Unfortunately, in a busy world stress is normal. Sometimes it can give us that extra boost we need to close that vital deal, meet a deadline or go the extra mile. In small doses, stress is actually good for you. Too much stress, on the other hand, can exacerbate conditions like diabetes, depression, obesity, heart disease and asthma.
In the US, almost half of adults suffer detriment to their health as a direct result of stress. Did you know that between 75% and 90% of doctor’s appointments are to discuss conditions that are directly related to stress?
It’s clear that we need to incorporate stress-busting strategies into our lives, but how do you get your day off to a stress-free start? Read on to find out how.
Breakfast is king
It’s really important to eat a good, healthy meal at the start of your day. This helps to balance your blood sugar levels and provide you with the sustenance you need to cope with stress. Protein is good and carbs too in the form of fresh fruit which also provides you with roughage and fibre.
Sing away stress
Music is a great stress-buster. Put on the radio or one of your favourite feel-good CDs and crank up the volume. Sing in the shower, in the car on the way to work and keep those tunes bouncing around inside your head as you walk into the office. The physical act of singing is really good for your breathing, immune system and heart and can create positive vibes or a relaxing feeling of peace, depending on the CD you choose.
Move your body
Exercise releases endorphins; feel-good chemicals inside your body. When you exercise and raise your heart rate, your body releases bucket-loads of endorphins along with a hormone called ANP which induces a feeling of euphoria and acts as a natural pain reliever. If you’re not a natural athlete, choose a form of exercise that’s fun and that you enjoy. Anything goes, as long as it gets your heart pumping.
Take five minutes out of your day to sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Breathing deeply counteracts stress and promotes a feeling of calm and peace; oxygen is increased and reduces muscle tension. Try to find a quiet place where you will be undisturbed and maybe play some soothing music too if you can.
Dark chocolate fix
Good news! Chocolate is really good for you; at least the dark variety is. It’s packed with chemicals, like theobromine for example. A scientific study showed that anxious people who ate a small amount of dark chocolate each day over a two week period, became less stressed. Try changing your early morning coffee for chocolate instead and take a few pieces of the dark stuff to nibble on during the day.
Have a laugh
Laughter is great for your health. It makes you feel good by increasing oxygen to your organs and reducing he levels of three stress-causing hormones; epinephrine, dopac and cortisol. Tune into your favourite comedy show, check out some witty clips on YouTube or seek the company of colleagues who make you smile.