or flight” mode. Lots of stress and high cortisol can take a toll on our bodies. It can cause weight gain, digestion problems, insomnia, anxiety, decreased focus, etc. Our goal, then, should be to limit stress where we can. Here are some ways you can decrease your stress:
1. Mindset and positivity. Starting your morning routine by focusing on what is within your control can make a difference. Just recently we had our members compete in a challenge where one of their “daily tasks” was to write down 3 things that they could control each day. We found that this was beneficial to our member's state of mind and attitude, especially when conquering the new, unexpected challenges during a worldwide pandemic. A little positivity can go a long way. Mindset is a huge factor when it comes to stress.
2. Breathe in…..Breathe out… You might not be a big fan of meditation, but it can be very helpful to manage stress. There are several different forms of meditation. We prefer doing our Stretch & Core class (recorded classes are found under the Home Workouts tab). - It’s similar to a yoga class, but focuses on simple stretch routines and core exercises, along with guided breathing to release tension from the body. You can recreate this on your own, too. Simply do some stretches in a calm environment and take the deepest breaths you can. It’s amazing what just a few deep breaths can do. Building in breathing and meditation into your daily routine moves you from operating in the sympathetic nervous system (a.k.a fight or flight mode) and into the parasympathetic nervous system (a.k.a rest and digest). This has so many positive effects on the body, and can even help you lose fat!3. Drink water. We often cope with our exhaustion by filling our bodies with caffeine. All this really does is add more stress to the body. Try this: drink one cup of coffee in the morning to get a little pep in your step, and then chase it with a glass of water. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Our bodies need water. When they are dehydrated stress piles on.
4. Exercise. Do we really need to say it? A daily exercise routine can help manage your stress levels. Of course exercise has numerous benefits on the body. It also provides an avenue for you to check out and stop worrying about everything around you - Focus on the workout. Be present. The increased blood flow and endorphins will get you more ready to face whatever is coming your way.
5. Connect. Give. Contribute. When you stop solely focusing on all the “problems” you are surrounded with on a daily basis and look around, you can find so much beauty. Focusing on the good, and being proactive can open up opportunities for you to connect with others. There are so many things you can do to help others and connect with them. Humans are meant for connection; and it actually has positive effects on our bodies. Giving back, volunteering, attending community events (even virtual ones!), are all great for our communities, and also bring peace to your mind and soul.
Remember - Stress is not just mental/ emotional. Some of the suggestions above may seem irrelevant in helping to relieve the stress you feel. However, decreasing physical, relational, and spiritual stress can help lower the overall stress level you experience. This will have a net positive effect on the relief you feel.