Five Healthy Habits to Combat Stress
Our busy, modern lifestyles are pretty non-stop and whilst being productive is great, sometimes everything can get on top of us and leave us feeling stressed. Aside from making life that bit more difficult, stress can build up and eventually – when it becomes chronic – have some pretty nasty effects on our health. Incorporating healthy habits into your everyday is your best defence against the harmful effects of stress. Read on to discover our top four tips to stress less!
1. Protect your Down Time
Putting yourself first can become less of a priority, with persistent emails, deadlines and personal commitments all demanding constant input. But it’s super important to down tools every now and then and schedule in some me time.
Studies have shown that leaving one full day each week work-free can have some pretty amazing benefits. For this to be effective you need to be strict with yourself – pick one day of the week to protect your me time and resist any temptation to check your emails or switch on your laptop. Just by knowing that it’s your work-free day you’ll find it easier to switch off and occupy your time with stress-free activities!
2. Eat Well
Diet has a major impact on our overall health – both physical and mental. Eating well is one way you can give your body everything it needs to bounce back from stressful situations and not let everyday stresses build up and become chronic. Here are just some ways you can make sure your diet supports your new stress-free lifestyle!
Eat the Rainbow – Getting a variety of colours into your diet is the easiest way to ensure you are getting a daily dose of health-boosting antioxidants. These work within the body to fight off free radicals and remove toxins. Antioxidants play an important role in managing stress, helping to neutralise harmful substances that can contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety and overwhelm.
Plant Power your Diet – Fruit and veggies are nutritional powerhouses – they are packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and those antioxidants we just mentioned. Following a plant-based diet, or incorporating more plants into your animal-based diet, is a great way to ensure nutritional requirements are met across the board. Getting enough of these essential nutrients will help to fight fatigue, look after your gut and promote mental and physical wellbeing.
Avoid Emotional Eating – Whether you’re a comfort eater or a reactor faster, responding to emotions (including stress) with eating as a coping mechanism is not a good move. You’ll end up either starving yourself of essential nutrients or making yourself feel worse by bingeing on junk foods, then regretting it! If you do seek comfort from food, make sure you treat yourself every now and then. The odd guilty pleasure won’t do you any harm at all as part of an overall healthy lifestyle!
3. Keep Moving
By exercising each day you can quite literally chase your stresses away! Whether you’re a gym bunny, bootcamp addict or enjoy a long walk with your four-legged friend, any kind of movement is great for promoting mental health and banishing stress.
When your workout you release a surge of hormones which make you feel better instantaneously. You also process any negativity from that day, helping to see it on its way before you get some chill time and head off to bed. Exercise is so powerful for combating stress that it’s even prescribed by doctors as a first line of defence for stress and its related conditions.
4. Sleep Well, Every Night
Hands up if you sacrifice sleep to get more done and end up feeling tired for a whole week before eventually getting that lie in?! Sleep is super important for our mental health and that includes stress. It’s recommended that we all get between 7-9 hours of decent shuteye each night to allow our bodies to rest, recover and rejuvenate properly.
Despite this, hitting the pillow for so long every night simply isn’t a reality for many of us! What you don’t want to do is convince yourself that one mammoth lie-in will make up for a week’s worth of under-sleeping. The science shows that paying back your sleep-debt is not as simple as that! Instead, you’ve got to get into the daily habit of protecting your precious 7-9 hours every night.
It may take some adjusting to, but prioritising sleep will have instant benefits and help you to be happier, healthier and more productive in the long-term. No more burning the midnight oil, the cool side of the pillow awaits!
If you thought there was some magic cure to managing stress levels then you’ll be disappointed to know that a good old healthy lifestyle with nutritious food, time to relax, exercise and quality sleep is the answer! The good news is that by incorporating these four healthy habits into your everyday you can give your body the fuel and focus it needs to combat stress and protect your body from its harmful effects! Remember; sleep, eat, exercise and relax. Helping yourself to stress less really is that simple!