Stress can be caused by a number of events, both positive and negative. From minor inconveniences to major life crises, stress is a common problem for many Canadians. In 2018, Statistics Canada reported that over 20% of Canadians 12 years and older perceived their life to be stressful, with that number jumping to almost 30% for those aged 35-49.
When stress becomes overwhelming, it can have serious implications on our mental health and physical well-being. Thankfully, there are many simple strategies we can implement that can have positive impact and help to tame our stress.
Here are 6 Ways You Can Reduce Stress:
1.Move Your Body
Movement is medicine. Exercise is a powerful antidote against stress. When the body feels good, so does the mind. Exercise causes the body to release endorphins – natural pain killers released by the brain – that can increase alertness, concentration, energy, and even help regulate sleep. Health Canada suggests that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week, while children should get at least 60 minutes per day! Having trouble fitting that in? Check out our XLR40 program!
2.Get Enough Sleep
One of the most common contributors to stress is lack of sleep. Lack of quality sleep can contribute to increased emotional disturbance and decreased satisfaction with life, which in turn can make it difficult to manage even the smallest of stressors. The best way to get more restful sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene. Simple changes like less screen time, a regular sleep schedule, and intentional time spent winding down in the evening can help regulate sleep patterns.
3. Focus On Breathing
Controlled breathing is one of the quickest and most effective ways to regulate your body’s stress response. Slow, controlled breathing helps to slow down rapid heart rates, a common symptom of heightened stress. By slowing down our heart rate with controlled breaths, the brain has energy to think clearly and engage in problem solving – both of which contribute to reduced stress. Diaphragmatic breathing is one way to implement this strategy. Other tools are: mindfulness, meditation, and grounding techniques.
Try this: find a comfortable seated position with your feet planted firmly on the floor, inhale through your nose and focus on filling the lungs with air, as you do this, you will see or even feel your stomach expand as the lungs fill with air. During your exhale, release the air through your mouth. Repeat a few times and use regularly.
Self-care is a way for us to take care of our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. This crucial practice is often overlooked – especially in times of stress. Try setting aside some time to develop your own ‘self-care’ list of strategies to help you prioritize your own well-being and become proactive in taming your stress. Carry this list with you or place it somewhere you will see daily to remind yourself to prioritize your self care. When you are intentional about taking care of yourself – mind, body, and soul – you are better equipped to tackle life challenges.
5. Practice Gratitude
Expressing gratitude can help you to see life in a more positive way. Take time to implement this positive psychology technique; gratitude helps people to feel increased happiness and life satisfaction, and manage life stressors. There are many ways to express gratitude, including relishing the joys of the present, recalling positive memories from the past, or sharing the experience with others. Reinforce these positive thoughts by starting a gratitude journal, expressing thankfulness around the dinner table with family, or writing thank-you notes. Gratitude brings awareness to the good things in life, which can be overlooked and minimized in times of stress.
6. Nourish Your Body
Stress can have numerous effects on our eating habits, many of which can create long-term challenges. However, as noted earlier, when the body feels good, so does the mind. Prioritizing nutrition and focusing on eating foods that make your body feel good are an important part of balanced well-being and stress management. If you feel like you would like to learn more about proper nutrition, call us and ask to speak to a Registered Dietician.
There are many ways to protect your well-being and manage stress, this list is only a few key elements of being proactive in stress management. If you feel your stress has become difficult to manage, it is helpful to talk to a professional who can provide you with even more tools to understand and decrease stress. Dealing with stress in a crucial component to protecting and maintaining well-being.